Wizards beat Suns without Bradley Beal for fourth win in five games
Wizards beat Suns for fourth win in five games originally shown on NBC Sports Washington
WASHINGTON – The Washington Wizards defeated the Phoenix Suns 127-102 on Wednesday night at Capital One Arena. Here are five takeaways from what fell…
4 out of 5
As the Wizards worked through their 10-game losing streak, those involved put aside panic for the hope that things would improve as they got healthier. They became healthier and actually had better results.
Washington shut out the Phoenix Suns at home on Wednesday night for their third straight win and fourth in five games. After their worst stretch in a decade, suddenly the Wizards are rolling. They are doing it even against good teams. All four of those wins have come against teams currently holding postseason berths.
The Wizards beat the Suns in several key areas, including points in the paint (60-28), bench points (48-24), rebounds (46-for-30) and at the free throw line where they shot 25-for -28 compared to 11-16 for Phoenix. That helped offset the Suns’ advantage in three-point shooting, as the Wizards essentially backed up every other area of the game.
The Wizards just played two games at home after a six-game West Coast road trip, but will now be back on the road for three more. They see the Magic on Friday before heading to Milwaukee for two games and then Oklahoma City.
Hachimura stayed hot
Rui Hachimura has settled back into his role very well since returning from a long layoff with a bone bruise in his right ankle. He had his third straight game in double figures, this time tying a career high with 30 points. Hachimura once again found an early rhythm, immediately knocking down a series of shots when he entered the game in the first quarter.
Hachimura could have set a new career high for points in this game if the Wizards weren’t outscored by so much. Unseld Jr. emptied his bench with 1:58 to go as Washington led by 24 points and had the game well in hand. Hachimura will have to settle for his best game of the season with an untouched 11-for-13 shooting from the field. He also had five rebounds and a block. It’s a cliche in basketball for players to be stars in their role, but Hachimura is really starting to come off the bench for the Wizards.
Beal was out
Both teams were missing their leading scorers, as Bradley Beal sat out with a hamstring injury he suffered the night before and Devin Booker missed the game with a groin strain that will keep him out a month. Fortunately for the Wizards, Beal’s injury is not as serious as Booker’s. Although he was unable to play, he was a game-time decision and warmed up on the field before the announcement. It looks like Beal could be back for Friday’s game against the Magic.
While Beal was out, and Delon Wright continued to play on a strict minutes limit, Will Barton remained out of the rotation. Normally, an injury to Beal would open the door for Barton, but coach Wes Unseld Jr. seems to be working around Barton at the moment. Instead of replacing Beal in the rotation, he simply cut him. What that means for Barton moving forward remains to be seen.
Gafford was a force
The Wizards kept it moving with their two-center lineup even though Beal was missing. They replaced Beal with Corey Kispert in the starting lineup, sticking with Kyle Kuzma (22 points, 7 assists) at the three and Kristaps Porzingis (24 points, 7 rebounds) and Gafford at the four and five. Through an increasing sample size of Gafford and Porzingis playing together, we’ve seen positives for both players, and in this game, Gafford really thrived.
He was an absolute menace on both ends of the floor, blocking and altering shots on defense and tearing up the rim offensively. Gafford finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. It was one of those games where he played aggressively and stayed out of trouble. And his confidence built as the match went on with each key match as he had some emphatic celebrations that got the crowd going.
Wright lit a spark
With Wright still just coming back from a hamstring injury, the Wizards are only getting about 15 minutes out of him every night, but those are good minutes. He made a big difference in that one, especially late in the third quarter after the Wizards went on a 10-2 run to close the frame. During that stretch, Wright had two steals, an and-1 on the glass and a deflection that hindered an offensive play for the Suns. He had three points, three assists and three steals for the game, another stat that doesn’t do justice to his impact.
The Wizards are now 6-1 in Wright’s games compared to 8-20 when he was out. He’s not the only reason for this disparity, of course, but he just seems to tie a lot of things together for the Wizards. Their perimeter defense is significantly more devastating and he is a patient distributor who creates great opportunities for his teammates. Not many backup guards are as valuable to their teams as Wright is to his.