Games that happen within 24 hours of the trade deadline are always a bit strange, especially with two sub .500 teams like the Wizards and Hornets.
But let’s concentrate on basketball and numbers. As much as possible.
The Wizards got Bradley Beal back for this one. Kyle Kuzma was still out and so was fan favorite and Wizards’ draftee Kelly Oubre Jr. Here were the starting lineups:
The game got off to a balanced start with the Wizards winning the first quarter 32-31, but the teams heading to the locker-rooms at halftime tied at 61-61. The third quarter is where the Hornets surrendered 15-27, and it never got really close in the fourth.
It was not as if the Hornets’ bench caused their demise. LaMelo Ball was +7 in his 36 minutes and PJ Washington was +6. But, Mason Plumlee struggled and was -15 in his 31 minutes, and Terry Rozier was -18 in his 37 minutes. Dennis Smith Jr. off the bence was similarly -19 in 25 minutes.
At the end, the Wizards can play decent basketball with both Beal and the Unicorn on the floor. Porzingis, had himself a night, going off for 36 points and 8 from 14 from deep. Avdija had another 20 point night to go along with 13 rebounds (and was 3-from-5 from deep; this improves his season percentage to 29 percent, still below his career 31 percent), even as Beal slightly disappointed with 17 points on 15 shots (but with 10 assists, as did Delon Wright).
The Wizards won 118—104 and now go up to 11th in the East, as the Pacers wisely and surely tank their way to the bottom. The Wizards now possess the 8th worst record in the league. With the Lakers making some big moves in the trade market maybe that could improve to the 7th worst. The ping-pong balls are now becoming increasingly relevant.
The Wizards next face the Pacers in a direct clash for the 12th spot in the East.