WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards beat the Golden State Warriors 123-115 on Sunday night at Capital One Arena. Here are five observations from what went down...
Two in a row
After a grueling few weeks in the middle of March, the tide is beginning to turn for the Wizards as they close the month. They beat the Warriors on Sunday night for their second straight win, the first time they have won consecutive games since Jan. 11 and 12. Yeah, it's been a while.
It definitely didn't hurt the Wizards' cause that Stephen Curry didn't play. He is out with an ankle injury and the Warriors have now lost five of their last six games, including the one he got hurt in. That said, they still had Klay Thompson (25 points), Draymond Green (six assists) and Andrew Wiggins (23 points) among one of the deepest and most balanced rosters in the league.
The Wizards will take wins any way they can get them and have now won three of their last five. They are 32-42 on the season.
Not that this matters, but the Wizards' over-under for wins (34 1/2) set by sportsbooks before the season continues to be fascinating. Now that they have won two straight, they only need to win three of their last eight games to hit the over. But if they go 2-6, they will come under that and, given they won two of their previous 10 games before Sunday, that's entirely possible. It's going to be close.
Kispert was on
Sunday's game was one of the best of Corey Kispert's young career so far, if not the best. The Wizards rookie caught fire early and led all scorers with 16 points in the first half. He had a career-high 25 points for the game, shooting 9-for-12 overall and 6-for-9 from three. The six threes were also a career-high.
Kispert's second three was his 92nd on the year and set a Wizards rookie franchise record, passing Bradley Beal. His sixth tied Beal for the most threes in a game by a Wizards rookie. Kispert is going to end up with over 100 threes this season and his percentage is ticking upward. After Sunday's game, he's shooting 35.2% from deep on the year. That's not bad for a rookie and, all in all, he's shown plenty of promise this season for a 15th overall pick.
While the Warriors are known for their 3-point shooting, the Wizards essentially beat them at their own game with a big night from beyond the arc. Washington shot 16-for-28 from deep, making 10 threes in the first half alone. Kispert led the way, but Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also made three threes, so did Deni Avdija and Hachimura hit two of them. Caldwell-Pope was lights-out with 22 points on a perfect 8-for-8 from the field.
This game represented a breakout of sorts for the Wizards from three. They had shot 30% or worse in each of their last three games. The Warriors are good at defending threes, too, ranking fourth in the NBA in opponents' 3-point percentage (34.0).
Gill gave a boost
With Kyle Kuzma out once again, the Wizards continued to use Anthony Gill as the backup four behind Rui Hachimura. Gill came through against the Warriors with nine points to go along with eight rebounds. He made some nice plays including a spin move to drop in a floater and a tough layup through contact at the rim.
Games like this could help Gill stay in the league come the offseason when he hits free agency. His volume numbers remain modest and are nearly identical year-over-year, but he's shot a higher percentage and has generally looked more like he belongs. He should have a decent case for another contract, whether it's here or elsewhere.
Kuzma out, but close
This was the fifth straight game the Wizards played without Kuzma, who remains sidelined with right knee tendinitis. Given there are only a handful of games left, head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said they absolutely intend to have Kuzma play more games and they are hopeful he will be back soon rather than shutting him down.
Apparently, the last time Kuzma did a workout to test his knee, he went a little too far and felt some discomfort afterward. Certainly, the Wizards will hope that doesn't happen when he does come back, as there is not much to play for at the moment. The last thing they would want is for him to injure himself further.