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Wizards focused on defense entering matchup vs. Kings

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards stepped up their defense in back-to-back wins, but they aren't ready to claim mission accomplished. The Wizards might have a different take if they can replicate their winning performance from earlier this season in the Monday's rematch with the Sacramento Kings.

Bradley Beal scored 19 points and Markieff Morris had 18 as the Wizards (7-5) rolled past the Atlanta Hawks for a 113-94 victory on Saturday night. The triumph followed a 16-point win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, which snapped a three-game home losing streak during which Washington allowed an average of 121 points.

After Los Angeles shot 36 percent from the field, Atlanta hit only 41 percent of its attempts and had 24 turnovers, resulting in 39 points for the Wizards.

Morris acknowledged some momentum gained defensively in the two wins, but bigger tests will follow.

"Not to take credit away from the Lakers and the Hawks, but they're not the best offensive teams. Once we get to those good teams, then we'll be able to measure what we have," Morris said.

The Wizards measured up nicely against the Kings (3-9) during their 110-83 rout in Sacramento on Oct. 29, but then dropped three of four before the current winning streak. The Kings shot 39 percent from the field.

Washington shot 53.8 percent from the field against Atlanta, led by as many as 25 points and put the game away with a 10-0 run fueled by the bench to open the fourth quarter.

"Just a good win," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "Gave our starters time to rest in the fourth quarter. Lot of good play off the bench. Guys were moving the ball and looking for each other. That's progress and hopefully we can continue to build off a game like tonight."

The Washington loss was one of seven in a row for Sacramento before a pair of victories over Oklahoma City and Philadelphia last week. The Kings opened their three-game road swing with a 118-91 loss at the New York Knicks.
Kristaps Porzingis scored 34 for New York, which closed the first half with a 21-7 run for a 64-49 halftime lead and pushed the margin to 30.

"We made a couple of shots, and they didn't score the first three or four possessions, but after that it was a runaway train and we were running in mud for most of the first half," Kings coach Dave Joerger said.

Skal Labissiere had 19 points off the bench for Sacramento. Another reserve, Buddy Hield, added 17 points as none of Sacramento's starters reached double figures.

"We just didn't have enough life," Joerger said. "They made us play and their starters had 80 (points) and ours had 31 and they started each half really strong."

Washington opened the initial meeting with a 13-0 run as John Wall sank three 3-pointers in the spurt. The Wizards led 63-32 at halftime and finished 17 of 34 on 3-point attempts.

Wall scored 13 points against the Hawks despite an illness and a debilitating migraine headache earlier in the day.

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