WASHINGTON — Some days are good days. Others are bad days. Most are somewhere in between. When browsing through D.C. sports history, you’ll find plenty of bad days. Sunday, April 16, 2017, was a good day for D.C. sports.
1. John Wall, Wizards Open Playoffs With Win
The Wizards started off their 2017 postseason run with a 1 p.m. game on Easter Sunday. While it wasn’t a perfect first half, it was difficult to find fault in the Wizards’ third quarter. They outscored the visiting Atlanta Hawks 38-28 in the period, and they maintained control after that en route to a 114-107 win.
John Wall was absolutely spectacular in the game, setting a new playoff career high with 32 points, and he added 14 assists, four rebounds and a chasedown block for the ages. Seriously, just watch some of his many highlights from the contest:
Wall stole the show, but he wasn’t the only one doing heavy lifting. Bradley Beal overcame a slow start to score 22 points, and Markieff Morris contributed 21 points, seven rebounds and four blocks in his NBA playoff debut. Marcin Gortat added 14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks while limiting Dwight Howard to just seven points, and Kelly Oubre filled the stat sheet with 11 points, three rebounds, one assist, two steals and a block off the bench.
The Wizards ended the day with a 1-0 lead in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, which is about all they could have asked for on Sunday.
2. Bryce Harper Smacks 2 Homers, Including Game-Winner
John Wall is the best player on the Wizards, and while he has a strong supporting cast, he’s the clear top dog. The best player on the Nationals is much more open to debate, but if you had to pick one player, it’s not a bad idea to choose the only guy on the team to win the league MVP award.
Bryce Harper, of course, is that person, and like John Wall, he had himself a helluva day on Sunday.
Here’s the stat line, which is enough to warrant a pat on the back (to say the absolute least) in itself: 3 for 5, 2 home runs, 5 RBIs, 2 runs.
That’s a nice day for anybody, but add in that both of his home runs came with two outs, and it becomes even more impressive. Add in that the Nationals won, 6-4, and Harper accounted for five of the team’s six runs in just two swings, and it becomes even more impressive.
But the pièce de résistance? That would be the second home run, which was not only an absolute shot, but it was a walk-off.
Not too shabby, Mr. Harper. Harper is now batting a cool .333/.455/.644 for the season, with four home runs, two doubles, 15 hits, 12 runs, 13 RBIs and 10 walks.
Like Wall, he wasn’t the only bright spot in the game for Washington. Adam Eaton continued his hot start to the season, going 3 for 5 with a double and a pair of runs, and Anthony Rendon had his third good game in a row after an unimpressive start to the season, going 2 for 5 with a double, an RBI and a run. Gio Gonzalez pitched 7.1 innings and allowed two earned runs on five hits and three walks while striking out two.
Bonus: Wizards Get Help
The Wizards caught a break with how the regular season wrapped up, in that they won’t have to face the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers until the conference finals, if both teams make it that far.
The winner of the Wizards and Hawks series is scheduled to play the winner of the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls series. The Celtics are the top seed in the conference and are heavily favored, but they fell to the Bulls in the opening game of the series, in Boston. That benefits the Wizards, assuming they emerge victorious over the Hawks, because it prevents a Boston sweep from occurring.
It’s a small perk, but if the Wizards do beat the Hawks, they won’t want to come into a matchup with the Celtics, assuming the Celtics win the series, coming off a lengthy rest. It would be preferable for Washington if the Bulls won, as the Wizards would be favored in that series. But even if Chicago can’t pull off the upset, the more games it makes Boston play, the better for Washington. A fatigued Celtics team is better for the Wizards than a fresh and well-rested Celtics team.
It was a positive day for all in the D.C. area, but it wasn’t the first time a day like it has happened.
Ice Cube would probably have something to say about D.C. on this day.