One night after one of the best games of the season by the Wizards in a win over the Sixers, they found the same energy and blasted the Suns out of Capital One Arena, 127-102.
One big difference in this game is the emergence of Rui Hachimura. Not only does Rui finally look like the Rui the Wizards had on the court prior to him leaving for personal reasons earlier in the season, but he seems to have a renewed look to him… way more aggressive than he has ever been. More assertive under the basket and confident in his shot. Just what the Wizards needs with the absence of Bradley Beal.
“I think right away his level of aggression, you could tell,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said about Hachimura, who finished 11 of 13 from the floor. “He was not only playing downhill, but he was taking the right types of shots. He played with a sense of urgency.”
Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma each had 22 points for Washington as three-time Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal sat out with hamstring soreness. The Wizards shot 57.3% from the floor, outscored the Suns 60-28 in the paint and outrebounded them 46-30.
“Look, they beat us,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “They attacked us. Close-outs tonight weren’t great. And in that third quarter and beginning of the fourth, it was just one close-out after another, and they were getting to the rim. So that probably hurt us more than anything.”
The Suns, like the Sixers did last night, made a game of it at one point in the third quarter, but the technical fouls along with quite a few misses late deep in the fourth quarter wore out Williams and his guys before he emptied his bench with a little over minute remaining.
For the Wizards, this was the second game that they have showed signs of increased defense and the ability to get the stops that were just not there during that 10-game losing streak.
“We used the word urgency last week and the guys seemed to understand what that really meant. You could see that on the court and having guys back in the line-up like Delon Wright change the look that we can give teams, said Unseld Jr.
The frustration of the Suns could be felt late in the fourth quarter with some chipping from two fans courtside heckling Chris Paul. In the final two minutes with the Wizards up by 25, the words between the Suns bench and the two fans which to both being ejected and a small little scuffle between the two and some team officials.
Phoenix led only once on the opening basket while falling to 1-2 on a six-game road trip. The Suns also are missing the injured Devin Booker, Cam Johnson, Cam Payne and Landry Shamet.