Wizards

Wizards

The streak continues for the Wizards, and it’ll be the Cleveland Cavaliers up next with the best chance to break it. Despite a flat performance Saturday, they closed on a 15-0 run late in the fourth against the New Orleans Pelicans to win 105-91 in front of 19,651.

The Wizards (30-20) have won 17 in a row to rocket up the East standings. They made it difficult on themselves after leading 14-2 just four minutes into the game to win the season series 2-0. They won 107-94 a week ago.

John Wall had his 30th double-double (24 points, 13 rebounds, five steals) and Marcin Gortat (12 points, 17 rebounds) his 29th on Polish Heritage Night, but there wasn’t much else to cheer in what was sloppy play until the defense clamped down in the final six minutes. Bradley Beal (12 points), Markieff Morris (18 points) and Otto Porter (12 points, nine rebounds, three steals) rounded out all starters scoring in double figures for an NBA-leading 18th time.

Anthony Davis (25 points, 10 rebounds) and Jrue Holiday (13 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists), who combined for 62 points onJan. 29, had better support from the role players as Terrence Jones (15 points) and Tyreke Evans (15 points) made an impact.

In the end, however, the coverage from Gortat and Morris led to Davis going 0-for-3 for zero points and just one rebound in the fourth quarter after he’d shot 11-for-14 for 25 points in the first three. Holiday failed to score in the fourth when he missed all five attempts to finish 5-for-17.

 

The Wizards are 22-6 at home which matches their total home wins in all of last season when they went 41-41. They held the Pelicans (19-32) without a field goal after they took a 91-90 lead on Evans' three-point shot.

The Wizards are off Sunday and will face the Cavaliers, the Nol 1 team in the East, on Monday.

--The Pelicans trapped Beal with the ball rather than switching a big onto him in space, which is what they did to their detriment last time. Wall didn't face that coverage as much which led to him getting to the rim more often.  That put the pressure onto others to hit the open looks on the ball movement and the Wizards faltered with 9-for-22 shooting, or 40.9%, in the third quarter when the Pelicans took the lead 83-80 entering the fourth. The Wizards turned the tide in the fourth by exploiting a team that only had nine turnovers in the first three quarters. New Orleans had six in the final 12 minutes as Evans’ decision-making hurt them in the half court.

--When Wall returned with 7:07 in the second quarter, the spread remained relatively the same. It was 24-18 after the first quarter and 36-29 when he replaced Trey Burke. The bench contributed 27 points total which is a good output for them, and they’re still not giving up leads. Defensively is where the second unit excelled.

--Tomas Satoransky (four points, three assists) is starting to find his footing offensively, which had been a major problem for him after he fell out of the rotation earlier this season. He got to the rim for a layup and made both foul shots in the first half. His output remains modest, but the important thing is he’s trending upward.

--Despite a 23-19 rebounding edge, the Wizards were getting punished in the paint. The Pelicans had a 30-12 edge in scoring even though Gortat had 12 rebounds alone in the first 24 minutes. The long rebounds off missed jumpers allowed New Orleans inside where it finished shots. The 57.1% shooting in the second quarter erased most of Washington’s 12-point lead. When it was over, New Orleans had a 52-36 edge in paint points and 14-8 in second-chance points though they lost on the boards 46-42.

--The Pelicans used Davis on Morris, who successfully isolated on post-ups in their first meeting against the likes of Dante Cunningham and Terrence Jones. Gortat wasn’t able to take full advantage of the much smaller (though stronger) Jones as he started 2-for-6. Morris was 2-for-5. In the fourth,  Morris took advantage against Cunningham on those post-ups to score nine points which included a lob for a dunk.

--When the Lakers made their run at the Wizards to make it a close game, they went to a lineup with four guards. The Pelicans did the same when Oubre entered to defend Holiday on the ball. Coach Alvin Gentry put in Evans for another ball-handler and pulled Jones off the floor.

 

-- The Wizards are 10 games above .500 for the first time since they were 16-6 during the 2014-15 season. 

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