On the Road to Rui (Suns at Wizards; 12.28.22)

Rodney Pierce/ALOST

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

WASHINGTON — Two games in a span of two days against two legitimate championship hopefuls would have given the Washington Wizards, winners in only two games in the month of December going into Christmas, next to no hope in possibly turning their season around. Instead, the Wizards were too good and too resilient over these 48 hours, and it is possible that rumors of a possible demise for this season were, indeed, too soon.

Rui Hachimura came off the bench to pace the Wizards with 30 points as Washington led by double digits for most of the game in defeating the Phoenix Suns 127-102 inside Capital One Arena on Wednesday evening. Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma each scored 22 points for the Wizards, who have now won four of their last five games on the heels of a 10-game losing streak.

Playing without Bradley Beal, out with hamstring soreness after suffering the injury in yesterday’s win over the Philadelphia 76ers, the Wizards raised their level throughout the team, shooting a scorching 57 percent from the field (47-for-82) while outrebounding Phoenix 46-30. The dominance inside also was reflected in the 60 paint points scored by Washington, compared to 26 for the Suns.

A number of those points inside came from Hachimura, who scored 14 of his points in the fourth quarter to keep the Suns from mounting a serious threat to Washington’s lead, which remained double digits for the entirety of the final stanza.

“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.”

DeAndre Ayton scored 31 points to lead the depleted Suns, who announced that All-Star guard Devin Booker would miss at least four weeks after suffering a hamstring injury on Christmas Day in Denver. Phoenix was also missing the likes of Cam Johnson, Landry Shamet and Cameron Payne due to various injuries.

Chris Paul scored 20 points while Mikal Bridges added 17 for Phoenix, who are now 1-2 on its six-game road trip.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Wednesday evening’s game, with all photos taken by DC-area photographer Rodney Pierce. 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 30 pictures in total.

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Tags : NBAPhoenix SunsRui HachimuraWashington Wizards

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