With the exception of an early two-minute window, Washington dominated the first half, playing energized on the defensive end and controlling the interior. The Wizards made their first five field-goal attempts in racing to an 11-6 lead.
But just as quickly, the shots quit falling and New Orleans took advantage, outscoring the Wizards 14-1 in a little more than two minutes to take a 20-12 lead with 4:21 left in the quarter. The Pelicans defense effectively sealed off the middle during the run, forcing Washington to settle for looks from the perimeter.
However, New Orleans’ spurt proved to be an early tease for the fans. The Wizards closed the quarter on a 16-8 run to tie the score at 28 and opened the second on a 12-0 run. Martell Webster’s 3-pointer gave the Wizards a 40-28 with 7:55 remaining in the quarter.
During that stretch, the Pelicans missed four shots and committed two turnovers. Washington closed the half on a 21-16 run to take a 61-44 lead.
“We were a little bit tired,” Pelicans center Alexis Ajinca said. “Sometimes it’s in the head, sometimes it’s in the legs. Tonight. it was a little bit of both.”