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Wizards back on track with win over Pelicans

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NEW ORLEANS — It was a Washington, D.C., kind of game — just about everyone got a piece of the pie.

Guard John Wall scored 15 points and dished out 12 assists, and four teammates scored in double figures as the Washington Wizards snapped a three-game road losing streak with a 92-85 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night at the Smoothie King Center.

“Unless somebody’s really got it going with us, we don’t care if a guy gets 20,” Wall said. “Anybody can get any score on any given night. We’re a team that wants to be five or six guys in double figures. We don’t want a guy to average 25.”

The Wizards (23-11) were chastised before game by coach Randy Wittman for their porous defense in losing road games to the Dallas Mavericks, Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs, yielding an average of 108 points on 53.5 percent shooting.

However, they forced the Pelicans (17-17) into 18 turnovers — six by guard Tyreke Evans, three of which came on charging calls — to build an 89-80 lead with 1:51 left.

The Pelicans shot just 44.6 percent from the field. Guard Eric Gordon, returning from a 21-game hiatus after tearing his left labrum on Nov. 22, shot just 2-for-8 from the floor and scored six points.

The Wizards also outmuscled the Pelicans’ leading scorer, forward Anthony Davis, holding the third-year All-Star to just three shots and four points in the first half. Davis finished with a team-high 21 points, matching Evans’ output, but his offensive push was too late.

“Our defense was fantastic tonight,” Wittman said. “This team was averaging 101, 102 points a game. For us to be able to hold them to 80 and 85 points in our two games, I’ll take that.”

Wizards forward Nene, who outweighs Davis by 30 pounds, kept his body on the thinner, more athletic forward, and the results paid off.

“I know what a team is trying to do — take me out (of the play),” Davis said. “We have got to try to use that to our advantage and get other guys the ball. I don’t care if I get the ball or not. I’m only trying to get wins.”

The Pelicans scored six straight to cut the lead to 89-85 with 30.5 seconds left, but Washington forward Rasual Butler made three of four free throws to ice the game.

Washington also got 14 points from forward Paul Pierce, 12 from guard Andre Miller, and 10 each from centers Marcin Gortat and Kris Humphries.

Miller, a 16-year NBA veteran, scored eight points in a brief stretch early in the fourth quarter, taking guard Austin Rivers to the baseline and hitting layups and short jumpers over him.

“It was just in the rhythm of the game,” Miller said. “That was big because they were starting to make a run a little bit. Home teams tend to find ways to make runs, and we found a way to hold them off.”

The Wizards led 69-58 with 2:40 left before the Pelicans scored the final six points of the third quarter to cut the lead to 69-64. Forward Ryan Anderson’s 3-pointer from the right wing moved the Pelicans within 69-67, but Washington ran off eight of the next 10 points to move back to a 77-69 lead with 8:24 left.

New Orleans had one final run, getting a 3-pointer from Anderson with 5:13 left to cut the deficit to 81-77, but Humphries tipped in a missed jumper by guard Bradley Beal and slammed home a wide-open dunk after the teams battled for a loose ball.

“I thought they were really physical with us and took us out of our rhythm because we’re never around that mark (of 18 turnovers),” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. “Anthony only had 12 shots, and a lot of it was because we didn’t get enough touches for him because we kept turning the ball over. We can’t do that against a really good team.”

NOTES: The Pelicans have alternated a loss with a victory for 10 consecutive games, the longest streak in the NBA. … Pelicans SG Eric Gordon, who missed 21 games with a torn left labrum, returned to the starting lineup against the Wizards. Coach Monty Williams said Gordon looked good in his first contact practice. “He didn’t look like he was favoring it at all,” Williams said. … New Orleans PG Jrue Holiday welcomed Gordon back. “He’s definitely another scorer,” Holiday said. “You have to always keep an eye on him. He can get to the basket at will, and he makes it easier on the bigs as well.”

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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