On a night with a few of the University of Kentucky’s biggest NBA stars, John Wall stole the show early and made sure his team got the win. Washington got another great game from Mike Scott, 24 points on 11-of-15 shooting in 23 minutes. The Wizards went up by as much as 25 in the first half, lost the lead and built another 20 point lead in the second half to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 116-106. Wall finished with 18 points, 10 assists, and 6 rebounds. His partner in crime Bradley Beal, started slow but heated up late to finish with 26.
The Pelicans tag team down low of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins did what they normally do. Caused havoc and led the way for their team with 37 and 26 points respectively, they’d combine for 22 rebounds as well. They just didn’t get enough help and as a team, they turned the ball over far too much and it cost them. Washington’s Marcin Gortat had a quietly good game, finishing with 10 points and 14 rebounds. That allowed Washington to tip the scales in their favor on the glass, 44 to 42.
The Wizards had the type of quarter fans could only dream of, they bested the Pelicans in nearly every facet of the game. Wall’s full game was on display, he was defending, setting up teammates and more importantly he was the aggressor on the offensive end. He scored 14 points, dished out 6 assists and grabbed 3 rebounds in the period. Leading Washington do a 36-19 lead after one, the highlight of the period may have been a no-look lob thrown to Gortat who finished the play with a dunk. The Wizards seemed to be in tune defensively, holding the visiting Pelicans to 33% shooting from both the floor and the three point line.
The second quarter started similarly for Washington, Scott came in and continued to do what he’s done over the past few games. He scored 12 points in the period, playing a big role in the second unit pushing the lead to 25 at one point. Capital One Arena was rocking and Washington looked like the team most imagined them to be during that stretch.
All of those things would be short lived though. With 6:36 left in the half, New Orleans Head Coach Alvin Gentry would be issued a technical. Beal hit the free throw to give Washington a 56-33 lead. Scott would hit a jump shot a possession later to push the lead to 25. The the Pelicans made a monstrous run, they started to get stops. After settling for jumpers and simply good defense being played by Washington to that point, Anthony Davis led the way by attacking Washington off the bounce. Cousins joined in as well, the Pelicans would take 22 trips to the foul line. They made the most of it, knocking down 19 free throws. Meanwhile, they tightened up on defense and Washington’s once free flowing offense was halted for the remaining 4:51 seconds of the first half. The one reprieve being when Wall was fouled with 5.4 seconds left, but he split the pair of free throws.
Davis scored 16 points in the second period, giving him 22 points in the half. Wall and Scott led the way for Washington at the break, with 15 and 14 points respectively. The Wizards had taken just five free throws to New Orlean’s 24, one team aggressively attacked the rim and the other did not.
The third period started with a quick 6-0 run by the Pelicans to tie the game at 61. Washington responded with a 7-0 run, in that stretch Beal who had been struggling most of the night with his shot, started to get going. They’d trade baskets, but Washington held a 73-66 lead with 7:11 to go in the quarter. Then it happened again, the Mike Scott effect.
When Mike Scott entered, it was 73-66.
He exits the floor with the score 93-70, a +20 in six minutes.#WizPelicans
— Zach Rosen (@ZacharySRosen) December 20, 2017
Once he came in, Washington would go on a 12-0 run. Beal had a scare though, with 4:08 left he went down and the building went nearly silent. He would get up and return to the game literally a possession later. Washington only surrendered four more points, while scoring 10 more in the process. Beal hit a couple of three pointers with less than a minutes left n he half push the lead to 20. The Wizards found there was on the defensive end as the Pelicans scored just 15 points, similar to the job they did in the first quarter. Davis was feeling it by that point, but it felt like him and Cousins versus the Wizards and that’s not a fair fight.
Washington maintained a 20 point lead for most of the fourth quarter, Scott Brooks kept his starters in a bit longer than usual to ensure that this lead wouldn’t be given up. The Pelicans pulled their starters withe 3:54 left, Washington would do so with 1:43 left on the clock.
The Wizards move to 17-14, they have a few days off before traveling to Brooklyn to play the Nets on Friday. They’ll return home to host the Orlando Magic on Saturday before their big Christmas Day matchup with the Celtics.