WASHINGTON — There must be something that makes the Washington Wizards turn into defensive wizards when they play the Brooklyn Nets, and the former stepped up defending their goal at the perfect time to snap their losing skid.
Deni Avdija had a double-double with 21 points and 13 rebounds while Kyle Kuzma led all scorers with 26 as the Wizards defeated the Nets 110-104 inside Capital One Arena on Friday night. Point guard Tyus Jones chipped in with 12 points and six assists.
The Wizards came into tonight ranked last in the NBA in defensive rating, but closed tonight’s game out of the defensive end, holding the Nets to just one field goal make in the game’s final seven minutes and held Brooklyn to 18 points in the quarter. The 104 points allowed was the second-fewest allowed by the Wizards this season, who gave up just 102 points in the team’s first meeting this season, an eight-point victory by the Nets in Brooklyn on November 12.
Mike Muscala hit a three-pointer to start the fourth quarter to give Washington an 87-86 lead, continuing the strong play of the Wizards bench that Washington head coach Wes Unseld Jr. relied on in the game’s final 12 minutes to seal the victory. Muscala, who had 11 points, and Landry Shamet, who scored eight, played all 12 minutes in the fourth quarter while regular starters Jordan Poole and Daniel Gafford sat the entire period. Corey Kispert scored 10 of his 15 points from off the bench in the second half, with seven coming in the third.
Mikal Bridges led the Nets with 19 points, while Nic Claxton had 11 points and 12 rebounds. Brooklyn has lost seven of its last nine games, with the two wins in that stretch coming in back-to-back games earlier this week against the Detroit Pistons, who recently tied the NBA record by losing their 28th consecutive game on Thursday.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Friday evening’s event, with all photos taken by DC-area photographer Clifford Ray Williams. 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.