The Washington Wizards continued their hot run with a 105-100 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night.
Washington came into this came as the No. 1 seed in the East, sitting impressively at 9-3 at top of the East. And, boy, sure did the Wizards look full of themselves in the first half.
The New Orleans Pelicans are still an NBA team, as the Wizards probably realized at half-time, as they headed to the locker-room trailing by 17 points, 41-58.
It was entertaining watching Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma repeatedly going at each other during the first half. But that was pretty much the only entertaining thing to watch in the first half.
This could be expected as, sure, Bradley Beal was sitting due to injury. But two buts.
First, that does not seem to be a big hindrance recently as the Wizards are doing really well, as their place in the standings attests, with less than optimal performance from their star thanks to their newfound depth. Second, it is understandable that the Wizards discounted the tanking Pelicans who are themselves missing superstar Zion.
Be it as it may, the second half looked very different and was rather entertaining.
Perhaps something in the Wizards’ energy level changed. And if so that was in large part thanks to Spencer Dinwiddie. In the first several possessions Dinwiddie essentially looked for his own shot and scored on consecutive tries to cut the lead to 14, 49-63 which prompteda Pelicans time-out. Dinwiddie and KCP then made back-to-back threes to cut the lead down all the way to 5, 61-66, whichled to a second Pelicans time-out only 5 minutes into the third quarter.
Ingram Brandon and Josh Hart, two ex-Lakers, responded to bring the lead back up to double-digits, 72-61. The quarter ended with the usual back-and-forth, and, notably, Raul Neto missing three consecutives free-throws while Spencier Dinwiddie made three consecutive free-throws.
Did we already mention that the refs were easy with the whistle today? Yes, there were very plenty of foul calls especially in the second half. Coach Unsfeld was visibly irritated with the love Ingram was getting from the refs and challenged one of them already in the third quarter, which is a bit unusual. The challenged was not successful, though, and perhaps could have been saved to later in the game. I guess Unsfeld is also in his rookie year.
The fourth quarter started with even higher energy levels, and it was clear that it’s just a matter of time until the Wizards will make it a close game. Harrell as usual was high on energy as you can see in this play (half flop, half good positioning):
Deni Avdija displayed his usual tough defense:
Even though he played long minutes with 4 and then 5 fouls he did not relent even in tough defensive matchups with Brandon Ingram. With 3 minutes left he capped an excellent defensive possesion with a transition offense and an easy layup to give Washington their first lead, 94-92. And he didn’t stop there with another nice floater for a 98-92 lead:
Then the floodgates seemed to open with a wide-open corner three for KCP for the “dagger” 101-92, with 1:19 left in regulation.
Overall, Dinwiddie finished with 27 points (on 8-for-20 but 4-for-8 from deep), 9 assists, 5 rebounds (including an offensive one to seal the game in the last seconds). Avdija had 11 points, 10 rebounds (his first double double of the season?) and at least several assists (even though the scoreboard showed a single assist), here was a nice dish to Kuzma who recently can’t miss:
Harrell brought his usual energy along with 14 points, and KCP was accurate with 4-for-8 for three and 18 points. Satoransky was back in town on the Pelicans but piled up fouls early and didn’t bring his A-game tonight. Brandon Ingram was excellent with 31 points but didn’t get enough help from his depleted teammates.
The Wizards are now 10-3, and will head down south to Charlotte and Miami before coming back to D.C. to face Miami again.