The Washington Wizards beat the Phoenix Suns 109-99 on Thursday night. Here's analysis of what went down...
Closer than it should have been: The Wizards had no excuse losing to the Suns without Devin Booker and lose they did not, but this one was way more interesting than it should have been. The Wizards were up just one point entering the fourth quarter and, though they won by 10 points, the Suns cut the game to 96-94 with 5:46 left in the fourth quarter.
The Suns have proven a dangerous match for the Wizards this season. They came back from down 22 points to beat Washington back on Nov. 1 in Washington. In this one they erased a nine-point deficit to give the Wizards a scare. Phoenix actually jumped out to a 24-12 lead in the first quarter before the Wizards woke up and got serious.
It was a tougher road than it should have been, but a win is a win and the Wizards are now 5-4 on the season without John Wall and 4-3 since his latest injury. This was the first time they have won two straight without Wall this season.
It has been a crazy few weeks with wild ups and downs, but the overall result has been something they probably would have signed up for going in. They are now 14-11 overall on the season.
Encore, do you want more: The odds of Bradley Beal following up his amazing 51-point performance with another big game seemed good, as the Phoenix Suns rank dead-last in the NBA in both defensive rating and opponent points per game. They are the worst team in the NBA defensively and Beal was coming in hot.
Those predictions came true. Beal picked up right where he left off in Portland with a dominant showing against the Suns. He dropped 34 points on 13-for-22 shooting. Beal has scored 30 points or more in two straight games for the fifth time in his career.
Beal caught fire early with 11 points in the first quarter and another 11 points in the second. The Suns began the game with rookie and fourth overall pick Josh Jackson guarding him. They tried different looks, but nothing worked.
The Wizards needed Beal to step up because others did not. Otto Porter was held to four points and two rebounds on 2-for-9 shooting. Marcin Gortat had four points and eight rebounds, but lost minutes to Ian Mahinmi.
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Phoenix Outlaw: Markieff Morris had combined for 19 points in his last two games and was averaging just 10.0 in his last six since John Wall had procedures on his left knee. Perhaps we should have known he would get things corrected on Thursday, given it was against his former team, a franchise he did not leave on good terms.
Whether it was extra motivation or not, Morris balled out. He finished with 21 points, six rebounds, two steals and a block. It was his second-most points of the season.
Morris doesn't like how the Suns treated him and his twin brother Marcus, how they traded Marcus after the two took less money to continue playing together. Morris likes to get back at them any chance he gets and he was a big reason for the Wizards' win.
The question now becomes whether Morris can do it again in two straight games. He hasn't been able to find consistency at all this season after missing the first seven games due to sports hernia surgery and a suspension. Only three times has he scored double-figures in two straight games and not once has he done so in three straight. This could be a breakthrough game, but we've thought that before and been proven wrong.
Off the bench: It was another good night for the second unit, which has been a big storyline during Wall's absence. They combined for 39 points with Kelly Oubre, Jr. (12 points, seven rebounds), Ian Mahinmi (10 points, eight rebounds) and Mike Scott (eight points, 3-for-3 FG) as the standouts.
Oubre and Scott have arguably been their most consistent bench players this season. Oubre is playing much smarter on both ends of the floor and Scott is proving to be instant offense more often than not.
Up next: The Wizards are off Friday before facing the Clippers in L.A. on Saturday. That game tips off at 3:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.
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