On a night in which the Washington Wizards were missing two of their starters in Russell Westbrook and Thomas Bryant, the home team could not be stopped. Call it what you want: beginner’s luck, uncharacteristically bad three-point shooting (14.8 percent) from Phoenix or fortune favoring the Wizards. I call it a 128–107 masterclass win.
Hyperbole aside, there is a lot to like from tonight’s game. Against one of the hottest teams in the west, Washington posted their best defensive effort, holding a potent Phoenix offense to just 107 points.
With Bradley Beal coming back from coronavirus protocols earlier than initially feared and looking strong early (34 points, eight rebounds and nine assists), the Wizards’ defense kept Devin Booker, who finished with 33 points and three rebounds, to six points — none in the final seven minutes of the quarter — and got him to pick up two fouls. On the other end, Washington displayed a rare bit of discipline, going more than eight minutes without committing a foul. A 17–5 run to end the quarter saw the home team up 29–15 after one.
As Beal started the second off the floor, the bench unit went to work so that when Beal came checked in at the 6:29 mark, the Wizards went on a 16–10 run. Davis Bertans, who was 6–9 from three and added 18 points off the bench, torched the Suns from deep. After two quarters played, the Wizards owned a 68–42 lead and finished with their best defensive half of the season — Washington held Phoenix to 42, a considerable improvement from the 85 they let up in their previous game against Miami.
The third quarter was a classic tale of, “anything you can do, I can do better.” For every Booker basket, Beal responded. When Chris Paul (14 points, 11 assist) was scoring, it was a combination of Raul Neto (16 points, two assists) and Rui Hachimura (10 points, nine rebounds) answering the call. Beal capped off the third with a splendid up-and-under, simply toying with Damian Jones. With each team putting up 36 in the third, Washington ensured the visitors did not make up any ground.
In a final frame in which Beal played a total of four and a half minutes, Ish Smith (six points, six assists) assumed the role of floor general and, with his speed and game management acumen, helped the Wizards see out the game.
The focus now shifts to maintaining the momentum when the Utah Jazz visit on Wednesday.