WASHINGTON — The worst thing that transpired on the court for the Washington Wizards on Saturday night, in a game they once trailed by 36 points, did not take place at any point during the game. Once the Phoenix Suns came into the nation’s capital after a rare defeat this season, immediate redemption for that off-night was all but assured, and the Wizards became the unwitting sitting ducks on the Suns’ way to starting another winning streak.
DeAndre Ayton had 20 points and 16 rebounds to spark Phoenix to an easy 95-80 victory over the Wizards at Capital One Arena. Chris Paul had 14 points and nine assists for the Western Conference-leading Suns, who saw their 11-game winning streak snapped on Thursday in Atlanta.
Phoenix’s leading scorer Devin Booker only scored 11 points, but his normal offensive output was not necessary for Phoenix to take over the game, as its defense held Washington to just 32 first-half points and 30 percent shooting from the field on its way to a 59-32 halftime lead.
“We were locked in, especially in the second quarter, when we really started closing in our defense,” said Ayton, playing in his third game after missing time with a sprained ankle. “We were counting [our defensive stops]. It was fun out there.”
Nothing was fun for the Wizards in that second quarter, as they shot 18 percent (4-of-22) from the field and missed all nine of their three-point attempts. Leading scorer Bradley Beal once again sat out with a left wrist injury, and no starter scored more than 11 points in the contest.
“I think at times when things get tough, we give in a little bit,” Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “You get away from some of the things and start short-cutting routes, you don’t own your spots, and that really stagnates your offense.”
Montrezl Harrell led the Wizards with 15 points off the bench, with Aaron Holiday, starting in the place of Beal in the back court, the only other Washington player to score in double figures with 11 points.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Saturday evening’s game, with all photos taken by DC-area photographers Clifford Ray Williams and Yusuf Abdullah. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 17 pictures in total.