So much for predicting that the Washington Wizards would begin the 2021-22 NBA season on a slow start, at least so far. Washington won 135-134 on Friday night against the Indiana Pacers in their first home game this season.
This game wasn’t just Washington’s home opener. It was also the first home game of head coach Wes Unseld, Jr.’s tenure in that role for Washington. If that weren’t enough, Wes Unseld, or the late legend (and Wes, Jr.’s dad) had a bust unveiled in the arena yesterday. All of that, and Bradley Beal’s late scratch due to a hip injury the incentive for the tam to win tonight.
Neither team led by double digits until the third quarter when Washington made a 14-0 run in the third quarter to lead 104-92 late. Along the way, Raul Neto seemed to be able to score at will where he scored 10 of his 18 points. Same with Montrezl Harrell.
Indiana was able to chip away at the lead at The forth quarter and was able to get a 116-115 lead with over four minutes left in regulation and were ultimately able to make it a 123-117 lead with under two minutes left after a Chris Duarte three.
With Beal out tonight, the backcourt scoring responsibilities largely fell on Spencer Dinwiddie’s shoulders. He scored 34 points to lead all scorers and even scored a game-tying three with 33 seconds left to make the score 123 all. At that time, he even scored eight straight all by himself and the game went to overtime. And even after the Pacers scored 6 consecutive points to start things off in extra time, Dinwiddie made the game time-tying three. And with less than a minute left, Davis Bertans made a three that decided the game.
Dinwiddie also added 9 assists and only turned the ball over once. Washington as a team only committed 9 turnovers while dishing 24 assists as a whole.
In addition for Washington, Bertans had 17 points, including his go-ahead three in overtime. And Kyle Kuzma scored 26 points to be Dinwiddie’s sidekick and top offensive option tonight.
After the game in postgame media, Kuzma stated that he was a bit surprised that the crowd was fuller than he anticipated, based on preseason numbers. 15,407 people were reported to be in attendance tonight. Hopefully this number increases as the season goes on.
For the Pacers, Myles Turner led all scorers with 40 points, while Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis scored 28 points each.
Washington’s next game is on Monday when they play the Brooklyn Nets on the road this Monday. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. ET. See you then!