Kristaps Porzingis' career-high a point of celebration for Wizards teammates

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Teammates thrilled for Porzingis' career-high originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

WASHINGTON -- The Wizards were up by 22 points with 5:03 remaining in the fourth quarter when head coach Wes Unseld Jr. had a decision to make. The Timberwolves had called a timeout and out of the huddle Unseld Jr. could have emptied his bench, making the judgment call that the game was safely in hand.

According to Kristaps Porzingis, that's when Kyle Kuzma chimed in.

"Kuz was like 'no, you've gotta get your career-high,'" Porzingis recalled.

Moments later, driving across the perimeter on a fastbreak, Kuzma looked to his right and found Porzingis for a handoff, paving the way for Porzingis to charge to the rim and score through contact. He made the basket and then a free throw, securing a career-high 41 points.

Then it was time for Unseld Jr. to sub his starters out. As he did, Corey Kispert danced as Porzingis walked toward him. After the game, as Bradley Beal was giving Porzingis the team's honorary defensive player of the game belt, Porzingis noticed Rui Hachimura with a "cheeky smile."

His suspicions were correct, Hachimura and the Wizards were up to something. As he took the belt, they all doused him with bottled water, yet another celebration of his big night.

Porzingis was the key ingredient to a blowout 142-127 win over Minnesota and his teammates were thrilled to see him have his moment.

"It's always fun when you can get somebody a career night," Kuzma said. "It's very, very hard to play in this league, it's very hard to do anything in this league. Any time a player can have a career-high, it means a lot to them and as a player, you understand how much it means."

"I think it's an indication of this group in general that they're going to pull for each other... The more you see that, that's the hallmark of good teams, breathing life and confidence into your teammates," Unseld Jr. said.

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Porzingis was an absolute force in Monday's win. He had 41 points in only 31 minutes and on only 18 shots. He went 12-for-18 from the field, 6-for-10 from three and 11-for-11 from the free throw line. He also added three blocks and two steals.

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Porzingis scored 29 points in the first half alone, a career-high for him in a single half. He lit a spark early with four threes in the first four minutes. That set the course for the Wizards' big offensive night overall and it was the result of a specific strategy.

With Porzingis opposite Rudy Gobert, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year, on Minnesota, the Wizards wanted to pull him away from his comfort zone in the paint. After that, Gobert had to track Porzingis all over the floor, clearing the lane for others to attack the basket.

"Once I saw that ball go in, I mean I was in a good rhythm. My teammates just kept finding me pretty open throughout the game. I just knocked them down," Porzingis said of his early threes.

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Porzingis led the way with his 41 points, but the Wizards had a big night overall on the offensive end. They made 15-of-31 from three, good for 48.4%. They only had seven turnovers themselves, while converting 18 Timberwolves turnovers into 29 points.

Kuzma had 23 points and nine assists, while Beal had 22 points and five assists. Washington scored 142 points, shooting 57.1% from the field.

It was an example of what the Wizards' offense is capable of when it's firing on all cylinders. And Porzingis showed what he can do when he really gets going. Even Gobert, one of the most decorated defensive players of all time, had no answers.