The Wizards’ three-game losing streak is over! Washington took care of business at home against the floundering Charlotte Hornets with a 118-104 win. Kristaps Porzingis and Deni Avdija led the way on the offensive end as DC blew Charlotte out in the second half. The Wizards are now 25-29 in 11th place in the Eastern Conference on trade deadline day. With just 28 games left in the season, every win is crucial in Washington’s playoff (or, more accurately, play-in) chase. Here’s what the Wizards said after the victory.
Wes Unseld Jr.
On what worked on the perimeter: “Our ball movement. You know, they bottled us up a little bit on the sideline. They were trying to blitz the ball. They gave us some problems but in general, I thought we had decent possessions. We ran the clock down and they were shot clock violations, but the intent was good.” (question from Chase Hughes)
On the defensive-oriented starting lineup: “The biggest thing [early in the game] was their transition. We calculate transition points for different than what shows up in the box. There was 18 transition points in that first half. . . Once we kind of tighten that area up, I thought it got better. One-on-one containment was better, rim protection was solid, and we did a decent job on the glass.” (question from Josh Robbins)
On Deni’s development: “We’re going to use his as a playmaker. He has the ability to push the open floor and those decisions are they got to be quick. I think he’s done a better job of processing where the defenders are and of not pre-programming where he’s going to make those plays. We’ve talked about his finishing improving, which is an added bonus. So now as he gets downhill, his level of aggression is to finish. I think that slows everything down for [him].” (question from Gabe Ibrahim)
On whether slower pace was a choice: “Not necessarily. Whenever we get stops, we have a license to run and we want to run and we’re usually pretty good in that area. Obviously, Kuz is the catalyst for a lot of that. He does a terrific job of rebounding and pushing. So you don’t have him on the floor and you don’t have Monte on the floor. So it detracts a little bit from those areas. But I’d rather make sure we get efficient possessions, even if we have to execute the halfcourt.” (question from Gabe Ibrahim)
On the 18-point explosion in 3rd quarter: “I told myself I knew it [was coming]. I even looked at my people in the bleachers and Zack [Guthrie], our assistant coach, and told them ‘it’s coming.’ I hit the last three before to half and I had the feeling that I was going to get it going in the second half. They’re the type of team that plays a little bit of like chaotic [defense], but they give up some threes and give up some decent looks in the first half. I knew in the second half, [those looks] would be there. I just had that mindset that I’m making those and that’s it.” (question from Chase Hughes)
On Deni’s development: “I think he’s figuring out his game and what he’s good at. [When he goes right], he’s really good and strong. He has a strong base to take contact, he can finish, and he gets a lot of em ones. He’s also figuring out [that] he can make shots, but he has to find the right situations for him. He’s doing that and you can see he’s percentages are going up. He’s much more comfortable out there and is much more confident. I don’t think there’s anybody happier than me seeing him play at a high level and giving us this spark.” (question from Gabe Ibrahim)
On whether his offense is helping other aspects of his game: My defense and rebounding is my bread and butter and pushing after I grab a rebound to facilitate for other people. Lately, I’ve been more aggressive looking at the basket and seeing how I can finish and score. I feel like when I combine all those three, it’s a really good combo. =I have a lot of things to improve but I like that my bread and butter is rebounding and defense and hopefully I’ll grow from there. (question from Josh Robbins)
On comfort in halfcourt offense: “I think the halfcourt offense has been better. The spacing has been better. I like cutting when I’m when I don’t have the ball and I think I really facilitated well in pick and roll and I’m doing a better job. Of course, you get confidence in the halfcourt. But, as I said, I love playing in transition and really pushing the pace. I think is important for our team.” (question from Gabe Ibrahim)
Washington takes on the Indiana Pacers on Saturday at 7 pm in Captial One Arena. This is the team’s last home game before a three-game road trip out West. Then, it’s the All-Star break.