The Washington Wizards (3-15) got off to a downright ugly start Tuesday night against the New Orleans Hornets (5-15) in the Big Easy, but solid efforts by Jordan Crawford and Nene allowed the last-place team to rally back in time to write a 77-70 win in the books.
Tuesday’s contest marked the Wizards’ first road win of the season and, with A.J. Price and John Wall out, the victory represents a minor breakthrough in an otherwise dismal season thus far.
In the first quarter, Washington managed just 11 points – a season low for any quarter – and gave up twice as many to a team riding a three-game losing streak, which included back-to-back losses at home.
Trailing 16-9, Kevin Seraphin sunk a two point shot to bring the Wizards within five points, but on his next opportunity his hook shot missed the rim completely. Then, Darius Miller and Anthony Davis managed back-to-back blocks against Cartier Martin and Seraphin respectively, allowing the Wizards to lose the ball on their last five possessions in the quarter. The game marked Davis’s return to the Hornets after missing 11 games due to an ankle injury.
Things were slow to improve for the Wizards who trailed by no fewer than seven points until the final 10 seconds of the half. They even put forth their fair share of air balls – including one that Jan Vesely managed to lob on a free throw attempt.
Luckily enough for Washington, Bradley Beal came up big with a steal off Darius Miller, and drove coast-to-coast for a layup and-1 to trim the Hornets’ lead to 42-36.
The visit to the locker room seemed to pay off for Washington as the Wizards’ defense came to life in the third quarter. Nene, in particular, worked hard inside, stripping the Hornets of several opportunities to add padding to their lead.
Trailing 51-41, Beal sunk a 19-foot jumper and Martin blocked Al-Farouq Aminu in time to open up Chris Singleton for the layup to make it 51-45 Hornets. Singleton added a layup and Beal tacked on a jumper and-1 to make it 55-48 Hornets. Free throws by Nene and a jumper by Kevin Seraphin brought the Wizards back within three points with just over two minutes left in the quarter.
Crawford – who closed out the night with 26 points, six rebounds and four assists – did an excellent job working around the screen, but missed the net on a 25-footer. Nene stepped in, however, in time for the put-back before slamming one in to tie the game 56-56.
It was Crawford’s final efforts in the fourth quarter that sealed the deal for Washington. He tallied 12 points in the 12-minute span – one more point than the entire team managed in the first quarter. With his 18-foot jumper and back-to-back free throws, Crawford brought the Wizards to the final score of 77-70.
In addition to Crawford, Nene put forth a solid performance on the night and posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Beal tacked on another 15 points and seven rebounds for the Wizards, who will travel to Houston to take on the Rockets tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. ET.