The Washington Post

Davis gets closer look as Wizards top Detroit



Wes Unseld Jr. sensed an opportunit­y early in the Washington Wizards’ 117-97 blowout of the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night at Capital One Arena. Washington was up 14 points in the first quarter against a Detroit team with an injury report longer than a CVS receipt. His starters had to be feeling the effects of a four-games-in-five-days stretch earlier in the month. And the coach wanted to take a better look at the 10th pick of June’s draft, who has spent the bulk of this season with the G League’s Capital City Go- Go.

Unseld took advantage of the opportunit­y, sending Johnny Davis into the game with 3:12 left in the opening quarter — and Davis made the most of it.

“I thought it meant that it was just the start of me getting hopefully more minutes and getting a spot in the rotation,” Davis said. “I think it just showed how much I’ve been working and how much


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I developed this season.”

The rookie guard’s most obvious improvemen­t is his comfort level in an NBA game. After checking in, he hit a jumper, had a nice layup underneath and scored another driving layup in his first four minutes on the court.

He finished with 11 points (on 5-for-11 shooting) and added five rebounds in 19 minutes, all season highs, while looking far more confident than he has in garbage time. Davis entered Tuesday averaging 1.1 points in 4.9 minutes across 14 games.

“I thought he was great. He was aggressive. He didn’t look out of place,” Unseld said. “I think early in the year at times, he’s looked tentative. He fit right in, got right in there. We were able to run stuff through him. He played downhill. He didn’t turn shots down, which is a great sign. ... Make or miss, I like his process. I like how he played, his demeanor on the floor. He was engaged and locked in defensivel­y.”

Davis said he has spent extensive time working with Go- Go Coach Mike Williams on his allaround game, but the 21-year-old credits a recent step forward to focusing on his mentality. While Williams has been a constant mentor, Davis also spoke with forward Anthony Gill before Tuesday’s game about not putting too much pressure on himself.

Unseld said Davis’s next steps are to continue familiariz­ing himself with the Wizards’ style of play, though his minutes and spot in the rotation are far from secure. Unseld said it’s difficult to find minutes for players down the roster when Washington is fully healthy. (The team was without Kyle Kuzma on Tuesday because of knee soreness.) The Wizards also remain in the hunt for a spot in the play-in tournament and won’t have the luxury of playing a shorthande­d Pistons squad every game.

Looking further down the line, Washington signed backup guard Jordan Goodwin to a multiyear deal last month. Unseld told The Washington Post last week that he doesn’t see overlap between the two.

“To me, they’re two different players, two different positions,” Unseld said, describing Goodwin

as a point guard and Davis as more of a shooting guard. “I like where Johnny’s progressed as far as his level of aggression and shooting it with more confidence. I think he’s settled into his role, his niche, figuring out his game, getting more accustomed to the speed of it. I know G League’s not the same, but it’s about as close as you’re going to get. Those minutes are still valuable.”

Bradley Beal led the Wizards (32-37) with a cathartic 36 points Tuesday, one off his season high, a game after Washington’s subpar offensive outing Sunday in Philadelph­ia. He added seven assists and six rebounds as Washington snapped a three-game skid.

Kristaps Porzingis had 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists, four blocks and three steals.

Corey Kispert, starting in place of Kuzma, added 16 points.

Killian Hayes paced shorthande­d Detroit (16-54) with 18 points.

Here’s what else to know about the Wizards’ win:

Standings check

The Wizards regained the 10th seed in the Eastern Conference with Tuesday’s win following the Indiana Pacers’ loss at Detroit on Monday. They sit a half-game back of the ninth-seeded Toronto Raptors.

Kuzma sits

Kuzma was sidelined with right knee soreness and is day-today. Unseld credited the issue to hard contact Kuzma had taken in the previous two games — he ran hard into a stanchion Sunday in Philadelph­ia, after which he said he felt significan­t pain in his lung.

Detroit had eight players on its injury report, including longterm stalwarts Cade Cunningham (leg) and Bojan Bogdanovic (Achilles’ tendon) as well as recent additions Jaden Ivey (coronaviru­s protocols) and Marvin Bagley III (ankle).

Few three-pointers

The Wizards trounced the Pistons while shooting just 7 for 32 (21.9 percent) from the threepoint line. That tied for their fourth-worst three-point shooting percentage of the season. They shot 51.8 percent from the field overall and were a perfect 22 for 22 from the free throw line.

 ?? Carolyn KASTER/ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Lottery pick Johnny Davis scored 11 points and added five rebounds in 19 minutes, all season highs.
Carolyn KASTER/ASSOCIATED PRESS Lottery pick Johnny Davis scored 11 points and added five rebounds in 19 minutes, all season highs.

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