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The Wizards hold off the Hornets to close out the family stand with success

The Wizards hold off the Hornets to close out the family stand with success

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Six games in 11 days meant heavy legs and a longer injury report, but the sacrifice was worth it for the Washington Wizards. They beat the Charlotte Hornets, 106-102on Sunday night at Capital One Arena to close out their longest homestand of the season with an impressive 5-1 record.

The Wizards, who have won six of seven overall, improved to 10-7 on the season.

“We’re still trying to find ourselves as a team,” said Kyle Kuzma, who had 28 points and 10 rebounds. “… But as long as you can take care of the house and win at home, that’s extremely important because it’s very difficult to win on the road.”

Sunday’s matchup with the Hornets (4-14) was close but anticlimactic in comparison Friday’s one-point, overtime win over the Miami Heat — even after Bradley Beal walked to the locker room with 15.8 seconds to play after kneeing his quad. Coach Wes Unseld Jr. didn’t have an update on his star guard after the game.

Washington was more in control throughout, perhaps because the problems that kept the game close didn’t come from a bewildered zone defense or unknown players on the opposing team, but from the Wizards’ home.

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Starting point guard Monte Morris and backup forward Rui Hachimura were sidelined with ankle soreness, absences that moved point guard Corey Kispert into the starting lineup and left Washington’s bench without Hachimura’s reliable scoring. The result was even more lethargy among an already flat second unit.

Center Taj Gibson was called upon again to change the group’s energy as second-string senior Daniel Gafford sat the entire second half.

“I think it has been hard; I think the physique has reached him a little. I think Taj has done a good job of being more aggressive. He presses the ball, he does some things like that naturally,” Unseld said. “… I think Taj just has a little more experience in those settings that helps him.”

Kuzma said, “He doesn’t really make too many mistakes.”

The margin for error was slim, and Washington made enough plays in the second half to stay ahead. Eleven first-half turnovers were cut to six, and the Wizards held the Hornets to 33.3 percent shooting.

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Offensively, the Wizards did enough to make up for the biggest problem of the night of their own making: Kristaps Porzingis’ misplaced play. The Latvian finished with 12 points but made just 4 of 19 attempts from the field.

“He’s going to have those nights. Hopefully they’ll be far and few between, but he’s shot the ball at such an exceptional level, it’s almost like he’s going to have to play one of those nights,” Unseld said. “… We defended well enough. This has to be where we hang our hat: can we defend enough? We have to make some plays, sure, but can we defend enough to give our offense a chance?

The Wizards did it. Beal had 26 points, five assists and five steals after starting at point guard, and Deni Avdija had a season-high 12 points and 13 rebounds.

Against his former team, Kelly Oubre Jr. led Charlotte with 23 points.

Here’s what you need to know about the Wizards’ win:

Washington had a season-high 13 blocks and held the Hornets to 50 points in the paint, down from 70 the last time the teams met on Nov. 7. a 108-100 Wizards win on the road.

Unseld said Hachimura tweaked his right ankle in the fourth quarter of Friday’s win and is day-to-day. Morris has been dealing with a nagging ankle problem, the coach added.

Delon Wright, who has been out with a hamstring strain since late October, is scheduled to be reevaluated Monday. Unseld said a scheduling issue pushed the reassessment back a day.

For point guard help with Morris and Wright injured, Washington called up Capital City Go-Go guard Devon Dotson and signed him to a two-way contract.

Dotson has averaged 12.1 points and 7.3 assists in seven games with the Wizards’ G League affiliate. On November 15, he recorded the third triple-double in the team’s four-year history with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

“He’s a guy who’s played minutes in the NBA, I think 22 games in the NBA,” Unseld said of Dotson, who did not play Sunday. “… [He] it gives you another perimeter player, another backup point guard who can facilitate the attack. He will guard at a high rate.”

Washington waived forward Jordan Schakel, who played in six games after signing a two-way contract in March.

Porzingis received a technical foul after a fight in the first quarter. The Hornets’ Jalen McDaniels was guarding Porzingis when the center extended his arm to pull McDaniels toward him, perhaps trying to draw him into a foul, and McDaniels ended up throwing the big man into the Wizards’ bench.

Charlotte players ran and Unseld stepped to the side to separate the two before he could step up. The officials called a personal foul on McDaniels.



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