NEW ORLEANS — With his starting point guard, John Wall, and his backup, A.J. Price, sidelined by injuries, Washington Wizards coach Randy Wittman brought out his fifth different starting lineup in 17 games. Tuesday night, Jordan Crawford got the start against the New Orleans Hornets.
Crawford delivered in the clutch, with a 12-point fourth-quarter performance that helped the Wizards pull off their first road victory of the season, 77-70.
Neither Wall, Price or injured forward Trevor Ariza made the trip to New Orleans, making the Wizards bench look pretty sparse. They also got off to their worst start of the 2012-13 campaign, posting season lows of 11 points in the first quarter and a 36 in the first half.
"That first quarter, I thought I was getting my teeth pulled at the dentist without any Novocaine," Wittman joked. "It was pretty painful. Coming in at halftime, our guys felt good. We were down at the half and we hadn't really played well at all offensively. We said, 'Hey, it's going to click offensively. We just have to keep our defense going.' "
They did, and the tide began to turn. The Wizards turned in one of their better defensive performances, giving their offense a chance to do just enough to win the low-scoring contest.
The Wizards didn't take their first lead of the game until just under nine minutes to play in the fourth quarter, 63-62. As they began to gain momentum, the Hornets faded. In a dismal offensive showing by both teams, the Wizards shot just 32.9 percent to the Hornets 32.5.
The win improves Washington to 3-15 and drops New Orleans to 5-15.
Crawford led all scorers with 26 and Bradley Beal added 15 points and seven rebounds. Nene, who had his first double-double of the season, had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
"It was a fight all game long," Crawford said. "I just really wanted to do everything it took to win. I didn't care how many shots I shot, turnovers, nothing, I just wanted to do whatever it took to win."
Crawford singlehandedly outscored the Hornets in the fourth quarter, 12-10. Now the team's starting point guard, Crawford has the dual burden of running the team and being the first offensive option.
"It was different playing the point at the beginning of the game," Crawford said. "I was thinking about different stuff, but once I got into the game and once I seen what the team needed I got comfortable."
For the Hornets, Ryan Anderson had the hot hand early with 17 points in the first half, but was held scoreless after halftime. Rookies Austin Rivers (11) and Anthony Davis (13) were the only other players in double figures for the Hornets, who are on their first night of a back-to-back. They host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday.
The Wizards, also on night one of a back-to-back, will play again Wednesday against the Houston Rockets, who fell to 9-12 after an overtime loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Monday.
"In the second half we play more together, we passed the ball more," Nene said. "The penetration, the fouls ... the guys make good shots outside we got the offensive rebounds. We shut down them, shut down the three-point option. That's how we won the game."
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