I was not expecting to watch a thriller when I tuned into the game between the Washington Wizards and the Phoenix Suns. In fact, I assumed that the shorthanded Suns would make short work of the Wizards even while missing Devin Booker.
However, the Wizards had other plans, and carried a small lead into halftime that they ballooned into a 17-point advantage after Daniel Gafford split a pair of free throws with 7:09 remaining in the third quarter. At that point, it looked like Washington had Phoenix’s number and were ready to push on for a relatively easy victory.
The Suns, of course, had a response of their own prepared, and they turned a 71-54 deficit into a 92-82 lead with 7:42 left in the fourth quarter. They were carried by Landry Shamet, who set a new career high with 31 points after shooting 9 of 16 from beyond the arc.
Unfortunately for Shamet, his career night was ruined by a stubborn Wizards squad that simply refused to give up. Still trailing 98-88 with 5:35 left after a pair of free throws from DeAndre Ayton, Washington went on a 23-2 run that put them into a 109-100 lead with just 22.2 seconds left in the game. Just as Shamet stepped up for the Suns, Deni Avdija showed his own scoring chops as he scored nine of his 16 points during that final push.
The Suns were never able to recover from that, and the 113-110 scoreline only happened because Shamet took and made a three as time expired.
Kyle Kuzma led the Wizards in scoring with 29 points, six rebounds, six assists and two steals and he also made one of the game’s most important shots in the clutch.
Bradley Beal also had his own strong contribution, finishing with 27 points, six rebounds, six assists, a steal and a block. More importantly, he also attacked the rim and got to a line a lot, making 11 of 14 free throws to help his team claw back into the game.
The Suns will regret this loss, especially considering how close the playoff race in the Western Conference is. They had a strong game from Ayton, who ended with 30 points and 13 rebounds, but had a hard time on the glass whenever he took a break. Paul finished with 12 points and 11 assists but also missed two of three crucial free throws with seconds left in the game.
The big comeback win snapped the Wizards’ 10-game losing streak, but they still find themselves 12th in the Eastern Conference with a 12-20 record. They’re only a game and a half behind the 10th place Toronto Raptors though, who have had their fair share of struggles.