By Dave Johnson
It’s never been easy for the Washington Wizards in Phoenix. To get their first win on the road against the Suns since December of 2006, the Wizards had to turn to their defense to survive 21 turnovers in an 88-79 win over the Suns.
Here is today’s
"I’m proud of the guys. After coming off a game that we had down the stretch in Charlotte on the first game of this trip, to come out here and bounce back against a team
we just played three days ago
, whatever it was, it’s hard to come in and beat a team twice in a turnaround like that. I’m proud of our guys.”
The Wizards, who beat the Suns 127-105 on Saturday at Verizon Center, won the season series for the first time since the 2001/2002 season. It is only the second time overall since the 1987/1988 season the Wizards have won a series against the Suns and their first victory in Phoenix since Gilbert Arenas scored 54 points in an overtime win on December 22, 2006.
The Wizards committed seven turnovers that led to 14 Suns points in the first quarter, but then seized control in the second quarter. Led by the play off the bench by Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker and Trevor Ariza, the Wizards outscored the Suns 34-19 in the second quarter to enjoy a 59-45 halftime lead.
In the first half, the Wizards received 32 points from their bench when Seraphin scored 14 of his 16 points and Ariza added all 14 of his points. Booker’s line for the game was 3 points and 7 rebounds, but his contribution cannot be defined by only numbers. In the second quarter when the Wizards started to ratchet up their defensive intensity, Booker was a big part of helping to set the tone.
John Wall led the Wizards with 19 points and 8 assists. Wall had three turnovers in the first quarter, but then only had two turnovers the rest of the game. Nene added 17 points and 8 rebounds. To help fill the void left by the absence of Emeka Okafor because of the flu. Jason Collins was given the start and delivered 17 quality minutes.
The Suns had won the previous five meetings in Phoenix against the Wizards by an average of 18.6 points. On Wednesday, the Suns only shot 33 percent from the field and were led in scoring by Goran Dragic with 16 points. The Wizards did their part to help the Suns stay in the game with 21 turnovers that led to 25 Suns points.
“We can’t live with turning the ball over that many times. Twenty-one turnovers are just unacceptable. The main point is that we had to stick together no matter what. It is kind of tough when you have an embarrassing loss like we did in Charlotte and then come back and try to bounce back here against a team that likes to run and score. The offense took care of us in the first half and the defense took care of us in the second half. There is nothing you can learn from tonight except for the fact that we stayed together.”