Wizards shoot 53 free throws, beat Suns in ‘strange’ game
PHOENIX (AP) — In what Bojan Bogdanovic called “a completely strange game,” the Washington Wizards went to the free throw line — again and again and again.
That made the difference in the Wizards’ 131-127 victory over pesky Phoenix on Tuesday night.
The Wizards shot 53 free throws, the most in the NBA this season, and made 42 of them. The Suns were 26 of 33.
No one benefited more than Bogdanovic, who set a franchise record for free throws made by going 16 of 16.
“I think the biggest difference was minus-20 (in attempts) from the free throw line,” Suns coach Earl Watson said.
But there was much more than that going on in the opener of the Wizards’ five game western trip.
“That was a wild game,” Washington coach Scott Brooks said. “That was like an old ABA game — up and down, scoring, whoever was going to end up with the 6-2 run was going to win the game.”
Bogdanovic scored 29 points, Bradley Beal had 27 and John Wall added 25 points and 14 assists in a victory that ended the Suns’ three-game winning streak, their longest since November 2015.
Eric Bledsoe scored 30 points for the Suns, who erased a 22-point, first-half deficit, were tied at 110 with 5:16 to play and challenged the Wizards in the final two minutes before Wall finally clinched it with two free throws with 6.5 seconds to play.
Devin Booker scored 25 for the Suns, nine in the final 21 seconds.
Phoenix’s Jared Dudley was ejected from the game in the first quarter for a head butt to Washington’s Jason Smith. The Wizards’ Brandon Jennings also was tossed for an inappropriate finger gesture. Replays showed he used his finger to imitate a gun.
The teams went back and forth with long scoring runs.
“We’ve got four games in five days and the more focus is needed,” Bogdanovic said. “I’ve played many strange games in Europe, but this was a strange game. Too many ups and downs.”
Tyler Ulis, whose 3-pointer at the buzzer beat Boston on Sunday, sank a 16-footer to tie it for Phoenix at 110-all with 5:16 to play.
But Bogdanovic’s third 3-pointer of the game started the decisive Washington run, a 12-2 surge that put the Wizards ahead 122-112 with 2:50 left on one of Wall’s many driving layups.
Phoenix cut it to 122-118 but Beal drove the lane for a powerful dunk. Booker made it a three-point game twice in the waning seconds, first with a three-point play, then with an extra-long 3-pointer. But Bogdanovic and Wall each sank two free throws and the Wizards escaped.
“We just got a lot of fight in this team,” Bledsoe said. “We are young but we scrap and we fight. That’s one thing I can say about this team. We never give up no matter the consequences.”
Wizards: The old record of 15 made free throws was held by several players, the latest Caron Butler on Nov. 28, 2006. ... Beal scored 15 in the game’s first five minutes. ... Ian Mahinmi had a career-high seven steals. ... Washington beat Phoenix for the fourth straight time. ... Ex-Sun Markieff Morris was still the villain but the boos weren’t quite as hearty as in the past. ... The five-game trip is the Wizards’ longest of the season. ... Beal and Booker have the most 3-pointers before their 21st birthday in NBA history. Beal had 229 before turning 21. Booker has 218 and doesn’t turn 21 until Oct. 30.
Suns: Ulis’ 25-footer to beat Boston was the Suns’ third buzzer-beater of the season, most by any team in the NBA. The others were by Bledsoe and Booker. ... Phoenix scored a season-high 53 fast-break points.
Dudley’s head-butt incident started when Smith knocked diminutive Ulis to the court with a rough screen in the backcourt. Smith was called for the foul but the two sides’ tempers erupted. Dudley ran to Smith and clearly head butted the big Washington player. After referees reviewed the video, Dudley was tossed. Jennings also was ejected for his hand gesture.
Wizards: Washington plays at Denver on Wednesday night.
Suns: Phoenix closes out a five-game homestand against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.