Bojan Bogdanovic leads the way with 29 points including a perfect 16-16 from the free-throw line as the Wizards burn the Suns, 131-127. John Wall added 25 points and 14 assists while the two reserve big men, Ian Mahinmi and Jason Smith both had one of their best games of the season with 15 and 17 points respectively.
The Wizards were all business to begin this game. After a semi-slow start, Bradley Beal took things into his own hands connecting on three of his first four shots to give Washington an early lead. Wall would find Beal in transition for three on back-to-back possessions as the Wizards got out to an early 21-14 lead. The Wizards shot 50 percent in the opening period as they led, 38-25.
Things got very chippy early on in the second quarter. Jason Smith set a hard screen on Tyler Ulis which didn’t sit well with Jared Dudley. Dudley and Smith went chest to chest while Brandon Jennings made a few hand gestures while scuffling with some of the Suns’ players. Dudley and Jennings would be ejected as a result.
The frontcourt reserves of Mahinmi and Smith continued to provide much-needed production as Mahinmi was finishing baskets around the hole while Smith was hitting his mid-range shot as the lead was stretched to 22, 56-34 midway through the second quarter.
A combination of the Wizards getting complacent and the Suns catching fire let Phoenix back in this game. Phoenix used a 22-4 run and trimmed the lead to as little as one, but still trailed 68-61 at halftime.
That sluggishness carried over to the second half as the Suns outscored the Wizards 15-2 to start the third quarter at the blink of an eye. Washington started the half 0-10 from the field and was quickly in an 11-point hole, 81-70. Jumpers by Jason Smith and drives by John Wall for easy layups got the Wizards back in this one.
Washington countered with a 12-0 run of their own to regain the lead 82-81 and led, 94-92 after three quarters.
The teams traded baskets for much of the fourth quarter but it was John Wall who gave the Wizards some breathing room on some very nice drives in traffic and finishes at the rim.
Phoenix hit some desperation threes down the stretch but Washington would hit their free throws to close this one out.
Washington starts the road swing off with a 131-127 victory.
Bojan Bogdanovic continues to come up big
As mentioned, Bogdanovic scored a team-high 29 points as he went a perfect 16-16 from the line. He was also very efficient from the field where he shot 5-9 overall and 3-6 from three-point range. Brooks opted to go with the hot hand in Bogdanovic over Porter down the stretch as the Wizards closed this game out. I don’t know if this is a sign of things to come but it’s nice to know that Brooks has that option now.
Bench comes up big
Outside of Bogdanovic, Mahinmi and Smith played probably their best games in a Wizards uniform this season. Mahinmi scored 15 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and had seven steals as he logged extended minutes due to Gortat being sidelined with foul trouble. Smith, on the other hand, was 6-7 from the field and knocked down both of his three-pointers for 17 points off the bench. It’s nice to know that the Wizards can count on Smith to stay ready, a guy who’s received limited minutes since the All-Star break.
The reserves combined for a season-high 65 points tonight.
The frontcourt starters continue to struggle
The trio of Porter-Morris-Gortat stayed in their funk tonight. That trio combined for 14 points on a combined 5-19 shooting while Otto Porter missed his only three-point attempt. It’s not time to push the panic button yet but this is definitely a concern. Gortat was forced to the bench with foul trouble but Morris and Porter can’t seem to find their rhythm. Porter took just six shots including one three-pointer while Morris was just 1-5 from the field.
Fortunately, the bench stepped up for the Wizards tonight. In games past, this probably would have been too much to overcome for a victory.