The Washington Wizards aim to extend their season-high winning streak to five games Wednesday when they host the Oklahoma City Thunder in Washington, D.C.
The Wizards began their streak in Charlotte on Nov. 7 and since have won the first three contests of their six-game homestand.
Kristaps Porzingis scored 25 points and Deni Avdija added a career high-tying 21 Sunday night in Washington’s 102-92 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Wizards have had their long-range shooting touch lately, making 35 3-point baskets over the past two games on 46-percent shooting. Their 19 against the Grizzlies was just one shy of the franchise record.
Washington coach Wes Unseld Jr. credited a portion of his team’s recent hot shooting from beyond the arc to its ability to seek “paint threes.” That’s what he calls a drive into the paint to draw the defensive attention before kicking the ball out for an open 3-pointer.
“Just more of a mindset. I think we’re doing a better job of finding those paint 3s — being a little bit more disciplined with our spacing,” Unseld said. “The kick-aheads in transition have been good. And our willingness to shoot it — I thought earlier in the year we were turning down too many. Those led to more turnovers and some of the tough, contested midrange shots. We’re trying to avoid some of that.”
Avdija, who has scored in double figures in each of his past three games, credited the team’s penchant to make the extra pass on possessions. That ultimately led to Washington totaling 26 assists Sunday. The Wizards have averaged 26 in the past three games.
“The ball just doesn’t stick, so it’s beautiful,” Avdija said. “I think we should play like that all the time. We’ve put emphasis on that and hopefully it will continue.”
The Wizards’ win streak has been accomplished without Bradley Beal, who is working his way back into shape after going through NBA health and safety protocol. The three-time All-Star is averaging a team-best 21.6 points a game.
While Washington is ascending in the standings, Oklahoma City has lost five of its last seven contests, and now heads into the third stop on a four-game road trip.
Despite their recent troubles, the Thunder have been lighting up the scoreboard, averaging a robust 132.8 points over their past four games.
“When we play to our identity, we can play with anybody,” said Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who scored 37 points in each of the past two games — a 145-135 win over the New York Knicks on Sunday and a 126-122 loss to the Boston Celtics a day later.
Gilgeous-Alexander averages team-leading totals in points (31.5), assists (5.8) and steals (2.1).
–Field Level Media