WASHINGTON (AP) — Spencer Dinwiddie scored 19 of his 27 points in the second half, and the Washington Wizards erased a 19-point deficit to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 105-100 Monday night for their fifth consecutive victory.
Washington at 10-3 is off to the franchise’s best start in 47 years when the Bullets opened the 1974-75 season 11-2. The Wizards have done this with and without All-Star guard Bradley Beal, who missed a second consecutive game mourning the death of his grandmother.
“We love him, we support him and we can’t wait till he comes back,” Wizards forward Deni Avdija said.
Aaron Holiday, who took Beal’s spot in the starting lineup, scored 12 points. Dinwiddie made his first three 3-point attempts in the third quarter to start the climb back from down 60-41, cutting the Pelicans’ lead to five before a series of fouls and missed free throws temporarily stalled the comeback bid.
Trailing by seven entering the fourth quarter, it took until Kyle Kuzma’s 3 with 5:18 left for the Wizards to pull even at 92 for the first tie since 33-all. Avdija’s fast-break layup put Washington up with under four minutes left, and the second-year pro from Israel grabbed a defensive rebound on the next Pelicans possession to bring the home crowd to its feet.
Fan favorite center Montrezl Harrell was serenaded with “M-V-P! M-V-P!” chants while shooting free throws with two minutes remaining and pounded his chest after drawing an offensive foul seconds later. The Wizards pulled away from there on jumpers by Avdija and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, while the Pelicans missed 11 consecutive attempts from the field to let the game slip away.
New Orleans lost for the 13th time in 15 games this season, all without Zion Williamson because of a broken right foot. Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram led all scorers with 31 points in his second game back from a hip injury, and Jonas Valanciunas added 16.
The Wizards have been playing without Rui Hachimura because the forward was granted a leave of absence for personal reasons. They know they’ll need to integrate him into the rotation at some point but don’t yet know what that looks like or when it will happen.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Washington coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “Obviously we’re playing pretty well. Sometimes as coaches we overthink it, and you’re worried about upsetting the balance. There’s another part of me that says, ‘You know what, just rip the band aid off and go for it, see how it looks.’ But when that time comes, we’re just going to have to deal with it, incrementally bring him in, bring him along.”
Pelicans: Josh Hart, who coach Willie Green has praised for becoming a better leader, had 13 points and 12 rebounds. … Former Wizards guard Garrett Temple scored eight points. … Ingram had missed seven consecutive games before coming back Saturday against Memphis. … Devonte Graham finished with 14 points.
Wizards: Held an opponent at 100 or fewer points for the sixth time in 13 games. They only did that five times last season. … Caldwell-Pope finished with 18 points and hit four 3s. … Dinwiddie also had nine assists. … Unseld expects Beal to travel with the team on its upcoming two-game road trip and be available to play Wednesday night at Miami. … Forward Davis Bertans, who has been out with a sprained left ankle, continues to practice and could play next week, according to Unseld.
Pelicans: Wrap up their two-game road trip at the Miami Heat on Wednesday night.
Wizards: Visit the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports