Warriors must sweat small stuff versus Wizards
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Washington Wizards are prepared to take a small-ball approach up against a champion that has mastered the concept when they visit the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night.
The Wizards were forced to up the tempo with a smaller lineup in Monday's 125-124 overtime victory on the road over the Portland Trail Blazers because starting center Dwight Howard didn't make the trip west due to a sore glute and his replacement, Ian Mahinmi, experienced back pain four minutes into the game.
Howard won't play at Golden State, and Mahinmi is doubtful, leaving the Wizards with the same roster that managed to outgun the Trail Blazers for the final 49 minutes after Mahinmi left Monday's game.
The Wizards shifted Markieff Morris to center and inserted Kelly Oubre Jr. into frontcourt alignment, teaming them with Otto Porter Jr., Bradley Beal and John Wall.
That fivesome played 16 minutes together against Portland after having been on the court at the same time for a total of three minutes in the team's first two games.
After scoring 25 points and watching his team shoot 15-for-37 from 3-point range, Beal gave the new look his stamp of approval.
"I think that's the best basketball we played, obviously all year," he insisted. "It's fun. Everybody touched it. Everybody was involved and everything was clicking on both ends."
Wizards coach Scott Brooks agreed, noting, "The way this league is going, if you don't score 120 points, you have no chance to win. You gotta score points in this league."
The Warriors understand that. They led the NBA in scoring en route to a second consecutive championship last season, and demonstrated that type of firepower in a 123-103 home victory over Phoenix on Monday night in which Golden State had 106 points after three quarters.
The explosion came one night after the Warriors failed to score in triple digits in a 100-98 loss at Denver.
"That looked like our team," Warriors coach Steve Kerr analyzed after Monday's win. "The purpose of each possession and driving and kicking and trying to get guys better shots and playing together. It was a good night."
Stephen Curry poured in 29 points in 30 minutes in the win. He came within one point of scoring 30 or more in a fourth consecutive game despite sitting out the fourth quarter.
The Warriors recorded a two-game, season-series sweep of the Wizards last season, but needed to rally from an 18-point deficit at home last October for a 120-117 win that wasn't assured until Wall misfired on a last-second 3-pointer.
The game was marred by a fight between Beal and Golden State's Draymond Green, for which they were both ejected.
The Warriors won the rematch 109-101 at Washington in February in a game Wall missed with a knee injury.
Kevin Durant, a D.C. native, totaled 63 points in the two-game sweep, hitting 21 of his 40 shots.
The 114.5-point per-game average allowed by the Wizards in the series was their second-highest of the season, surpassed only by Charlotte's 119.3.
Updated October 23, 2018