Wizards end skid, hand Hornets fifth straight loss
Published 9:58 pm Wednesday, February 8, 2023
By BEN NUCKOLS
AP Sports Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — Kristaps Porzingis scored 36 points and matched a career high with eight 3-pointers, and the Washington Wizards beat the Charlotte Hornets 118-104 on Wednesday night to stop a three-game skid.
Deni Avdija had 20 points and 12 rebounds and Bradley Beal had 17 points and 10 assists for the Wizards, who broke open a close game in the third quarter and handed the Hornets their fifth straight loss.
Porzingis scored 18 points in the third, including a personal 8-2 run in which he made a 3, blocked a shot attempt by JT Thor and drained another 3. The 7-foot-3 Latvian concluded the burst with a 15-foot jumper to put the Wizards ahead 86-74, their largest lead to that point.
P.J. Washington scored 20 points, Terry Rozier had 19 and LaMelo Ball added 16 for Charlotte, which entered the night only one game clear of the Eastern Conference cellar. The Hornets came in ranked 30th in the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage and went 9 of 31 (29%).
The Wizards took three of four games in the season series between the struggling franchises. All three previous games were decided by eight points or fewer, and this one appeared headed in that direction during a first half in which neither team led by double digits. Washington was ahead 32-31 after the first quarter and Avdija’s 3 sent the game into halftime tied at 62.
Beal, a game-time decision because of left foot soreness, picked his spots to attack and struggled with his outside shot, but he looked healthy when he drove from the wing midway through the third quarter and elevated over the outstretched arm of Mark Williams for a dunk that put Washington up 72-67.
The Wizards expanded their advantage in the fourth quarter with Porzingis on the bench. He re-entered midway through the period and put the game away when he made his seventh 3 from the top of the key for a 105-82 lead.
Hornets: This is their fourth skid of five games or more this season. … Coach Steve Clifford identified Porzingis’ range as a problem for his team before the game, noting the matchup problems he presents when the Wizards play him at forward with Daniel Gafford at center.
Wizards: Two starters were out: F Kyle Kuzma missed his second straight game with a sprained left ankle and PG Monte Morris sat with back tightness. … Delon Wright started in Morris’ spot and had 10 assists. … Gafford limped off the court with 10:05 left in the second quarter. He returned to the Wizards’ bench late in the period and re-entered the game early in the third. He finished with 13 points. … Porzingis had nine rebounds.
Hornets: At Boston on Friday night.
Wizards: Host Indiana on Saturday night.
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