The New Orleans Pelicans have two wins in their last seven games and those were against the Cleveland Cavaliers and the San Antonio Spurs. They can surprise good teams, and on Saturday night at the Verizon Center, they entered the fourth quarter up three points on a Wizards team that was seeking their 17th straight win at home. With the Cavs up next for Washington, the Wizards were facing a potential letdown in a trap game that the Pelicans have proven willing to provide.
But all of that was not meant to be. The Wizards rallied and locked the Pelicans down for a season-low eight points in the fourth quarter. They also kept superstar Anthony Davis scoreless in the final frame.
"It was just winning time. Fourth quarter it’s all or nothing," guard Bradley Beal said. "You do what you got to do to get the win... we didn't get rattled. Not one time... It's kind of like a bad game overall for us but we did a great job in the fourth of turning everything around."
"I didn't even know they scored eight," forward Markieff Morris, who scored nine points in the fourth quarter himself, said.
The fourth quarter defensive effort started with the Wizards' bench. Their reserves began the frame and helped the Wizards take a quick lead. That run featured blocks by Jason Smith and Trey Burke.
"Anytime you can hold an NBA team to eight points, you're doing something good," head coach Scott Brooks said. "I would like to think it was good defense. I'm sure it was some of us and they were missing some shots, but I thought we picked it up defensively."
Brooks pointed to Marcin Gortat, who was the center of attention on Polish Heritage Night at the Verizon Center, as the key to stopping Davis down the stretch.
"Marcin did a great job. He had a lot of good plays tonight, and contesting Davis' shot. Those are the ones that you can't do anything about, but I thought he did a good job throughout the game, especially in that fourth quarter," Brooks said. "It's stressful to have all these people come from Poland to come out here and support him, and the event last night was terrific, but I thought he really did a great job in guarding him and rebounding and setting screens tonight. He helped us big time with this win."
The Wizards locked in and did what they were supposed to do: beat the lowly Pelicans to set up a massive regular season test against the defending champions on Monday. Now armed with a 17-game home winning streak, and a seven-game winning streak overall, their longest in 12 years, the Wizards are riding high into one of the biggest games in recent franchise history.