Washington Wizards point guard John Wall missed shoot-around before Friday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets because of a migraine.
He was a headache for the Nets, too.
The four-time All-Star scored 22 points with nine assists in only 24 minutes as Washington cruised to a 129-108 victory at Verizon Center in northwest D.C.
More importantly, the Wizards officially clinched a playoff berth and are third in the Eastern Conference at 44-28.
Washington’s bench scored 70 points, grabbed 28 rebounds and had nearly half of the team’s 29 assists.
“Those guys played great,” Wall said of the reserves. “That’s what we got those guys for. Guys are getting comfortable playing with each other [and] playing at a faster pace. They played better defense … than the starting group and got us the lead.”
Wall and the rest of the starters got off to a slow start and trailed Brooklyn 13-4 within the first five minutes of the game.
They woke up and took a 31-22 lead into the second quarter.
None of the starters played the first six minutes of that quarter and the reserves extended the lead to 53-31.
Brandon Jennings, who signed with the Wizards on March 1, led the bench with 18 points, nine assists and no turnovers.
The team’s “swag,” as shooting guard Bradley Beal put it, was on full display Friday, as an alley-oop from Jennings to Kelly Oubre Jr. got the Wizards faithful jumping from their seats.
“I’m definitely getting comfortable,” Jennings said. “I just like our ball movement … and the way the second unit is playing. We’re getting stops and actually able to help the first unit, which is good to give them some rest.
None of the Wizards starters played more than 25 minutes against the league-worst Nets (15-57).
Wizards backup center Ian Mahinmi played nearly 24 minutes and scored 16 points, seven rebounds and four steals. Bojan Bogdanovic, who came to Washington last month from Brooklyn via trade and played a team-high 26 minutes Friday, chipped in with 17 points and seven rebounds.
The last time the Wizards reserves outscored the starters was March 2, 2016, in Minnesota against the Timberwolves.
“Our bench played hard,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said. “That second unit did a great job. It’s a good overall win for us.”
As for Wall and his headache, he’s still taking some medicine and will “be all right” for Saturday’s game against the East-leading Cleveland Cavaliers (47-24) — the first of a five-game, nine-day road trip which the Wizards face only one team with a losing record.
“We’ve been able to see this schedule since August and we knew that March was going to be pretty demanding [and] challenging,” Brooks said. “It’s going to be a challenge, but our guys are excited about it.”