Nene of the Wizards looks to score against Jason Thompson of the Kings. Washington defeated Sacramento 93-84 at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, February 9, 2014. photo courtesy of John De Freitas
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The (25-25) Washington Wizards defeated the (17-34) Sacramento Kings at Verizon Center, snapping a three-game losing streak to the Kings spanning back to 2011. The Wizards were in the midst of a two-game losing streak after recently improving to one game over .500, for the first time since 2010. Washington Center Nene led the way with 18 points and Bradley Beal scored 16 in the 93-84 win.
Beal and Nene sealed the win for Washington combining for eight points in just under a minute after the Kings had made an 11-5 run in the middle of the fourth quarter. Washington forced 18 Kings’ turnovers for 26 points and held leading scorers DeMarcus Cousins (22.7ppg) and Rudy Gay (19.9ppg) to a combined 19 points.
“We gave a lot of contested and not easy baskets to either one of them,” said Wizards coach Randy Wittman. “Everything that they got, even Rudy's two baskets were tough-contested, as well as DeMarcus.
Guard Isaiah Thomas scored 30 for Sacramento but John Wall’s former University of Kentucky teammate, Cousins was 3-of-16 from the floor and Gay just 2-of-11. Thomas, Cousins and Gay each had four turnovers.
Wall struggled at times with 12 points and five turnovers of his own but unlike Thomas, got help from his teammates. Wall was joined by four other teammates who scored in double figures. Marcin Gortat put in 17 points and had eight rebounds and Kevin Seraphin came in off the bench to score 10 and grab eight rebounds as well.
The Wizards led wire to wire including 57-45 at halftime. Washington went on a run in the third quarter and held a 17-point lead after a Gortat three-point play. Although Sacramento would outscore Washington in the final two quarters, too much damage had already been done. Washington shot at least 50% from the field in the first two quarters on its way to 57 first half points. The 36-point performance in the second half however, is what has kept them fledgling around the .500 mark 50 games into the season.
“So far so good,” said second-year guard Beal. “We know we wish we could have had at least 10 more wins, but at the end of the day, we really cannot complain where we are at. We are in a solid position playoff-wise, but we still have a lot of moves to make.”
Washington’s double-digit lead dwindled to as low as four in the fourth before Beal essentially put the game away hitting back-to-back threes, the second coming out of a timeout to put Washington up 88-77. Washington further halted any chance of a comeback, forcing three consecutive steals in the waning minutes of the fourth. With the win, Washington finishes up a five-game home stand at 3-2 and is fifth in the East (tiebreaker with the 25-25 Chicago Bulls).
“Listen, coaches are never satisfied,” said Wittman. “I don't want them to be satisfied. We're back to .500, we're better than .500. I want them to believe that. We've made some strides. There are some things that I would like for us to tighten up in the last 32 games. If we can do that, we can put ourselves in a great position. A coach is never satisfied.”
Washington has two remaining games, both on the road, before the All-Star break: at Memphis and at Houston.
“The main thing with us is trying to get on a streak,” said Wall. “Finish these last two games before the break and try to get over .500. Then come back with a vengeance and try to get on a streak in those two games right off break; two of the biggest games of the year against Toronto and Atlanta.”
The (27-23) Memphis Grizzlies are limping into the break losing three of its last five including its latest to Cleveland in overtime. Game time is at 8pm at the FedEx Forum.