Final Score: Wizards 93 - Suns 99
The Wizards made a valiant comeback, but in the end, it simply was not enough. Washington fell to Phoenix tonight, 99-93.
After falling into a 25 point hole in the third quarter, the Wizards went on a 19-4 run at the end of the quarter to cut the lead to ten. The Wizards would get as close as four early in the fourth, before the Suns countered with 8-0 run to make it 91-79, spurred by threes by Gerald Green and Goran Dragic.
Not to be outdone, John Wall would go on an 8-0 run all by himself late, as he cut the Suns lead to just three with 1:30 left to play. The Wizards could not get any closer that that though, as Eric Bledsoe drained a huge three from way beyond the arc to put the Suns up six and the game out of reach.
Wall led the Wizards with 29 points and five assists, and scored 14 in the final quarter alone. Marcin Gortat added 17 points on 8-11 shooting from the floor against his previous team.
Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe were a two-man wrecking crew, as Dragic posted 25 points, seven rebounds, and six assists, while Bledsoe scored 23 points and added six rebounds, seven assists, and three steals.
Wall's second three-pointer tonight marked his 100th of the season, the first time he has hit that mark in his career. He joins Trevor Ariza, Martell Webster, and Bradley Beal as wizards over the century mark. This is the first time in franchise history the team has had four players reach 100 in a season.
The Wizards' homestand continues on Friday against the conference-leading Indiana Pacers. Tip-off is set for 7:00. - Jack Persons
Tonight marks the first game back in the Verizon Center for the Wizards in a week and a half, but home court advantage has not slowed down the Phoenix Suns so far. The Wizards trail 54-44 at the end of the first half.
Marcin Gortat, traded to Washington from Phoenix at the beginning of the season, has led the charge against his former team with 13 points. Bradley Beal added eight points, three rebounds, and four assists. Beal left the game in the first half with a hip pointer though and is questionable to return.
Goran Dragic scored 14 points on 6-9 shooting for the Suns, and Gerald Green posted 12 points off the bench.
The Wizards trailed most of the second quarter before climbing back to a one point deficit with 4:07 left on jumpers by Gortat and John Wall, but a 11-1 run by the Suns pushed the lead back to 12 before Gortat threw down a transition slam to end the half.
Wiz turnovers played a large part in the 10 point halftime deficit, and the team must take care of the ball to make a run and get back in this game. Defense will be important as well, as the Suns shot 55 percent in the first half, while going eight for 14 from beyond the arc.
Washington is shooting well enough to win tonight, they just have to handle the ball and buckle down on defense for the last 24. - Jack Persons
We just heard from Randy Wittman who continued to echo what we heard yesterday about getting back to defensive principals and limiting turnovers, the two biggest issues that the team dealt with out west.
There has been a lot of talk about slowing down Eric Bledsoe, who has scored at least 20 points in the last three games. He missed the last #WizSuns game in Phoenix back in January, but he's back now and playing better than ever. He and John Wall were teammates on the 2009-10 Kentucky team and know each other very well. They could spend time guarding one another tonight depending on how the Wiz choose to match up their guards, which should be fun to watch.
More from Randy Wittman pregame:
Catch the American Express Home Court Advantage
pregame show on Monumental Network at 630!
It's been a little while, but we're back at home and ready for this stretch run. 12 games are all that's left for the 2013-14 season with eight of those 12 coming here at Verizon Center.
While it's easy to look ahead and start thinking about playoff matchups, first the Wizards need to clinch a spot and to do that they need to take it one game at a time.
That starts tonight with the streaking Phoenix Suns, who before the season nobody would have guessed would be in the position they are currently in. They were thought to be a team rebuilding and a sure thing for the lottery, but at 42-29, they are 0.5 game out of the 8 seed in the Western Conference and have proved everyone wrong by being one of the more dangerous offensive teams in the league.
The last time we saw them, they only had one of their two star point guards, as Eric Bledsoe was still out with an injury. Tonight, he'll be back in the lineup and alongside Goran Dragic form one of the more unique and elite backcourts in the NBA today. Both of them can handle the ball along with playing off the ball and as John Wall said they will take turns playing pick and roll with their bigs. They love to get up and down the court and score quickly, something that first-year head coach Jeff Hornacek has emphasized from the beginning of the season.
The Wizards are well aware what to expect tonight and talked about the challenges they'll face when taking on the Suns tonight:
Marcin Gortat was on this Suns team in training camp so he knows first hand what to expect and talked about why he thinks they have been so successful this year.
They have certainly exceeded all expectations and are entering tonight's game having won four in a row and six of their last seven, including the last two on the road. They are clicking on all cylinders and it will take the Wizards top defensive effort to come away with a win tonight. The message from the Wizards' road trip was that the defense had taken a step back, as they averaged giving up 111 points per game out west. They know they don't want to get into shootouts every night and don't want to try and outscore a team like Phoenix tonight, so it will be all about team defense.
Garrett Temple spoke with Casey Phillips this morning about the guard-oriented matchup:
We'll be chatting from Verizon Center at 7pm tonight.
Be sure to check out the new pregame show at 6:30 on Monumental Network
as Jumoke Davis and Casey Phillips get you ready for tonight's game!