NBA: Kristaps Porzingis stars in Wizards debut, helps top Pacers | Inquirer Sports
NBA

NBA: Kristaps Porzingis stars in Wizards debut, helps top Pacers

/ 12:14 PM March 07, 2022

Kristaps Porzingis

Kristaps Porzingis #6 of the Washington Wizards warms up before the game against the Detroit Pistons at Capital One Arena on March 1, 2022 in Washington, DC. Scott Taetsch/Getty Images/AFP

Kristaps Porzingis dazzled in his Washington debut with two late dunks among 25 points in just 21 minutes, six teammates also scored in double figures and the Wizards ran away from the visiting Indiana Pacers for a 133-123 victory on Sunday night.

Acquired from the Dallas Mavericks at the trade deadline, Porzingis had sat out 14 straight games — including his first eight for the Wizards — with a sore right knee.

The big man got the green light to return Sunday and immediately demonstrated he’d like to be a driving force in lifting the Wizards into a spot in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.

The Wizards, who won just their sixth game in the past 19, stand 11th in the East.

Porzingis shot 7 for 12 overall, 3 for 4 on 3-pointers and 8 for 10 from the free throw line in his 18th 20-point game of the season.

Kyle Kuzma finished with 23 points. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 19 points, Ish Smith 13 and Deni Avdija, Daniel Gafford and Tomas Satoransky 10 apiece for the Wizards, who trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half and 61-57 at halftime.

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Kuzma complemented his scoring with eight assists and five rebounds, while Smith contributed team-highs of nine assists and seven rebounds.

Indiana’s Malcolm Brogdon was the game’s leading scorer with 27 points. He, like Porzingis, did much of his damage at the foul line, going 11 for 13.

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Tyrese Haliburton had a 15-point, 11-assist double-double for the Pacers. Goga Bitadze totaled a career-high 20 points, Buddy Hield 19 points, Jalen Smith 15 and Duane Washington Jr. 11.

Washington took the lead for good at 69-67 on a Porzingis jumper four minutes into the third quarter, but the Pacers hung within 116-113 before Kuzma converted a three-point play with 4:19 to go and Anthony Gill buried a 3-pointer, creating some breathing room.

Porzingis, Caldwell-Pope and Corey Kispert bombed in three 3-pointers apiece, helping Washington gain a 51-30 advantage in points from beyond the arc.

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Indiana got within three one more time, but Porzingis thwarted that challenge with an alley-oop slam off an Avdija assist and another dunk.

The Pacers lost despite shooting 51.8 percent from the field. Washington finished at 52.3 percent.

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TAGS: Kristaps Porzingis, NBA, Washington Wizards

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