OAKLAND, Calif. — The Washington Wizards didn’t have a victory over a Western Conference team with a winning record when they boarded a plane and headed west last Thursday.
Five days later, they have two, and they are gunning for more.
Point guard John Wall hit a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 1:28 to go Tuesday night, and the Wizards watched as the Golden State Warriors missed three 3-pointers down the stretch, allowing the Eastern Conference visitors to pull out an 88-85 victory.
In winning for the second time in three games during an ongoing Western trip that tipped off with a victory Friday in Phoenix, the Wizards held the Warriors to two field goals over the final 6:38 of the game. Washington never trailed in that span.
“Today was a different day. It was hot here,” Wizards small forward Trevor Ariza said of the California visit. “Now we go to Los Angeles (to face the Clippers on Wednesday night). I hope it’s the same.”
Ariza made the key defensive stop of the night, switching onto Golden State All-Star point guard Stephen Curry on the Warriors’ final possession of the game and forcing an off-balance, left-handed 3-point attempt that was well off the mark.
“We knew they’d be going for a 3,” Ariza said of a sequence that began with a Warriors timeout with 6.1 seconds left. “It was just a switch. I was glad I got the opportunity (to guard Curry).”
Golden State’s final basket, a layup by power forward David Lee, forged the game’s last tie at 85-85 with 1:47 to go.
Shooting guard Bradley Beal missed a 3-pointer on Washington’s next possession, but Ariza tracked down the rebound and found Wall for the game-winner that improved the Wizards’ road record to 12-11.
“I had amnesia,” Wall said of taking the difference-making shot on a night when he missed 13 of his previous 18 attempts. “I had good looks (earlier). I just kept shooting. I didn’t lose my confidence.”
Golden State small forward Andre Iguodala fired an airball on a 3-point attempt on the Warriors’ first possession after Wall’s hoop, and Curry twice misfired from 3-point range with a chance to tie, including the buzzer-beater under heavy pressure from Ariza.
“They just relied on good defense and put some length on me after the switch,” Curry said of the final play. “I just couldn’t find a good angle and had to throw something up.”
Held to two points while shooting 1-for-7 in the first half, Beal led Washington (22-22) with 20 points. Power forward Nene had 16 and Wall 15 as the Wizards won despite shooting just 37.8 percent from the field.
Beal (four), Wall (three) and backup swingman Martell Webster (two) combined for nine 3-pointers. Washington hit 10 of 22 long-range shots in the game and outscored Golden State 30-21 from beyond the arc.
The Wizards also outrebounded the Warriors 56-47, with center Marcin Gortat grabbing 12 boards and Ariza 11. Golden State had only five offensive rebounds in the game, matching its season low.
“We’re getting better and better each game,” Wall said. “Teams in the West are very good. It’s a tough game every night. We let one get away (Saturday at Utah), but we bounced back. That was a great win against a good Golden State team. Now we need to do it again against the Clippers.”
Curry had 23 points to pace the Warriors, who lost to Washington for the first time in seven meetings. Golden State entered the game 10-3 against Eastern Conference clubs, a record that included a 112-96 win at Washington earlier this month.
Shooting guard Klay Thompson backed Curry with 13 points despite 5-for-17 shooting, as the Warriors (27-19) shot just 37.5 percent in a game that matched teams with the sixth-best records in their respective conferences.
“Right now we are a team that if a championship-caliber team comes in here or an elite team comes in here, we play at that level,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “If a bad team or average team comes in, we play at that level. We are not good enough to allow who comes in here to determine how hard we play.”
Down 10 in the first half, the Wizards held the Warriors to two points over the first 6:24 of the third period and used a 14-2 run to open a 59-51 lead. Beal exploded for nine of Washington’s 14 points in the spurt.
The Warriors awoke to close within 66-65 by period’s end, then used an 11-2 burst early in the fourth period to go up 79-77. Thompson capped the run with a layup off a steal and a 3-pointer.
That was when Washington tightened the defensive screws, holding Golden State without a field goal from the 6:38 mark until Curry nailed a 3-pointer with 2:40 to go. The Wizards outscored the Warriors 8-1 in the meantime, turning the two-point deficit into a 85-80 advantage before Curry’s 3.
NOTES: The Wizards have alternated wins and losses in their past seven games, always winning when they were one game under .500 (as they were entering Tuesday’s game) and then losing every time they had a chance to go above the break-even mark. … Wednesday’s game against the Clippers will mark the sixth time this season the Wizards can go over .500 with a win. They have yet to prevail under those circumstances. … The Wizards promoted SF Glen Rice Jr. from Iowa of the NBA Development League before the game. Rice averaged 2.9 points in 11 games for the Wizards earlier this season before suffering a broken right wrist. He totaled 73 points and 31 rebounds in three games for Iowa over the past week. Rice was in Oakland with the team Tuesday but was not activated for the game. … Warriors SF Andre Iguodala turned 30 Tuesday, and he played on his birthday for the fourth consecutive season. He averaged nearly a triple-double (11.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 8.7 assists) on his previous three birthdays, but he had a triple-single (five points, eight rebounds, three assists) Tuesday.
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