Wizards face stiff challenge in Clippers (Dec 18, 2016)

BY AP • December 18, 2016

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards would be wise not suggesting Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan is a one-trick big man. If there a need for any pregame chatter, they can focus on their own winning and varied formula.

The Wizards (11-14) are playing their best basketball of the season and coming off their best offensive performance of the season. John Wall scored 29 points and Bradley Beal had 25 as Washington dominated the Detroit Pistons 122-108 on Friday night for their second straight win and fourth in five games. Shooting 57.1 percent from the field and hitting 12 of 25 on 3-pointers against the second-best scoring defense in the league was the latest example of the early-season underachievers coming together.

"I think we're getting into a nice little rhythm that we're understanding what we want to do as a basketball team on both ends," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "We're still not where we need to be but I see some progress, I see some belief in each other and that's what it's about. There's a lot of good players and good teams in this league, the common denominator is they play together and for each other. We still are trying to build that chemistry and comradery as a group. I think it's starting to pay off."

Beal and Wall combined for 15 assists and one turnover. The offensive flow over this recent stretch stems from a renewed focus guarding their opponents.

"It's been good, we just figured it out," Beal said. "To me it has just been on the defensive end. We've been taking care of guarding guys, and pressuring guys when we need to, and getting stops, and it's just making it easier for offense. We've always believed in our offense, we score over 100-points a game, we trust our system, but when we get stops and defend we're a really good team."

The Clippers (20-7) are one of the NBA's best teams and Friday's 102-98 victory at the Miami Heat was the latest example. Blake Griffin scored 20 points and Chris Paul had 17, but it was Jordan's stat-stuffing work that stole the show.

The big man had 12 points, 19 rebounds and three blocks in Los Angeles' fourth straight win which Jordan sealed with a putback in the final seconds.

This came after Miami center Hassan Whiteside described Jordan as a one who "just catches lobs."

"I just wanted to come out here and get a win," a smiling Jordan told the Los Angeles Times after the victory.

Asked if team was trying to feed Jordan in his matchup with Whiteside, Paul said: "C"mon, man. Big fella (Jordan) is first team All-NBA, first team All-Defense. He ain't got to say nothing."

The Clippers rank eighth in scoring defense at 101 points per game, well ahead of the Wizards (106.3).

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