Well the Wizards might not wanted this one to have gotten as close as it did, but they'll assuredly take the win over the Pelicans, 102-96. The Wizards were up by 21 entering the fourth quarter but the Pelicans used a 21-6 run to cut it to six with three minutes to play. Trevor Ariza though answered with a massive three and the Pelicans would never get closer than that. Ariza bounced back from a couple of poor performances in the new year to have a big double-double, scoring 21 points on 9/17 shooting and grabbing 10 boards. Speaking of boards, the Wizards controlled Anthony Davis and the boards all night, outrebounding the Pelicans 46-37. Three point shooting was the other story of the night, as the Wizards were 10/21 from beyond the arc compared to 4/13 for New Orleans, who are clearly missing Ryan Anderson.
The second quarter in this one was one of the Wizards best of the season, starting it on a 19-6 run and outscoring the Pelicans 33-16 to go into the half up 17. The Wizards were 14/23 in the quarter with ten of those buckets coming in the paint as the Wizards, particularly Jan Vesely, did a great job attacking the basket. Vesely had a season high 12 points in the contest with eight of them coming in the second quarter. Vesely also had seven boards, five of them coming on the offensive end. John Wall had 20 points and six assists, Bradley Beal had 17 points and Gortat had another double-double with 11 points and 14 boards. The Wizards have now won six of seven on the road, with Indiana looming on Friday. - Jacob Raim
We made it to New Orleans. Where it's a balmy 45 degrees outside and feels about 75 after leaving single digits in Charlotte.
The weather may be been cold, but the Wizards were not as their hot road play continued last night with a win over the Bobcats. They've now won five of their last six on the road and hold an 8-9 road record this season. After going 7-34 away from home last year, they've made enormous strides in 2013-14 and have "learned how to win on the road," as Randy Wittman said during his pregame availability.
Tonight, they get a Pelicans team that has not lost in New Orleans since December 6th. They've won four in a row at home, but have struggled on the road, losing four of their last five. Like the Bobcats, they enter tonight's game with a similar record as the Wizards (15-17) (Pelicans: 15-18), but unlike the Wiz and the Cats, they play in the NBA's Western Conference and currently sit in 11th place.
They lost one of their key offensive pieces in Ryan Anderson last Friday in Boston and he will be sidelined indefinitely with a herniated disc. With Anderson out, the Pelicans are without their leading scorer and best perimeter shooter. They won't be able to stretch the floor as easily, but this is a team that can score in many ways.
The Pelicans will likely rely on former #1 pick Anthony Davis, who is having an outstanding season here in New Orleans and currently leads the NBA in blocks per game (3.2). He averages a double-double and is an athletic freak, making him a nightmare guard for many big men. The Wiz will likely use a lot of Trevor Booker on Davis tonight and while Booker may be able to keep up with him laterally, he gives up some height to the bigger and longer Davis.
Bradley Beal had his biggest game of the new year last night, scoring a team-high 21 points in the win over Charlotte. He looked to find his rhythm again and was huge for the Wizards in the fourth quarter to help secure the win. He and Eric Gordon will be one of the key matchups to watch, as Gordon is a guy that when healthy can score with the best of them.
An x-factor to watch tonight will be Wizards' backup point guard Garrett Temple, who grew up about an hour from New Orleans and played his college ball at LSU. He'll have a lot of friends and family in the crowd tonight, so hopefully he will give them a lot to cheer about when he checks in off the bench.
The Wiz held the Bobcats to just 83 points last night and will look to continue to play that kind of team defense to keep New Orleans from finding any flow offensively. They beat the Pelicans, 77-70, last season in a low scoring affair here in New Orleans. But tonight, both teams are healthier and this game should see a lot more offense.
The action kicks off at 8pm. We'll be live chatting here.