Sports

Burke, Bench Lead Wiz to 3rd Straight Win

No Bradley Beal, no problem.

The Washington Wizards bench, a unit criticized for poor performance early in the season, contributed 50 points in the team’s 118-95 victory Friday against the Brooklyn Nets at Verizon Center.

Wizards guard Trey Burke led the charge off the bench with a game- and season-high 27 points, 18 coming in the second quarter.

“I obviously just got to be ready to play,” said Burke, who made all seven of his first-half shots and both free throws. “Some games, I don’t know how much I’m going to play. Obviously, with [Beal] down, I knew I was going to have to come in and be a spark off the bench and be ready to play.”

Washington Wizards guard John Wall drives to the basket during the team's 118-95 victory over the Brooklyn Nets at Verizon Center in northwest D.C. on Dec. 30. (John De Freitas/The Washington Informer)
Washington Wizards guard John Wall drives to the basket during the team’s 118-95 victory over the Brooklyn Nets at Verizon Center in northwest D.C. on Dec. 30. (John De Freitas/The Washington Informer)

Rookie Sheldon McClellan, who finished with eight points, started in place of Beal, who missed his fourth game of the season after injuring his right ankle Wednesday in a win over the Indiana Pacers.

The Wizards (16-16) led nearly the entire game, as Burke’s hot shooting pushed the lead to 38-25 with 9:07 left in the second quarter, and the Nets got no closer than 11 the rest of the way.

Anthony Bennett and former Wizard Trevor Booker both scored 16 points, but the Nets (8-24) turned the ball over 21 times and shot only 43 percent from the floor.

Although the Wizards committed 19 turnovers themselves, they shot nearly 57 percent and out-rebounded the Nets 44-32.

Most of the Wizards victories are led by Beal and All-Star guard John Wall, who leads the NBA in steals and is third in assists. However, the much-maligned bench ranks second-to-last behind the Minnesota Timberwolves in average points per game (24.3) and average minutes per game (14.5).

But Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said Burke and the bench are the reason the team won its third straight and eighth straight at home.

“Trey just had an amazing night,” Brooks said. “He played very controlled. He had a nice rhythm. Guys were getting him open. As we talk to [the bench players] and develop every day in practice, you just stick with your routine, you believe in the routine and you can handle some tough times. I thought the guys have done that and they stuck with it. Give them a lot of credit because we’re back to .500 because of their ability to keep chipping away every day.”

Wall, who recorded his 20th double-double of the season with 19 points and 14 assists, also praised the bench.

“Those guys gave us a lead and played well keeping it going,” he said. “Trey came in and played a big game for us. Jason [Smith] gave us a lot of energy. Everybody came in and played well for us, and it was key for us.”

Washington hosted their last home game of 2016 on Friday and finished the month of December with record of 10-5.

The team will begin the new year on the road Monday against the Houston Rockets (25-9) and Tuesday versus the Dallas Mavericks (10-23). The Wizards return to Verizon Center next Friday when they host the Timberwolves (11-22).

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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