Wizards sink Pelicans for 17th in row at home
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(TSX / STATS) -- WASHINGTON -- John Wall admitted the obvious. The upcoming matchup against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers will be the biggest regular-season game of his career. Seeing as the Washington Wizards rallied past the New Orleans Pelicans to remain the hottest team in the Eastern Conference, the timing couldn't be better.
Wall had 24 points and 13 assists as the Wizards extended their NBA-high home winning streak to 17 games with a 105-91 victory over the Pelicans on Saturday night.
The Wizards (30-20) closed the game with a 15-0 run, holding New Orleans without a point for the final 5:51. All five starters scored in double figures for the Wizards, who used a balanced attack to win their seventh in a row overall and fend off the Pelicans for the second time this week.
Markieff Morris had 18 points and outscored New Orleans by himself 9-8 in the final period.
After Tyreke Evans's basket put the Pelicans up 91-90, Wall fed Morris for a dunk to ignite the final burst. Morris scored seven and Wall added six in the closing stretch. New Orleans shot 3 for 21 from the field and committed six turnovers in the fourth quarter.
"I would like to think it was good defense," Washington coach Scott Brooks said of the final surge. "It was some of us, and they were missing some shots. I thought we picked it up defensively. Anytime you hold an NBA team to eight points, you're doing something good."
Anthony Davis had 25 points and 10 rebounds for the Pelicans (19-32). Jrue Holiday finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, but also committed six of their 15 turnovers. New Orleans has lost four in a row and finished its road trip 0-3.
"It was a tough road trip," Holiday said. "It was a tough one."
The victory improved Washington to 22-6 at home, matching last season's win total. Since Dec. 1, the Wizards own the best record in the East at 24-9, including 14 wins in their last 16 games. Washington's last home loss was Dec. 6 to Orlando.
The Wizards put the home and overall winning streaks on the line Monday against the Eastern Conference-leading Cavaliers.
Asked if indeed the matchup against Cleveland is indeed the biggest regular-season game of his career, Wall said, "It probably is. I've been in some big games before, but I don't think one bigger this year. They've been playing OK, but they're the defending champs. We know what team we have to chase in the East."
Marcin Gortat had 12 points and 17 rebounds for the Wizards. Otto Porter and Bradley Beal each added 12 points. Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 10 off the bench. Washington's second unit, along with Morris, turned the momentum starting the fourth quarter with an 8-1 spurt.
"I didn't even know they scored eight," Morris said of the Pelicans' paltry final-period output. "I think it was the second unit, they came in and started the fourth quarter with a lot of energy. It kind of got us going a little bit, we needed that push."
New Orleans shot 5 of 17 on 3-pointers. Terrence Jones and Evans each had 15 for the Pelicans.
Wall had 18 points and a season-high 19 assists in Washington's 107-94 win at New Orleans last Sunday. The four-time All-Star dominated the rematch.
"John Wall controlled the whole game," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. "You don't score the last 5-6 minutes of the game, there's a good probability you're going to lose the game."
New Orleans outscored Washington 34-27 in the third quarter for an 83-80 lead before the crowd of 19,651.
Porter scored 10 points in the first half and Washington led by as many as 12 before settling for a 53-49 lead at halftime. New Orleans outscored Washington 13-7 over the final 3:34 and took a 69-66 lead on back-to-back baskets by Buddy Hield and Davis midway through the third quarter.
NOTES: Pelicans F Anthony Davis had 36 points and 17 rebounds in the first meeting against the Wizards. ... Washington C Ian Mahinmi participated in his first full practice Friday. The team's top free agent acquisition received platelet-rich plasma treatment on both knees shortly before Christmas. Mahinmi has only played 14 minutes this season. ... New Orleans G Jrue Holiday averaged 24.7 points on 59.6 shooting from the field in his previous six games. ... The Wizards lost to the Cavaliers 105-94 in Cleveland on Nov. 11. ... New Orleans returns home to host Phoenix on Monday. The season series is tied 1-1, with each team winning on the road.
Updated February 4, 2017