It took three quarters for Markieff Morris to wake up and take advantage of the matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans, and when he did he sparked the Wizards for two runs – the latter leading them to a 107-94 win at Smoothie King Center on Sunday.
It was the Wizards’ fourth win in a row, eighth in nine games and their fourth in five road games.
New Orleans (19-29) had trimmed the deficit to 83-80 after Anthony Davis completed a layup and the free throw on the foul and another foul shot after Wizards coach Scott Brooks was assessed a technical.
But the Wizards (27-20) went on an 8-0 that included a three by Morris and Bradley Beal to go up again by double digits. Otto Porter’s third three-pointer and another jumper by Morris sealed it with a 100-88 lead with a little more than three minutes left.
John Wall (18 points, 19 assists) earned his 27th double-double and Marcin Gortat (17 points, 11 rebounds) his 26th double-double. Beal (27 points, six rebounds) and Morris (21 points, eight rebounds) also contributed. Wall's 19 assists tied a career-high.
Anthony Davis (36 points, 17 rebounds) and Jrue Holiday (26 points, 11 assists) led New Orleans in a comeback from an 18-point deficit. The duo combined to make 26 of 44 shots but didn’t get much help elsewhere. No other starter scored in double figures.
The Wizards are 21-9 since Dec. 1, the best record in that span in the East. They’ve won 9 of 10 vs. the Pelicans.
-- The Morris-Trey Burke combination continues to thrive. Morris scored off two assists from Burke to begin the fourth quarter, including a three-pointer, and he returned the favor to the point guard on a cut to the basket. It helped steady the Wizards with the outcome in the balance.
--The Pelicans were held to 40 points in the first half, only the third time the Wizards kept a team to 40 or less. The previous two times came against the same team – in a Nov. 5 loss vs. the Orlando Magic and 38 on Nov. 25 in a win vs. Orlando. It marked the third consecutive road game an opponent has been held to 48 or less.
--New Orleans is known for switching smalls onto bigs, and vice versa. They allowed Solomon Hill to matchup with Gortat in the low post and Holiday vs. Morris and Buddy Hield vs. Morris. They didn’t make them pay enough early because they rarely finished these chances, though it did allow for Jason Smith’s highlight, one-handed putback dunk on an offensive rebound. Wall took full advantage of when he was guarded at the top of the key on a switch by Donatas Motiejunas. He blew by him for a tomahawk dunk in the first quarter. Wall ended the first half with consecutive jumpers for a 57-40 lead with Motiejunas again stranded at the top of the key. He played so soft, Wall was able to get into a rhythm on his dribble and pull up.
--The defense slacked off to begin the third quarter when Holiday was allowed to step into three-pointers without anyone running at him in transition. They got the lead down to 66-58 with a 7-0 run but the Wizards aided them in the comeback. They turned the ball over in four of their first six possessions out of the locker room, allowing New Orleans to briefly take the lead 73-72 with 49.6 seconds left. It Washington’s first time trailing in a game since 6-5 to the Charlotte Hornets on Jan. 23.
--Davis only scored 27 total points in two meetings with the Wizards last season, but he keyed the run in the third when he made 7 of 10 shots. Davis has played at center since the season began, when Omer Asik had the starting job until falling out of coach Alvin Gentry’s rotation. While Davis can be pushed around by traditional bigs, he’s difficult for them to cover away from the rim. He only had eight points in the first half when the Pelicans were isolation heavy. But they got more motion into their sets and into transition.