NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Bradley Beal’s soaring one-handed jam on an explosive cut down the lane, Marcin Gortat’s alley-oop dunk and Markieff Morris’ open 3-pointer had one thing in common.
They were all products of a passing clinic conducted by point guard John Wall, who’ll be returning to New Orleans as an All-Star in just a few weeks.
Wall had 18 points and tied a career-high with 19 assists, and the Washington Wizards extended their winning streak to four with a 107-94 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday night.
Morris, who had 21 points, said Wall’s productivity as a passer was “not surprising to us.”
“If we’d make shots he’d have 20 assists every game,” Morris said. “You see how easy it is when he gets to penetrating. He’s a great passer. He’s got eyes in the back of his head, so we’ve just got to get open.”
Anthony Davis had 36 points, 17 rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots for New Orleans, which came in hoping to build on a convincing win over San Antonio two nights earlier. Davis and Jrue Holiday, who had 26 points and 11 assists, helped New Orleans erase a 17-point halftime deficit during the third quarter.
But the Wizards remained composed and regained control for good with a pivotal 8-0 run in the middle of the third quarter that was highlighted by 3s by Morris and Beal.
“They just shot the ball extremely well though in the fourth quarter and every time we had a breakdown in game plan discipline, they made us pay,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said.
Beal, who scored 27 points, said he still gets a kick out of the crowd reactions to Wall’s spectacular play-making.
“When a lot of people go ‘ooh,’ and ‘ah,’ I’m like, ‘That’s your first time seeing that?” Beal began, but conceded, “Sometimes I am in awe because I don’t know how he makes some of the passes he does. But he’s constantly getting better. He’s constantly an unselfish player and I’m happy that I can grow with him.”
Gortat finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Wall set up seven 3s, meaning he figured in 63 of Washington’s points.
“We have Brad that can score, ‘Kieff that can score — everybody can score and get into a rhythm,” said Wall, who also had two steals and blocked a shot. “My job is to play defense and try to set these guys up. But when I’m being aggressive on both ends of the floor, that opens up the floor for everybody.”
New Orleans outscored Washington 33-17 in the third quarter, thanks in large part to improved 3-point shooting. After going 3 of 16 from deep in the first half, the Pelicans hit six of seven 3s in the third. Holiday hit all three 3s he took and Davis added another that pulled New Orleans to 70-68.
Davis, who scored 16 points in the third on 7-of-10 shooting, briefly gave New Orleans a 73-72 lead with his pull-up jumper.
New Orleans was still as close as 83-80 in the fourth quarter, when Davis scored while fouled and added a technical free throw for a four-point possession after Wizards coach Scott Brooks was whistled for arguing. But Washington scored the next eight points and led by at least nine the rest of the way.
Washington scored the first nine points of the game and led by 11 when Otto Porter Jr.’s second 3 of the first period made it 24-13.
The Pelicans briefly got as close as 32-28 in the second quarter, but the Wizards went on a 19-3 run, capped by Morris’ right corner 3, that gave Washington its largest lead at 49-31.
“When you’re giving up anything they want — dunks, lay-ups, wide-opens shots — and then we come out and aren’t executing offensively, it kind of just drains you mentally,” Davis said. “They took advantage of that.”
Wizards: Wall has six games with at least 15 points and 15 assists. … Beal has led the Wizards in scoring 17 times and scored 20 or more 26 times. … Gortat has 26 double-doubles this season.
Pelicans: Donatas Motiejunas scored 10 points. … New Orleans wrapped up a six-game home stand at 3-3 and now plays its next three on the road.
Pelicans: Visit Toronto on Tuesday night.
Wizards: Host New York on Tuesday night.