Wizards hand Pelicans seventh straight loss, 113-103

Washington Wizards center Daniel Gafford (21) grabs a rebound next New Orleans Pelicans forward...
Washington Wizards center Daniel Gafford (21) grabs a rebound next New Orleans Pelicans forward Herbert Jones (5) as New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum falls down in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)(Matthew Hinton | AP)
Published: Jan. 28, 2023 at 10:20 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Daniel Gafford had a season-high 21 points to go with 12 rebounds and five blocked shots, and the Washington Wizards beat the reeling New Orleans Pelicans 113-103 on Saturday night for their fifth straight victory.

Bradley Beal scored nine of his 16 points in the fourth quarter and Deni Avdija scored 13 for Washington, which also won its fourth straight on the road while sending New Orleans to its seventh straight loss overall.

Washington led most of the game and by as many as 16 points when Kendrick Nunn’s driving layup made it 96-80 with 8:16 to go.

That’s when the Pelicans suddenly seized momentum with a 10-0 run that included Brandon Ingram’s fadeaway and Herb Jones’ breakaway dunk.

New Orleans appeared to have a chance to pull within three when officials initially called a foul on Washington during Jose Alvarado’s drive to the hoop. But the Wizards challenged the call and it was overturned. Moments later, Beal hit a pullup as he was fouled by Ingram and completed the three-point play to make it 100-92.

The Pelicans did not get within six points after that.

Corey Kispert and Nunn each scored 12 for Washington, while Kyle Kuzma added 10 points.

CJ McCollum scored 24 points for the Pelicans. Brandon Ingram, playing in his second game since missing 29 straight with a left large toe injury, scored 22 points on 8-for-22 shooting.

New Orleans had to play most of the game without top rebounder Jonas Valanciunas, who was ejected after a his elbow struck Taj Gibson in the head as the Pelicans center made a move toward the basket with the ball in his hands. Valanciunas said contact was inadvertent, but officials ruled it a Flagrant-2 foul after video review.

Valanciunas laughed incredulously as he walked to the tunnel leading to the locker room.

Gafford had 14 of his points in the first half, highlighted by his soaring alley-oop jam of Beal’s lob, which the center caught with one hand high above his head and slammed down hard in one motion.

Washington led much of the first half, when the Wizards outrebounded New Orleans 29-19 and turned nine offensive rebounds into 17 second-chance points.

McCollum had 14 of his points in the opening two periods to help keep the Pelicans within single digits.

Delon Wright’s driving finger roll as time expired made it 59-50 at halftime.

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