The Washington Wizards came into Phoenix tonight still smarting over a bad loss in Charlotte two nights ago to get this road swing off to a rough start. However, the Wiz shrugged off an illness to starting center Emeka Okafor that kept him in a suit and tie the whole game and defeated the Suns 88-79. The victory is only Washington's sixth away from the Verizon Center this season and improves the team record to 24-43. It is the first time since 2001-02 the Wizards have swept the Phoenix Suns. The Wizards had not win in Phoenix since 2006 when Gilbert Arenas scored 54 points to lead his team to victory.
Jason Collins, little-used since acquired earlier this season in a
salary dump trade that sent guard Jordan Crawford to the Boston Celtics, started at center in place of Okafor. Collins played 17 minutes and, as is his habit, picked up far more fouls  than points [zero].
The Wizards trailed by one point, 26-25, after a hard-fought first quarter, but jumped all over the Suns in the second, thanks to strong play from the bench. Big man Kevin Seraphin led the reserves tonight, scoring 16 points on 8-11 shooting, grabbing five rebounds and blocking two shots. Fellow backup forward Trevor Ariza scored 14 points on 5-10 shooting [3-7 on 3-pointers] and pulled down 6 boards. The Wizards outscored Phoenix 34-19 in the second quarter to take a 59-45 lead into halftime. It appeared as Washington was going to have yet another hot-shooting night.
However, the Wiz went cold in the third quarter, repeatedly feeding the ball down low to Nene, who failed to turn scoring opportunities into points by repeatedly missing make-able shots or simply turning the ball over. [Nene finished with 17 points on 4-10 shooting, 9-12 FT, 8 rebounds and 5 turnovers.] The Suns got hot [ouch], starting making some shots and whittled the lead down to single digits, 73-64, by the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter featured more bad shooting by both teams, but this time the Suns were, if anything, worse than the Wizards. Both teams scored a measly 14 points in the final quarter -- giving Washington 29 points in the entire second half, less than they scored in the second quarter alone. However, John Wall [game-high 19 points, team-high 8 assists, 5 turnovers] hit some big shots down the stretch, including a leaning fade by the near corner of the court, to preserve a fragile Wizards lead that shrunk to four points at one time.
Martell Webster scored 13 points on 5-9 shooting [3-5 on 3-pointers] and Trevor Booker had an active game off the bench, scoring only 3 points, but grabbing 7 rebounds in 16 minutes and repeatedly keeping precious possessions alive in the fourth quarter by tapping loose ball offensive rebounds out to teammates.
The game really would not have been close, but for 21 Wizards turnovers which the Suns turned into 25 points. Wall, Nene, Seraphin and rookie Bradley Beal, who came off the bench again, were all far too careless with the basketball. The Wizards got some bad news when Beal feel hard [yes, again] in the first half of the fourth quarter, turned his already-injured ankle and spent the next few moments writhing in obvious pain under the basket. He left the court under his own power and did not return. It is not clear how serious the injury might be.
Despite the turnovers and sloppy play, the Wiz were able to get the rare road win with some timely shooting by Wall and the bench and holding the Suns to 33.7% shooting from the field. Washington shot over 48%, just enough to win by 9 points.no comments