Wizards’ defense holds up against Blazers while Deni Avdija sees season-low playing time

Feb 21, 2021 | Deni Avdija

Throughout the ups and downs, mostly downs, of a 6-17 start, the Washington Wizards continued to preach that they would stick together and eventually get on a hot streak once they developed some chemistry and consistency. It may have come a third of the way through the short season, but the Wizards have hit a groove with their first four-game winning streak in over three years after downing the Portland Trailblazers 118-111. In just 11 minutes off the bench, Deni Avdija made his only shot attempt of the game for two points while also grabbing three rebounds.

Fresh off being named an All-Star starter for the first time in his career, Bradley Beal continued his status quo production with 37 points on 16-for-27 shooting. Playing the Robin to Beal’s Batman, Russell Westbrook had one of his best games as a Wizard with 27 points on an efficient 11-for-17 shooting as well as 13 assists and 11 rebounds for his eighth triple-double of the season.

“S— I made shots I usually make, that’s it,” Westbrook attributed his strong jump-shooting performance. “I stay locked in, sticking to my routine. Every season, I know it’s a long season and I’m a guy that wants to create consistency and get better as the season goes along.”

Photo Credit: Washington Wizards

Aside from too many turnovers and offensive rebounds allowed in the first quarter leading to 23 of Portland’s 43 points in the opening frame and an unguardable 23 point third quarter burst from Damian Lillard, the Wizards defense played well. Holding the home team to a 12 point second quarter and a 19 point fourth quarter is hard to do in today’s NBA, but Washington found a way to get it done aided by the Blazers shooting 36 percent from the field. Rui Hachimura’s strong defensive presence guarding positions 1 through 5 during this winning streak has been lauded by his coaches and teammates.

“Defensively, it takes all five and we’re being better at that. Everybody is accepting the individual challenge, we’re helping each other. It’s all starting to click, we’re not getting tired of doing the right things on the court. That’s been a testament to our maturity the last few games.”

Deni Avdija – Photo Credit: Washington Wizards

Playing a season-low in minutes, Avdija lost some playing time in the second quarter to Isaac Bonga who played five meaningful minutes for the first time in two weeks. Brooks credited Bonga for his play during the short run after the game. In the second half, Davis Bertans ate into some of Avdija’s minutes and despite the 0-for-6 shooting through three quarters, Scott Brooks played the sharpshooter all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter that included two timely three-pointers to maintain Washington’s lead. For the time being, firmly engrained in a bench role, Avdija’s playing time can fluctuate as he continues to adjust to the NBA game.

Washington’s first West Coast road trip of the season continues on Monday against the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers who have lost two straight without Anthony Davis (calf).

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