Avdija plays crucial fourth quarter role as Wizards climb back to defeat Lakers

Feb 23, 2021 | Deni Avdija

Now four weeks removed from their return to play, the Washington Wizards are hitting their stride, winners of five straight games. Sure, the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers were without Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder, but any win on the road against LeBron James and home-friendly officiating is well earned. Despite blowing an 8-point lead with less than five minutes left in regulation, the Wizards secured a 127-124 win in overtime. Deni Avdija had eight points and eight rebounds in 23 minutes including impactful minutes in the fourth quarter.

Deni Avdija – Photo Credit: Washington Wizards

“A lot of role players were stars tonight,” Scott Brooks began. “I thought Deni came out, he struggled in the first half. Playing the Lakers for the first time, playing against LeBron for the first time, but I thought in the second half he bounced back and he competed and challenged and he got rebounds, made some shots.”

Each playing 44 minutes, Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook had similar stat lines as the guards continue to gel. Beal had 33 points on 12-for-24 shooting, seven rebounds, six assists, five turnovers, and three steals, while Westbrook had 32 points on 13-for-25 shooting, 14 rebounds, and nine assists. In overtime, the Washington backcourt scored all 12 of their team’s points on 6-for-7 shooting to secure the victory.

Coming into Monday, Deni Avdija was just 6-for-31 (19.4 percent) from beyond the arc in his last nine games. That did not stop the rookie from stepping up to knock down two big three-pointers in the fourth quarter, both to give Washington the lead. More impressive than knocking down open shots that his teammates trust him to, Avdija played strong defense on the 17-time All-Star starter, LeBron James, too.

“I’m not afraid of anybody,” Avdija re-iterated when asked about defending LeBron James. “I’m just playing with my defensive skills. I’m just reading, sending him to his weak hand most of the time. Just playing him, taking the challenge, and defending with my heart. It’s your heart defending not anything else.”

The Wizards will play their second leg of the back-to-back in Los Angeles on Tuesday night against the Clippers with it still be decided whether Russell Westbrook will be available.

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