The Washington Wizards achieved a first in the young season Friday: a second straight victory.
Thanks to Bradley Beal’s 30 points and 12 assists, the Wizards defeated the Charlotte Hornets 125-118 at Capital One Arena.
The Wizards (5-8) appeared to be on track for another loss, trailing 107-94 at the 9:25 mark of the fourth quarter. But they ratcheted up the defensive pressure the rest of the way, ending the game on a 31-11 run.
Although Washington ranks near the bottom of the NBA in most defensive categories, they forced eight Charlotte turnovers in the final quarter.
“We definitely had to close out games, but we still have to get those points down,” said Beal, who shot 10-for-19 from the floor with only one turnover. “I just try to get my guys … going. I never force anything. I always want to make sure my guys are active and involved in the game and get some shots as well.”
His teammates definitely contributed with five other players scoring in double figures, including Jordan McRae, who scored 13 points and two steals.
McRae played more than nine minutes in the fourth quarter. Two other Wizards reserves, Davis Bertans (20 points) and Ish Smith (10 points), played the entire quarter.
Washington’s bench outscored their counterparts 50-38.
“Throughout all our games this year we’ve been able to score, but at the end of the game it comes down to stops,” McRae said. “Our team is deep. Anytime coach can go with anybody, that’s just a testament to the guys who’s on the bench to be ready at all times.”
Charlotte (6-10), meanwhile, lost its third straight.
Hornets forward Miles Bridges led all scorers with a career-high 31 points along with eight rebounds. Three of his teammates — Devonte’ Graham, Terry Rozier and Malik Monk — each scored 19 points.
Both teams shot better than 50 percent from the floor. They also recorded the exact figures from the 3-point line: 14-for-34, or 41 percent.
But Charlotte attempted a season-low eight free throws, despite hitting them all.
“We just didn’t respond well. We turned it over too much. Their physicality picked up,” said Hornets head coach James Borrego. “Bradley Beal is a hell of a player. He can create for them. Give them credit, they played well down the stretch [and] we didn’t.”
Washington will finish a three-game homestand Sunday against the Sacramento Kings before a four-game West Coast trip.