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Wizards find rhythm against Pelicans, 116-106
Beal, Wall, and Scott combined for 68 points in the win
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The Wizards finished up a four-game homestand with an 116-106 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday. Bradley Beal led the team with 26 points and John Wall added 18 points and 10 assists. The unsung hero one again was Mike Scott, who scored a season-high 24 points on 11-of-15 shooting, continuing his hot stretch. The Wizards scored 25 points off 16 Pelicans turnovers and shot 50.0% from the field to take the win.
Otto Porter Jr. sat out once again with a thigh bruise, and Kelly Oubre Jr. got the start in his place and played the majority of the minutes at the small forward position. The first quarter was all about Wall, who accounted for 27 of the Wizards' 36 points with his 14 points and six assists. Wall made 5-of-8 shots in the quarter and anchored the Wizards' 20-6 run to end the quarter. Marcin Gortat, who finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds, also provided a spark on both ends of the floor. The Polish Hammer scored eight points and grabbing six rebounds and holding DeMarcus Cousins to only 5-of-11 shooting, which is no easy task. Forcing six turnovers and shooting 15-of-25 (60.0%) in the first quarter, the Wizards took a 36-19 lead into the second quarter.
“Basically, them telling me to go out there and be aggressive and don’t worry about minutes and go play," Wall said of the first quarter. "Coach has been telling me since the last game. I went out there without thinking about when I was coming out of the game or when I’m going back in, just trying to play and make the right reads.”
Washington continued to dominate the first half, with Scott pouring in 11 of his 24 points. He made all six of his shots in the first half overall for 14 points, as he's now made 53 of his last 72 field goal attempts. The Wizards would open up a 25-point lead in the second quarter, but the Pelicans came back by drawing 14 fouls in the period. New Orleans made 19-of-22 free throws and used a 17-0 run to bring the game within single digits at the half, a stunning turn of events.
Utilizing a 28-3 run, the Pelicans tied it up at 61-61 with 10:21 left in the third quarter. The Wizards were on a seven-plus minute field goal drought, but would go on another big run to take a 23-point lead in the third. After the game was tied at 61, the Wizards went on a 30-7 run. Beal had 14 of his 26 points in the quarter, while Scott was once again a huge spark once Markieff Morris got in foul trouble.
The Pelicans tried to rally once more in the fourth, but the Wizards were able to withstand their comeback effort. Wall came back in with 9:57 to go in the game, and would hit a key 3-pointer and dish out four assists in the fourth. Beal had another eight of his points in the final quarter, while Scott added eight more of his own. The score indicated the game was closer than it was at the end, but the Wizards, besides a five-minute hiccup to end the first half, dominated against the Pelicans overall.
"It was important for us to just go back to our defensive principles and get off to a great start early on," Beal said postgame. "We got up 20 plus and then fouled away too much putting on the free-throw line and really just let them back in the game strictly off free throws. Then in the second half, we just turned it up again, and our defense is what won us the game."
Beal had 22 of his 26 points in the second half after missing six of his seven eight shots. After it appeared he rolled an ankle in the third quarter, Beal started to find his rhythm, making eight of his final 12 shots.
"I've told Brad, and I think he's really getting it, you just have to keep playing the right way, everything works itself out," Scott Brooks said postgame. "Great players always end up with opportunities. The way he's playing this year, he could have a 14-point quarter, he can have an 18-point quarter, just like that."
Scott, who is now averaging 17.5 points per game in his last six games, continues to be the best story of the season. He's so smooth on both ends of the floor that he's earned extra playing time and Coach Brooks' complete respect.
"It doesn't matter if we talk about it, it's not gonna jinx him," Brooks said after the game. "He's been shooting the ball so well."
The Wizards (17-14) head to Brooklyn next to take on the Nets on Friday at 7:30pm in the first of a back-to-back.