Wizards top Wolves in Minneapolis, 137-116
The Wizards (3-7) rode a career night from Moritz Wagner and another 40-point performance from Bradley Beal to a 137-116 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves (7-5) Friday night in Minneapolis. Wagner came off the bench to set career highs in points (30), rebounds (15) and 3-point field goals made (4).
Dominant second-half performances from Beal and Wagner were the difference as Washington outscored Minnesota 61-43 in quarters three and four, turning a three-point halftime lead into the team’s most convincing win of the season. Beal scored 26 of his 44 points in the second half while Wagner scored 15 of his 30 in the fourth quarter alone. Beal also dished out 10 assists for his second points-assists double-double of the season.
“Another game of growth – that’s what we want to see,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said. “We played with great spirit, energy and (Wagner) was fantastic. Point guards did a good job getting to the ball and defending and making plays.”
With the win, Washington snapped a three-game losing streak and splits the season series with Minnesota.
The Wizards scored 76 points in the first half, one point shy of tying a season high for points in a half, but again struggled to establish a defensive presence early on. Minnesota scored 73 first half points of their own, including 43 in the second quarter alone. Washington’s early defensive struggles weren’t for lack of effort or physicality as Wagner, who leads the league with 0.89 charges drawn per game, drew a handful of offensive fouls in the first half.
Thomas Bryant, who scored a quick six points in the first four minutes of the game, was active on the boards at both ends of the court but got into early foul trouble against Timberwolves All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns. Troy Brown Jr. recorded a pair of steals in the first quarter, including one that led to a coast-to-coast and-one layup, for his fourth multi-steal game of the season.
“I thought we did a good job on (Towns) being as physical as we can, within the rules, and I thought both bigs did a great job of challenging his space and not giving him free real estate,” Brooks said.
Washington’s defensive efforts paid off in the second half as they allowed just 19 points in the third quarter and jumped out to a 10-point lead. The Wizards held the Timberwolves to 6-21 (.286) from the field and 2-11 (.182) from 3-point range, forcing five turnovers to just two assists. Beal owned the quarter offensively, scoring 16 points on 7-9 (.777) from the field. Wagner scored 11 in a row for Washington as part of his dominant fourth quarter that allowed the Wizards to pull away and secure a victory.
"I got upset at myself because I told Coach [Brooks] I would set the tone defensively,” Beal said. “I feel like in the first half I failed at that and we failed as a team. We gave up 73 points or whatever it was. In the second half, it was totally different. We got out and got stops. I just wanted to be aggressive, try to get a lead and create some space and some distance.”
The Wizards conclude their three-game road trip on Sunday in Orlando, taking on a Magic team coming off a 111-109 win over San Antonio on Friday. Tip is set for 6:00 P.M. ET at Amway Center.