WASHINGTON (AP)Sacramento Kings coach Luke Walton hoped to avoid a “track meet” against the Washington Wizards on Sunday night.
Defense made it happen in the second half.
Harrison Barnes matched his season high with 26 points on 7-of-8 shooting, Bojan Bogdanovic had 21 points to help the Kings to a 113-106 victory.
Sacramento held Washington – the NBA’s second-ranked offense – to 49 points after the break and 21 in the fourth quarter.
“The challenge to the group at halftime was let’s see if we can’t continue to score but actually get some stops,” said Walton, whose team entered halftime tied at 57. “Let’s try to put our will on this game. I think our guys did a really nice job in the second half of playing defense.”
Buddy Hield added 18 points, including a late 3-pointer that put Sacramento’s lead at multiple possessions for good, and Richaun Holmes had 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The Kings – who are without injured regulars Marvin Bagley III (thumb) and D’Aaron Fox (ankle) – won for the seventh time in 10 games to improve to 7-8 while forcing 17 turnovers and holding the Wizards to 46% shooting.
“We just wanted to come out and guard and be there for each other,” Holmes said, “and I think we did a pretty good job tonight.”
Bradley Beal led Washington with 20 points, ending his string of 30 or more at a career-best five games. Isaiah Thomas added 17, and Moritz Wagner had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
“The ball just didn’t go in,” Beal said about Washington’s offense, which is averaging a fraction above 119 points and 48% from the floor. “It was just one of those nights for us. On nights like tonight, we’ve got to defend, and that’s kind of been our Achilles’ heel.”
Tied at the half, the Kings built their lead to nine on a 17-8 third-quarter run. Bogdanovic scored eight points in the stretch, including an early 3-pointer, a driving reverse layup and then a free throw that stretched it to 88-79 with 1:41 left in the quarter.
The Kings kept the lead at multiple baskets until Thomas’ baseline 3-pointer cut it to 100-97 with 4:11 left.
Hield immediately answered with a 3-pointer. The Wizards thought they had cut it to two points inside of 2 minutes, only to learn that Thomas’ Bryant’s apparent putback shortly after Hield’s 3 had been overruled for a shot clock violation following video review.
“We are getting better at our rotations and we are getting better on the ball,” said Cory Joseph, who guarded Beal most of the evening. “We are getting better as a whole defensively, and I think that we just have to continue to climb because we have the personnel to do that.”
Kings: Went 2 of 13 from 3-point range in the first half and finished 11 of 31 … G Cory Joseph (heel) started despite being limited to 23 minutes in Friday’s loss at Brooklyn … Bogdanovic (hamstring tightness) was a game-time decision after missing Friday.
Wizards: Beal’s 30-point streak was the fourth-longest in franchise history. With another game, he would’ve tied Bernard King, who scored 30-plus in six straight from Nov. 3 to Nov. 16 of 1990. … Wagner’s double-double was the second of his career. The second-year pro’s first came on Nov. 15 in a 137-116 win at Minnesota.
WHO WON THE PAINT?
While the Wizards outscored the Kings 52-46 inside the paint, Sacramento shot considerably better there (23 of 34) and also earned 28 free throws, 16 more than Washington.
“We’re not the most talented team, so we have to do everything the other teams don’t do at a high level. We’ve got to defend. We’ve got to get the 50-50 balls. We’ve got to make shots. We have no room for error, really, if we want to be good and we want to win games.” – Thomas, who is 14 games into his first season with the Wizards.
Kings: At Boston on Monday night.
Wizards: At Denver on Tuesday night.
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