Kristaps Porzingis and the Washington Wizards look to continue their torrid play on Thursday when they visit the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis.
Porzingis recorded 28 points, 12 rebounds and five assists in Washington’s 126-101 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday. The win was the Wizards’ ninth in their last 13 games overall and sixth in their last eight on the road.
Porzingis made 10 of 15 shots from the floor and all seven attempts from the foul line to reach the 20-point plateau for the 14th time in his last 19 appearances. He raised the bar in his last encounter with the Timberwolves, scoring a career-high 41 points in Washington’s 142-127 victory on Nov. 28.
Minnesota likely remembers that game for a different reason. Three-time All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns injured his right calf in the third quarter and needed assistance to leave the court. He has yet to return to game action.
Kyle Kuzma, who scored 23 points in the previous meeting with the Timberwolves, poured in 33 on Tuesday in his return from a four-game absence due to a left ankle sprain.
Kuzma made 6 of 10 attempts from 3-point range for the Wizards, who shot 51.5 percent from beyond the arc (17 of 33).
“We’re making strides. I think we did a good job,” Kuzma said. “I think the biggest way — we talk about efficiency — is just the way we were playing, playing the right way, playing extra pass basketball, moving the ball around. That’s going to cause a lot of efficient nights because you’re getting quality shots.”
Washington’s efficient offensive performance notwithstanding, Bradley Beal was quick to credit his team’s adjustments on defense that helped turn the tide on Tuesday.
“It’s just our attention to detail on that end,” Beal said, per the Washington Post. “We realized that this is how we’re going to win. We can’t win unless we get some stops, unless we shut some guys down and make some teams miss.”
The Wizards’ focus in that regard on Thursday will be Anthony Edwards, who has posted career-best statistics in several categories while playing in his third season since being selected with the top overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft.
Edwards, a first-time All-Star, is averaging 24.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.6 steals. He also is shooting 46.5 percent from the floor and 36.6 percent from 3-point range.
Edwards scored 32 points on Monday for the Timberwolves, who nearly squandered a 26-point lead before holding on for a 124-121 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.
Minnesota required one final defensive stand to keep Kyrie Irving, Luka Doncic and the Mavericks at bay.
“Great stop. Guys wanted to play it out. Trust the defense in that moment,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said. “Did a really good job of kind of disrupting their play, pressuring and denying the catch. Forced it out. It became a broken play.”
Rudy Gobert made all nine of his shot attempts to finish with 21 points on Monday. He also had 14 rebounds for Minnesota, which has alternated losses and wins over its last nine games.
–Field Level Media