Already with a major deficit in size because of injuries to almost every post player, the Wizards made beating the Phoenix Suns on Friday incredibly difficult with another game exceeding 20 turnovers. This time, they won despite themselves, 109-106 at Verizon Center in front of 17,255 by holding the visitors to one field goal and forcing five turnovers in the final seven minutes.
The Wizards (8-9) wore them down with better defense, absent in a first half when Phoenix (8-12) 61% to lead 60-51. Washington's only lead before the ending was 2-0. But Bradley Beal had a season-high 34 points, assisted Otto Porter on the go-ahead play at 1:42, made a bank shot with 48 seconds left and a pair of free throws with 12 seconds remaining.
John Wall had 17 points, nine assists and five rebounds, Porter had 13 points, seven rebounds and two blocks, Ramon Sessions 18 points and Gary Neal 12 points and six rebounds. Beal also had nine rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Phoenix's backcourt of Eric Bledsoe (22 points) and Brandon Knight (19) were rendered non-factors when it mattered as coach Randy Wittman went to small-ball lineups that had Jared Dudley, Porter and even Garrett Temple defending Markieff Morris when he played at the five. Bledsoe and Knight were held to a combined six points in the fourth on 1-for-6 shooting.
The Suns had 21 turnovers, two fewer than the Wizards who were coming off a disappointing home loss to the L.A. Lakers on Wednesday. They had 23 giveaways in that letdown as well.
Beal and Sessions scored 20 of the Wizards' 31 points in the fourth on 7 of 9 shooting and Wall had seven points as he went to the foul line six times.
- With the size deficit inside because of the absence of Marcin Gortat (personal leave) and injuries to Nene, Drew Gooden and Kris Humphries, Ryan Hollins started and made his first shot. He only played 13 minutes. The Wizards went with Dudley more in the middle, but unlike the Cleveland Cavaliers who couldn't exploit it the Suns did in the first half. Jon Leuer, who averaged 7.2 points coming in, made six of his first seven shots mostly at the rim. At 6-10, he's a good enough shooter and agile enough to succeed against a small-ball lineup. Dudley is just 6-7 and missed all six of his first-half attempts.
- Temple's success harassing the Suns' backcourt led to him starting the third quarter instead of Dudley, who didn't play until the fourth. It worked as the Wizards were able to trim the deficit to 64-63 when Wall found Temple stepping into a three-pointer. Temple is the Wizards' best one-on-one defender and it was apparent with his harassment of Bledsoe and disrupting their offense. Temple took away his drives to the basket, which is what Bledsoe prefers despite being a 40% shooter from three. When Temple was on the floor, the Wizards made their runs. When he left, the Suns regained it each time.
- DeJuan Blair is in really good condition, but after playing four minutes and picking up two quick fouls he wasn't the answer. He turned things around in the third quarter, however, when he replaced Hollins. Blair was active on the boards and fighting for loose balls. He made both of his field goals for four points, four rebounds and two assists. He also drew a charge on Warren with 1:57 left when he anticipated his drive and helped Beal. It was just 10 minutes but his best showing of the season.
- The shots remain there for Porter but he still can't knock them down with regularity, especially from deep. The three-point shot refuses to fall even with Wall setting him up perfectly. In his last seven games, Porter is 5 of 23 on threes. Most of his field goals had to be converted closer to the basket. The Wizards opened the third quarter down 60-51 and Porter had two turnovers -- tripping over himself in a Shaqtin-A-Fool fashion and another for his second traveling violation of the game. He gave the Wizards a 104-103 lead late with a three-point play, but with a chance to add to it he was called for third travel that erased his basket. He made up for it but all three violations appeared to be the correct calls.
- The Suns were forced to adjust to the Wizards, instead of the other way around which is more common, as Wittman wisely stuck with Sessions for 24 minutes as he was able to get to the rim at will. Neal only played six minutes in the second half. With 7-foot center Alex Len only playing 15 minutes and Morris in the middle, there was no shot-blocking presence as Sessions made 8 of 12 to tie his season-high in attempts.