- The Washington Times - Monday, November 12, 2018

Before the season began, Bradley Beal likened Jeff Green to LeBron James in terms of their similar athleticism. No one is saying Green is a once-in-a-generation talent like James, but maybe Dwight Howard has a better comparison for the veteran forward.

“I call him George Gervin,” Howard said. “He’s got the big hands, finish around the basket.”

Green scored 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and shot 6-for-7 from the field with four 3-pointers, powering the Washington Wizards to a 117-109 win over the Orlando Magic Monday night at Capital One Arena.

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The game was tied after the first, second and third quarters, but Green was everywhere in the fourth. He sank two 3-pointers, received a John Wall assist for an alley-oop dunk, blocked a shot and grabbed four rebounds.

His effort helped Washington pull away. After the alley-oop, Wall scored Washington’s next seven points and Bradley Beal later hit a dagger 3-pointer to put it to bed.

Wall led the Wizards with 25 points and 10 assists. Beal had 21 points and Howard posted 17. Three Wizards grabbed eight rebounds apiece.

The Wizards (4-9) responded after losing in Orlando Friday night. Coupled with Saturday’s win in Miami, the Wizards have won back-to-back games for the first time since March, which coach Scott Brooks chalked up to improved defense.

“(We can’t) just go out there and just expect to score 130 points and win,” Brooks said. “We gotta defend, and the last two games is the runway you have to approach the opponent. A defensive mindset.”

“We communicated,” Green added on the topic. “We were in the right spots to get spots toward the end of the game, and we helped each other.”

The Wizards also knocked down 13 of 33 3-pointers, out-scored Orlando in the paint 46-38 and won on the glass 41-34.

After a 30-30 tie at the end of the first quarter, the Wizards‘ second unit — which included center Ian Mahinmi after his brief spell out of the rotation ended Saturday — started the second and got Washington ahead by as many as six.

Green later said that although the second unit struggled with cohesion to start the season, nothing has changed about their approach to playing together.

“Everybody’s in attack mode,” Green said. “Kelly’s been great. Now we’re making shots, we’re starting to get it together on the defensive end. We’re still playing the same way. Things are starting to just fall in place for us.”

But the margin of six ended up being the largest lead for either team in the half. Both teams finished with seven 3-pointers and entered halftime locked at 55.

Orlando finally got separation by piecing together a 9-0 run midway through the third quarter, going up by 10. But the Wizards responded after a timeout as Beal powered a 15-2 run. In that span, Beal tallied seven points and an assist, punctuated by a steal and breakaway dunk that put Washington ahead.

For the first several minutes of the fourth quarter, which started at an 83-83 tie, it was Green’s turn to take over.

“I think (Green) had an overall good game on offense and defense,” Howard said. “He had big threes early in the game, and him rolling to the basket is tough to guard, especially with the way he gets off the floor.”

Brooks complimented Green’s leadership and experience producing for playoff teams like last year’s Cleveland Cavaliers.

“It’s not every night he’s gonna shoot 4-for-5 from three, but he’s starting to get a little bit of rhythm from the 3-point line and we need that from him,” Brooks said. “We need his all-around play. He can guard just about everybody on the floor.”

Green finished with a game-high plus-13 rating. Austin Rivers and Kelly Oubre Jr. each had plus-12s, showing off the second unit’s success.

Green nearly matched Otto Porter Jr. in playing time (21 minutes to 22), and his offensive output filled in a gap left by Porter (six points) and Oubre (one point).

But in Rivers’ view, that won’t be a problem as long as they sustain the collective defensive effort.

“We’re gonna score the ball. We have plenty of scorers,” Rivers said. “Every night it’s gonna be someone different, but our defensive intensity has to be consistent. I thought that’s what it was tonight.”

The Wizards‘ homestand continues Wednesday when they face the Cavaliers.

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