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Wizards look to exact revenge from Hornets
WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards returned from the All-Star break with a rousing road victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
It may take a similar effort for a repeat Friday night at home based on their struggles against the Charlotte Hornets this season.
Thursday's meeting with the LeBron James-led Cavaliers put the Wizards in the underdog mode especially with Cleveland's three-game winning streak after a series of deals at the NBA trade deadline. The scenario played out as expected early.
Washington (34-24) trailed by 12 points, but the Wizards entered halftime up 57-54 and took control with a 9-0 run in the fourth quarter for their third win in a row.
All-Star guard Bradley Beal had 18 points and nine assists. Tomas Satoransky and Kelly Oubre Jr. each had 17 points as the Wizards improved to 8-2 in 10 games since losing John Wall to a knee injury. Washington, one-half game behind Cleveland for third in the East, outscored the Cavaliers 35-23 in the second quarter.
"It was a great team effort," Beal said. "We know the games after the break and the games before the break are always the toughest ones to get, especially in an environment like this, playing against a team like this. It was definitely a challenge for us and the rest of the year will be a challenge for us. We kept our poise, didn't let their runs affect us."
Charlotte (25-33) defeated the Brooklyn Nets 111-96 on Thursday behind 31 points from All-Star Kemba Walker and 24 rebounds by Dwight Howard. The Hornets outscored the Nets in the fourth quarter 31-22, hit 11 of 21 3-pointers and dominated the boards 54-41.
Howard also had 15 points for Charlotte as all five starters scored in double figures.
"You're talking about a guy that's had major knee surgery and major back surgery," Hornets coach Steve Clifford said of Howard. "You'd never know it."
The Hornets won both previous meetings this season against Washington, including a dominate 133-109 victory in Charlotte on Jan. 17. Charlotte set a franchise-record with 77 first-half points in the rout. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 21 points and Howard finished with 18 points and 15 rebounds.
"I think we just came out with a lot of energy, we moved the ball, we got out on the break and we got stops on defense and that led to easy points on the offensive end," Howard said after the January win.
Satoransky, filling in for the injured Wall, finished with 17 points, eight assists and zero turnovers Thursday.
"That is great, that is awesome," Beal said of his new backcourt partner. "He's just giving us a chance. We don't want John out, but with him being out, he's playing a lot of minutes. He's being himself and that's exciting to see.
"He was drafted with me so I'm happy to see my boy come in and do what he do best. It's just amazing to see his development constantly being made. He puts in work each and every day and it's showing on the court."
Wall had surgery Jan. 31 and was slated to miss 6-to-8 weeks.
Updated February 23, 2018