The Washington Wizards (7-29) may have appeared an unstoppable force earlier this week in the Nation’s Capital, but the Sacramento Kings (15-24) were not fooled as they held on to beat the NBA’s last-place team by the score of 95-94 at Sleep Train Arena.
Every good streak – even those that span just three games – must come to an end. And, while John Wall has undoubtedly provided the Wizards with a potent weapon they had previously lacked all season, the Wizards were reminded that his mere presence on the court cannot change their course overnight.
Wednesday night’s matchup had the look and feel of so many contests from earlier this season. The game itself clipped along at a steady pace – thanks, in part, to a lack of defensive effort put forth by either team. It was not Wall, but rather, Bradley Beal who led the squad with 26 points, 18 of which were made from three-point territory. He also posted six assists and three rebounds on the night.
Other characters, however, returned to old form – including Jan Vesely, who emerged an unlikely hero Monday night against the Magic only to fall hard on old habits as he failed to score a single point in 10 minutes of play in Sacramento.
When all was said and done, it became clear that the most difficult habit the Wizards have yet to break this season is their inability to win on the road. With the loss, Washington has fallen to 1-16 in away games this season.
The Wizards and Kings were neck-and-neck throughout the first quarter. With under three minutes remaining in the quarter, Kevin Seraphin sank three jumpers in a row for Washington – but the Kings answered each time. By the end of the quarter, Sacramento had a less-than-commanding 32-31 lead.
In the second quarter, however, the Wizards outscored the Kings 25-16, as defense began to play a more prominent role in shaping the game.
With the Wizards trailing 44-43 with just under five minutes remaining in the half, Beal revealed how solid his stroke can be by effortlessly sinking a 25-foot three-pointer.
Just over a minute later, he sank another three to put the Wizards out in front 49-44.
He added another one with little more than a minute remaining in the quarter to help the Wizards to a 56-48 lead at the half.
A.J. Price opened up the second half with a jumper to give the Wizards a double-digit lead yet again. Then, Jimmer Fredette made the first of his five baskets for a total of 12 points on the night.
DeMarcus Cousins – who closed out the night with a double-double for 21 points and 16 rebounds – sank both of his free throws before Chuck Hayes made a layup to trim the Wizards’ lead to just 77-72.
The Beal-Wall duo, which has produced some highlight-worthy plays over the past few days, expanded the Wizards’ lead to 80-72 before Fredette and Cousins had something to say about it.
With 8:03 remaining, the Wizards led by a measly two points before Beal sank two free throws to provide some insurance.
However, Cousins and John Salmons went back-to-back to tie the game at 84 points apiece, before Seraphin dropped the hammer with just over five minutes left to play.
Later, Nene stepped in with a jumper and a three-point play to give the Wizards a 91-86 lead. But, that was not enough to hold off Cousins, who answered with the same two plays to even the score.
Martell Webster then sunk a three – which Salmons repeated for the Kings – and, with 30 seconds remaining, Wall missed two must-have go-ahead free throws.
With 11 seconds left, Tyreke Evans drew a foul off Nene and made sure not to repeat the error of Wall’s ways. His free throw was enough to clinch the 95-94 win for the Kings, despite the fact that both Beal and Wall had quick opportunities to put the Wizards on top from less than 10 feet away.
The Wizards will continue their search for their second road victory this season in Denver on Friday at 9:00 pm ET.