At this rate, the Washington Wizards might want to avoid sleeping in their own beds the night before a game for the rest of the season — or at least the near future. The Wizards are enjoying life on the road, away from the distractions and demands; and where they can sleep on plush hotel pillows, take in the convenience of room service and experience what it feels like to actually win a basketball game. In their first game against the franchise formerly known as the Hornets, the Wizards had a harder-than-necessary, 102-96 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans and have now won six of their past seven road games. The Wizards are 9-9 on the road, at an unusual time in which they have also lost six of seven at home. “I don’t buy into home and road,” Coach Randy Wittman said. “It’s 94 feet out there, the goals are 10 feet tall. We’re playing well on the road right now, there is no question about that, but I just worry that the guys understand how we’ve got to play. Not the result. How is it that we’ve got that result?” The Wizards (16-17) were successful by incorporating a similar formula against a mediocre opponent — sharing the ball on offense and playing with intensity on defense — and showed maturity and poise down the stretch after watching a 23-point lead get whittled down to six points with less than three minutes remaining. Playing his first game in New Orleans since he was traded to the Wizards in June 2012, Trevor Ariza scored a team-high 21 points, including a huge three-pointer that quelled the Pelicans’ run, and grabbed 10 rebounds to help his team win its second straight game and improve to 6-2 on the second end of back-to-back games. In the 18 months since he last played a game in New Orleans, Ariza has seen the franchise he represented for two seasons change its nickname, colors and uniforms — but he didn’t see a huge difference. “It’s the same people over there. It’s the same team,” Ariza said with a smile. “No hard feelings. I’m just glad we came out here and we won, did what we were supposed to do.” Washington led, 91-70, when Jan Vesely caught a lob pass from Garrett Temple and threw down a dunk. John Wall hopped out of his seat, high-fived Vesely and cursed in excitement.
Ariza leads Washington to a 102-96 win at New Orleans
Washington Post | Jan 9