Kuzma scores 31, Wizards snap 5-game skid with 109-102 win over Kings

WASHINGTON (AP) — Kyle Kuzma scored 31 points and the Washington Wizards snapped a five-game losing streak with a 109-102 win over the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night.

Kuzma, who hit 13 of 22 shots and grabbed six rebounds, had missed the team’s previous two games with shoulder soreness. Deni Avdija added 17 points and Corey Kispert scored 15, sending Sacramento to its first loss in the last five meetings in Washington.

“Any win is a great win,” Kuzma said. “That’s really the NBA because any team can be beat on any given night. You’ll take a win always. It’s all about playing together and playing hard, playing smart. I feel like that was one of the smarter games we played all year, from start to finish.”

Jordan Poole scored 14 for the Wizards, while Richaun Holmes added six points and 16 rebounds against his former team.

De’Aaron Fox had 25 points and Malik Monk scored 20 to lead the Kings, who fell to 16-8 in back-to-back games. Domantas Sabonis had 14 points and 14 rebounds for his 52nd consecutive double-double, but the Kings struggled from 3-point range, hitting just 11 of 39 from outside the arc.

“Tough loss, especially where we are right now in our race for that playoff spot,” said Kings coach Mike Brown. “But you got to give the Wizards credit, their coaching staff a lot of credit. They basically took it to us. Kuzma was a handful. We did not have answers for him tonight. We tried to double team him at times and he still found a way to hit big shots.”

It took a while for the Kings to get going, but they went on an 18-0 run in the final five minutes of the second quarter to erase the Wizards’ 54-36 lead.

Fox missed 12 of his first 16 attempts in the first half, but still shared the team lead with Monk, with 10 points apiece.

“We only gave up 109 points which is not a terrible defensive game,” Fox said. “We turned them over 20 times. I think defensively we gave ourselves chances to win and for me, obviously, I have to be able to make some of those easier shots.”

Kuzma’s drive midway through the second provided Washington with its largest lead, 52-33. He had a game-high 18 at the break.

The Wizards came out of halftime on fire again with a 13-2 run, highlighted by Kuzma, to push the lead to 69-56.

Sacramento went on a 24-8 run spanning the third and start of the fourth, as Fox and Monk got hot. Fox’s 14-footer gave the Kings an 88-87 lead with 8:38 remaining. But the Wizards took over from there, led by Avdija and Kispert, for their 12th win of the season and third win in their last 10 games against the Kings.

“One of the things I liked was we had some really good stretches in the game and we had some tough ones but we were really resilient,” said Wizards interim coach Brian Keefe. “They made some big runs and they are a good team. But our guys answered the bell. It was really our defense that closed the game out.”


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