Wizards hold off Hornets to complete a successful homestand


Six games in 11 days made for heavy legs and a lengthy injury record, but the sacrifice paid off for the Washington Wizards. They beat the Charlotte Hornets 106-102at the Capital One Arena on Sunday night to wrap up their longest home game of the season with an impressive 5-1 record.

The Wizards, who have won six out of seven overall, improved to 10-7 during the season.

“We’re still trying to find each other as a team,” said Kyle Kuzma, who had 28 points and 10 rebounds. “…But whenever you can take care of homestands and win at home, that’s extremely important because it’s extremely difficult to win on the street.”

Sunday’s fight with the Hornets (4-14) was close but disappointing by comparison One-point win in Friday’s overtime against the Miami Heat – even after Bradley Beal went into the dressing room to play at 15.8 seconds after kneeling on the quadriceps. Coach Wes Unseld Jr. did not have an update on his Star Guard after the game.

Washington had more control all along, perhaps because the issues keeping the game tight didn’t come from a shaky zone defense or unknown players on the opposing team, but from the House of Wizards.

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Starting point guard Monte Morris and backup forward Rui Hachimura were both sidelined with ankle pain, which moved guard Corey Kispert to the starting lineup and left Washington’s bench without Hachimura’s reliable strike. The result was even more lethargy on an already flat second device.

Center Taj Gibson was again called upon to change the energy of the group as second row big man Daniel Gafford sat the entire second half.

“I think it was tough; The physicality, I think, got him a bit. I think Taj did a good job being more aggressive. He puts pressure on the ball, does a lot of things naturally,” said Unseld. “…I think Taj just has a little bit more experience in those scenarios that helps him.”

Said Kuzma, “He really doesn’t make too many mistakes.”

The margin for error was slim, and Washington made just enough plays in the second half to stay ahead. Eleven first-half turnovers dwindled to six, and the Wizards kept the Hornets at 33.3 shooting percent.

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The Wizards did just enough offensively to offset the night’s biggest self-created problem: an off-game by Kristaps Porzingis. The Latvian ended up with 12 points, but only made 4 out of 19 attempts from the field.

“He’ll have those nights. Hopefully they’re far and wide, but he shot the ball at such an exceptional level that it’s almost like he’s due for one of those nights,” Unseld said. “…We defended well enough. We have to hang up our hats – can we defend ourselves enough? Of course we have to make some moves, but can we defend enough to give our offense a chance?”

The wizards did. Beal had 26 points, five assists and five steals after starting as a point guard, and Deni Avdija added 12 points and a season-high 13 rebounds.

Against his old team, Kelly Oubre Jr. led Charlotte by 23 points.

Here’s what else you should know about the Wizards win:

Washington had a season-high 13 blocks and held the Hornets to 50 points in the paint — down from 70 when the teams last met on Nov. 7. a 108-100 Wizards road win.

Unseld said Hachimura pinched his right ankle in the fourth quarter of Friday’s win and is at it day by day. Morris has been dealing with an ongoing ankle problem, the manager added.

Delon Wright, who has been out since late October with a thigh strain, is due to be re-examined on Monday. Unseld said a scheduling issue delayed the reassessment by a day.

For help at the point guard with Morris and Wright’s injuries, Washington called Capital City go-go guard Devon Dotson and signed him to a two-way deal.

Dotson has averaged 12.1 points and 7.3 assists in seven games with the Wizards’ G League affiliate. On November 15, he recorded the third triple-double in the team’s four-year history with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

“He’s a guy who’s played NBA minutes — I think 22 games in the NBA,” Unseld said of Dotson, who didn’t play on Sunday. “… [He] gives you another perimeter player, another backup point guard who can ease the offense. He will keep watch at a high rate.”

Washington waived forward Jordan Schakel, who appeared in six games, after signing a two-way contract in March.

Porzingis was penalized with a technical foul after a scuffle in the first quarter. The Hornets’ Jalen McDaniels was guarding Porzingis as the center pulled on his arm to pull McDaniels toward him, perhaps trying to lure him into a foul, and McDaniels ended up shoving the big man into the Wizards’ bench.

Charlotte players spilled and Unseld stepped aside to separate the two before things could escalate. Officials called McDaniels a personal foul.

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