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FINAL: WIZARDS 101 | THUNDER 99
WIZARDS: Bradley Beal (20), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (20), Montrezl Harrell (14)
THUNDER: Luguentz Dort (21), Shai Gilgeous Alexander (15), Josh Giddey (11), Kenrich Williams (11)
The Wizards topped the Thunder 101-99 on Friday night in the first game of a road back-to-back. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Bradley Beal each scored 20 points to lead the way for Washington and fend off a late run by Oklahoma City. The Thunder were led by Luguentz Dort’s 21 points and a near triple-double from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
The Wizards’ offense started cold, hitting just two of their first nine field goal attempts as the Thunder jumped out to an early 12-6 lead. After cutting the lead down to two, Washington gave up a 13-5 run to fall behind by 10 with just under four minutes to go in the first quarter. Coming out of a timeout, Washington went on a 9-0 run of their own to cut the lead to one in the final minute of the opening frame. Down by 10 early in the second, the Wizards once again worked their way back. After a put-back lay-up from Daniel Gafford, Raul Neto converted a three-point play on the ensuing possession, pulling the Wizards back within three points. Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma hit threes on back-to-back possessions to tie the game at 54 before Beal scored a transition layup the next time down the court to give Washington its first lead since the 10:40 mark of the first quarter. After a slow start to the game, the Wizards shot 12-18 (.667) from the field and 2-2 (1.000) from three in the second quarter.
The Wizards’ defense, led by Gafford, was relentless in the third quarter, holding the Thunder to 5-21 (.238) from the field, 0-4 (.000) from three and forcing five turnovers. A 10-2 Washington run late in the third put Washington up 76-66 with 2:37 on the clock. The run was fueled by a pair of back-to-back threes from Spencer Dinwiddie. Oklahoma City worked its way back into the game in the fourth, tying it up at 84 with six minutes to go in the game before two threes from Caldwell-Pope put Washington back up six. Beal took over late for Washington, scoring six consecutive points to help fend off a Thunder team that wouldn’t relent. Up 99-97 with less than a minute to go, Kuzma grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed 3-pointer and put it back up to put the Wizards up four. Oklahoma City got one final look at a win on a running, buzzer-beating 3-point attempt from Gilgeous-Alexander, but the shot rimmed out.
THREE THINGS TO KNOW
Gafford records career-high, NBA season-best eight blocks
Daniel Gafford arrived in Oklahoma City with eight multi-block games this season and went on to record his best shot-blocking performance of his career. He finished the night with a career-high eight blocks, four in the first half and four in the second. The Wizards’ big man recorded his seventh block of the night, earning him the highest single-game total in the NBA so far this season, with 5:41 left in the third quarter. He is just the fourth player this season to record at least six blocks in a game, joining Myles Turner, Al Horford and Maxi Kleber and his eight blocks are the most in a game by a Wizards player since JaVale McGee recorded 12 in a game in 2011.
KCP leads with an efficient 20
The Wizards were led by Caldwell-Pope, whose 20 points were one shy of tying his season high and came on 8-13 (.615) from the field and 4-7 (.571) from three. Caldwell-Pope’s production from beyond the arc came at some of the game’s most pivotal moments, leading the Wizards’ runs late in the second and fourth quarters. His two threes in the fourth quarter fueled one of Washington’s most pivotal runs. With the win, Washington is now 6-0 this season in games where Caldwell-Pope hits at least three triples.
Team effort on the boards
The Wizards and Thunder each entered the game ranking top-five in the NBA in rebounding and tied for first in defensive rebounds per game. On Friday night, the Thunder came out on top in the rebounding battle, but a balanced effort on the boards from the Wizards – and a clutch offensive rebound from Kuzma – were enough for the win. For Washington, seven players grabbed at least four rebounds, led by 10 from Kuzma, who recorded his eighth double-double of the season.