Final Score: Wizards 101 Suns 95
And back to .500 we go. Bradley Beal hit a couple of big shots down the stretch as the Wizards won the first game of their west coast trip, 101-95 over the Suns. Beal hits the Wizards' last three field goals, playing the role of closer for Washington. Wittman elected to hold Beal out for a large portion of the fourth quarter as he was approaching his minutes limit, so that he could get him back in down the stretch. It paid off handsomely for Wittman and the Wizards. The Wizards trailed by six at the half but as has become the new trend, the third quarter was a dominant one for the Wizards as they outscored the Suns by 12 and took a six point lead into the fourth. The fourth quarter was close the whole way but the suns would never take the lead away as the Wizards closed them out.
The Wizards inconsistent ways continued, as after losing to a struggling Celtics team at home, they beat a Suns team on the road that was coming off a win over the Pacers. The Wizards won this one in Phoenix on the boards, as they outrebounded the Suns 44-30, including grabbing an incredible 19 on the offensive end. Those boards go the Wizards 15 more field goals attempts than the Suns. The Suns were actually better from the field than Washington, shooting 47.9% compared to the Wizards' 45.3%, but it wasn't enough. Trevor Ariza led all scorers with 23 points, and he added seven boards and four steals. John Wall had another double-double, scoring 18 points and dishing out 12 assists. All five of the Wizards' starters finished in double figures, scoring 90 of their 101 points. For the Suns, Dragic continued his phenomenal campaign with 19 points and 11 assists.
The Wizards now get another chance to go over .500 on Saturday night against the Jazz in Utah. - Jacob Raim
We've got about an hour to go until #WizSuns tips off here at U.S. Airways Center in downtown Phoenix, AZ.
Randy Wittman indicated in his pregame media availability that Martell Webster will be a gametime decision as he fell under the weather today and missed morning shootaround.
Wittman also spoke about what it will take defensively to slow down the up-tempo Phoenix Suns. He talked about the importance of communicating on defense, which is important on any night, but especially tonight.
The players know the gameplan, now the question will be can they execute and win their eighth road game in their last ten chances.
The action tips off at 9pm ET and we'll be
from the U.S. Airways Center.
Just returned from shootaround out here in Phoenix, where no jackets were needed as it's a balmy 68 degrees outside.
As nice as the weather is outside, we do still have business to take care of inside and it starts tonight with the Suns at U.S. Airways Center (9pm | TV: CSN+ | Radio: 1500 AM).
As mentioned in today's
, the Suns love to run. They run more than any other team in the NBA and it's led them to the 7th highest scoring offense in the NBA. They lead the league in fast-break points and are second in three-point attempts, so look for an up-tempo style game tonight.
The Suns will be without their second leading scorer Eric Bledsoe, as he is rehabbing from knee surgery. Bledsoe, a former teammate of John Wall at Kentucky, is having himself a career season in his first true opportunity to be a starter. Even without Bledsoe, this Suns team blew out the Eastern Conference leading Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night, scoring a season-high 124 points. That was also the most points allowed in a game by Indiana all season (the top ranked defensive team).
Not many people, if any, would have predicted the Suns to be in the position they are in. Many thought they were a team ready to rebuild and try and land a top spot in this year's highly touted NBA Draft. But, they play extremely hard every night, have bought into first-year head coach Jeff Hornacek's system, and have seen multiple players grow into solid NBA players.
For the Wizards, this is the first of a four-game west coast trip. This is also a homecoming of sorts for center Marcin Gortat, who played his last 2.5 seasons here in Phoenix before being traded to the Wizards for Emeka Okafor just before the season started.
Casey Phillips talked with Marcin at shootaround this morning about coming back:
The Wizards have won seven of their last nine on the road and in truth, have played their best basketball away from home. After winning the first two games of the most recent homestand against the Heat and Bulls, they lost two of their next three to the Pistons and Celtics, both winnable games. But, there's no time to dwell on the past as they've got to take care of business out west and it starts tonight in Phoenix.
I'll be live chatting from U.S. Airways Center tonight at 9pm ET with my partner in crime Jacob Raim. We'll see you in there! Remember it's #WizSuns on social tonight!
And be sure to follow WashWizards on Snapchat for a behind-the-scenes look at the west coast trip.