Rui Hachimura helps Wizards beat short-handed Suns, 127-102
WASHINGTON (AP) — Rui Hachimura matched his career high with 30 points and converted a pivotal three-point play to help the Washington Wizards pull away for a 127-102 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night in a meeting of depleted teams.
“I think right away his level of aggression, you could tell,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said about Hachimura, who finished 11 of 13 from the floor. “He was not only playing downhill, but he was taking the right types of shots. He played with a sense of urgency.”
Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma each had 22 points for Washington as three-time Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal sat out with hamstring soreness. The Wizards shot 57.3% from the floor, outscored the Suns 60-28 in the paint and outrebounded them 46-30.
Deandre Ayton scored 31 points for the Suns, who said Wednesday that All-Star guard Devin Booker will miss at least four weeks because of a left groin strain.
Chris Paul added 20 points as Phoenix led only once on the opening basket while falling to 1-2 on a six-game road trip. The Suns also are missing the injured Cam Johnson, Cam Payne and Landry Shamet.
“Look, they beat us,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “They attacked us. Close-outs tonight weren’t great. And in that third quarter and beginning of the fourth, it was just one close-out after another and they were getting to the rim. So that probably hurt us more than anything.”
The Suns' ugly night finished with four technical fouls after halftime and a fan near the Phoenix bench being ejected in the final two minutes.
“We finished the third really well. I think that was important,” Porzingis said. “That kind of set the tone for the fourth quarter also.”
It was far more competitive until Hachimura’s pivotal driving layup over Ish Wainright led to a three-point play to put Washington ahead 86-82 with 1:56 left in the third.
Entering that possession, the Suns had whittled a nine-point halftime deficit to one, and Hachimura was initially whistled for a charge on the play.
Unseld challanged and the call was reversed with Wainright assessed a block. And Hachimura’s layup and foul shot set in motion a 19-5 run that put the game out of reach.
“Usually I’m more hesitant to use it until late in the game," Unseld said. “But I felt like that was a momentum stretch there.”
The Suns said Booker will be re-evaluated after the four weeks.
“It’s the nature of a guy who puts in a lot of work and lays everything on the line,” Williams said pregame. “You’re going to run into this from time to time. I’m actually grateful, you know, that it wasn’t worse.”
Booker is averaging a career-high 27.1 points and already topped 50 points twice this season. But the 26-year-old has already missed seven of the last 10 games with hamstring and groin ailments. He played only four minutes on Christmas Day against the Denver Nuggets before departing.
Suns: C Bismack Biyombo was listed as questionable (right knee) and played five minutes, all before halftime. ... Ayton scored 16 points in the second quarter and picked up his technical with 2:55 to play in the third. ... G Damion Lee, coach Monty Williams and Paul got technicals in the fourth.
Wizards: Hachimura eclipsed his previous season high on a runner that took his total to 24 points and extended Washington's lead to 110-96 midway through the fourth quarter. ... Beal has missed 13 games so far this season for a range of injury and illness reasons. He's day-to-day going forward, Unseld said.
Suns: At Toronto on Friday night.
Wizards: At Orlando on Friday night.
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