Avdija, Kuzma lead Wizards to victory over the Nets
Kuzma checked back into the game with Brooklyn leading 98-97 and scored nine of Washington’s next 11, with fans at Capital One Arena come to a standing ovation as the Wizards dribbled the ball out on a rare home win.
“That’s how I want to play,” Kuzma said. “When you think about the top options on every team, that’s how they play. I don’t necessarily have the opportunity to do that.”
Tyus Jones added 12 points for the Wizards, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Outside of recent back-to-back victories over the Detroit Pistons, who have currently matched the worst losing streak in NBA history, Brooklyn has lost seven in a row.
Mike Muscala nailed a 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter for Washington to retake the lead at 87-86. Muscala finished with 11 points off the bench in a game that had 13 lead changes and eight ties. The Wizards could never get too comfortable, leading by no more than seven.
“The atmosphere was great. Friday night, fans showed out,” Avdija said. “Honestly, I asked Corey (Kispert) in the locker room if it felt like a playoff game to him because of the intensity of the game, good crowd. It was really fun to play today and I think we got going. Certain units got going. Everybody participated tonight, which was big time for us.”
After a back-and-forth first quarter, with seven lead changes and three ties, the game was knotted at 25.
The Wizards would jump out to a few leads in the second quarter before Brooklyn went up 47-46 with 3:31 remaining. It was part of a 13-2 run before Avdija nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Wizards a 54-53 lead going into the locker room.
Cam Thomas came off the bench to score 15 points for Brooklyn, while Day’Ron Sharpe added 10 points and nine rebounds.
“There were so many stretches through the course of the game where I don’t think we took advantage of opportunities that we had, whether that was finishing quarters the correct way, whether that was just throwing simple passes instead of elaborate passes and complicating things,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said. “And so when you don’t take advantage of each possession, you put yourself in a position where it’s a little bit more pressure and stress on you in the fourth quarter.”
Trailing by one, the Nets started the second half on an 8-0 run. Brooklyn had an 86-84 lead after Kispert hit a 3-pointer with a second remaining in the third quarter. Kispert finished with 11 points.
Danilo Gallinari missed the game for the Wizards with back spasms.
“He’s still not quite right,” Washington coach Wes Unseld Jr. said before the game. “With back spasms, sometimes it takes a little bit to calm down. He just tweaked it on an errant pass – tried to reach it and tweaked it. We’ll give it another day and see how he responds.”
Nets: Visit Oklahoma City on Sunday.
Wizards: Host Atlanta on Sunday.