On the second night of a back-to-back, with the Wizards (11-24) facing a formidable Denver Nuggets (24-11) team, it was the bench that provided the spark in an impressive 128-114 win for the DC squad on Saturday.
Led by Ish Smith who scored a career-high 32 points, the Wizards bench set a new franchise record with a combined 92 points in the win. According to Elias Sports Bureau, this marks the second-highest bench point total since 1970-1971 when the statistic was first tracked.
Smith’s performance was infectious for the rest of the bench. Other standout performances came from Troy Brown Jr., Isaac Bonga and Anzejs Pasecniks. Brown Jr. recorded his second double-double of the season with an impressive stat line of 25 points (10-12 FG) and a career-high 14 rebounds in 36 minutes. Bonga and Pasecniks each provided 15 and 13 points, respectively.
Next Man Up
For the fourth time in the last five games, the injury-riddled Wizards once again found themselves without Bradley Beal. Davis Bertans, Rui Hachimura, Thomas Bryant and Moritz Wagner were all ruled out as well.
Jordan McRae, coming off of a 35 point game against the Portland Trail Blazers, found himself in the starting lineup for Saturday’s game. Isaiah Thomas, following his ejection and $25,000 league fine, also started.
However, given Ish Smith’s effectiveness in terms of his fast-paced playstyle, ball-handling and paint penetration against the Nuggets, coach Scott Brook opted to keep Thomas benched for a majority of the second half in favor of Smith. Smith has certainly proven himself worthy of the minutes. He continues to serve as a consistent option off of the bench.
Johnathan Williams, who was signed on Dec. 26 on a non-guaranteed contract, got the start as well and provided 12 points in the win. However, Williams was released after the game. This potentially signifies that the Wizards expect the imminent return of a number of their injured players.
Against All Odds
The Wizards entered this game as 12-point underdogs. Saturday’s win now puts them at 17-17-1 ATS this season according to teamrankings.com. For bettors looking to cash in on the Wizards, their best bet is to hammer the over. In 35 games this year, the Wizards have now hit the over 21 times. In games against fast-paced offenses, parlaying the over with a moneyline prediction may be worth a consideration moving forward.
The Wizards will look to capitalize on this win tomorrow as they take on the visiting Boston Celtics (25-8) at 7:00 p.m.