Back at Verizon Center after more than a week on the road, the Washington Wizards
sloughed off a slow start Tuesday to come away with 118-111 win against the Charlotte Hornets.
After allowing the Hornets to score 63 points and shoot 60 percent from the floor, the Wizards woke up in the second half, surrendering only 18 points in the third quarter.
Shooting guard Bradley Beal, who scored 19 points, credits the team’s second-half improvement to a halftime tongue-lashing from head coach Scott Brooks.
“That’s his dark side. He definitely has one,” Beal said of Brooks. “It’s a good thing because he grants us a lot of freedom. He trusts us on both ends of the floor, but ultimately, he still holds us accountable for not playing well. He’s going to let us know, regardless of who it is.”
The Wizards (47-31), which clinched the Southeast Division last week, stopped a three-game skid and pulled into a tie for third place in the Eastern Conference with the Toronto Raptors, which lost Tuesday to the Indiana Pacers.
It was the 30th home win of the season for Washington, the franchise’s highest total in nearly three decades.
All-Star point guard John Wall, who had 23 points, 13 assists and tied a season high with six steals, admitted the team keeps an eye on the standings.
“Everybody’s looking,” he said. “You can’t sit there and say you’re not. It’s good for us to come back home and get a win. We have a favorable schedule for us to win, but we have to go out there and compete and see where it goes.”
The Wizards’ remaining four regular-season contests are against teams with losing records, including a road game Thursday against the New York Knicks (38-40).
The Hornets (36-42) remain in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, two games behind Indiana for the eighth and final playoff spot.
Charlotte also had one less man on the bench because assistant coach Patrick Ewing took the top job at his alma mater of Georgetown University earlier this week.
Hornets point guard Kemba Walker lead all scorers with 37 points and dished out four assists, while Marco Beliinelli had 16 off the bench.
Both the Hornets and Wizards shot 51 percent, but Washington also made 50 percent of its 3-pointers, while Charlotte shot 35 percent from beyond the arc.
“[In the] second half we made a few adjustments, but the adjustments were just that we played with the passion that we need to get a defensive stop,” Brooks said. “Throughout the second half was good basketball for us.”