PHOENIX (AP)Kyle Kuzma scored 29 points and the Washington Wizards stopped their 10-game losing streak on Tuesday night, beating the Phoenix Suns 113-110.
Washington played without Kristaps Porzingis, sidelined with what Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. called a ”non-COVID illness.” But Daniel Gafford filled in at center and had 12 points and eight rebounds as the Wizards won for the first time since Nov. 28, when they beat Minnesota 142-128 in Washington.
Bradley Beal, held to two points in the first half, scored 16 in the fourth quarter and finished with 27 for the Wizards (12-20), including two free throws to make it a five-point lead with 14 seconds left. Deni Avdija had 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Washington led by as many as 17 points in the third quarter, but Phoenix cut the deficit to 80-78 by the end of the period and took a 10-point lead midway through the fourth. The Wizards got it back to 100-96 and a charging foul on Ayton against the Wizards’ Taj Gibson led to nine straight points for the visitors.
”That’s a huge step for us,” Unseld said. ”It’s something that we can continue to build on. You give yourself a chance. We minimized some of the mistakes that jumped us and bit us the last few games.
”These guys have continued to play hard and (the streak) didn’t affect their competitive spirit. Sometimes you make your own luck. Some of those hustle plays, 50-50 balls, the charge that Taj took, those are the plays that get you out of those ruts. I’m happy for those guys, I know they’re relieved and excited at the same time.”
Landry Shamet led the Suns with a season-high 31 points, making a career-high nine 3-pointers. Deandre Ayton had 30 points and 13 rebounds.
”My teammates were finding me, and I just made shots,” Shamet said. ”We couldn’t close the game out.”
Devin Booker missed his second straight game with groin soreness after scoring 58 points against New Orleans on Saturday.
”Our defense in the fourth quarter broke down and we gave up 33 points, and 25 points off turnovers in the game,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. ”That kind of put us in mud. The offense wasn’t our demise tonight, it was our defense.
”I thought we got a bit tired and missed some shots and didn’t execute down the stretch.”
Earlier Tuesday, mortgage executive Mat Ishbia agreed in principle to buy a majority stake of the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury from the embattled owner Robert Sarver for $4 billion.
Chris Paul, who scored 28 points against the Lakers on Monday, didn’t score Tuesday until midway through the third quarter and finished with 12 points and 11 assists.
Duane Washington Jr., in his first game back from a hip injury, scored 10 for the Suns. Mikal Bridges also scored 10.
Wizards: Unseld said before the game that Porzingis woke up this morning ”not feeling particularly well.” While tests came back negative for COVID-19, he missed the shootaround and was still not feeling right. ”I don’t think it’s anything that’s substantial. Hopefully it’s just 24(equals), 48-hour variety,” Unseld said. He also said he’s hopeful that G Delon Wright, who has missed nearly two months with a right hamstring strain, could return in Washington’s next game Thursday.
Suns: Josh Okogie (right hip soreness) joined the injured list. Cameron Payne (foot) and Jock Landale (concussion protocol) remain sidelined along with Booker and Cam Johnson (right knee meniscus tear). Williams said Booker will probably have an evaluation on Wednesday.
Wizards: At Utah Thursday.
Suns: Host Memphis Friday.