Wizards’ ‘New Big 3’ finds its groove in front of its former Big 3

Wizards’ ‘New Big 3’ finds groove in front of classic trio originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

One of the most iconic shots in Washington Wizards history was Gilbert Arenas’ game-winner in Chicago vs. the Bulls in Game 5 of the first round of the 2005 playoffs.

Perhaps it was poetic, then, that Washington offered a similar sense of drama vs. the Miami Heat on Friday during a reunion of the classic ‘Big 3’ of Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison. At one point down by 15, the Wizards stormed back to win by one point in overtime.

The dagger of the contest was a corner three by Kyle Kuzma with just seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game.

“I’m always in the mentality of ‘get rich or die trying,’” Kuzma said postgame. “If you miss 10, just keep shooting, eventually it’ll fall if you trust it. I put a lot of work in and just believed in my jump shot, and it finally just paid off for me at the right time.”

Did he know that shot was going in when it left his hands?

“That one, I knew that was good. Only that one, though. That’s about it.”

Kuzma indeed hit the right shot at the right time, but it wasn’t his norm on the night. He shot just 9-of-24 from the field but had 21 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

His cohorts iced the game for Washington in a much-needed win after letting one slip from their grasp vs. Oklahoma City on Wednesday. Kuzma, Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis are quickly shaping up to be D.C.’s newest version of a ‘Big 3.’

It’s surely too early to equate the current trio’s impact to that of Arenas, Butler and Jamison. After all, Beal, Porzingis and Kuzma have only shared the court for about a dozen games thus far due to injuries and health and safety protocols. But when they are on the court together—even against an extremely depleted Heat squad—their potential is visible.

“We could not drop a game like this, obviously,” Porzingis said postgame. “They only had seven guys, but as I was saying, it’s really hard to play against teams like this because they play free, they were playing super random…we gave them life. They were leading most of the game and it got tough for us but Kuz hit that huge shot and kinda saved all of us.”

Porzingis has been arguably the Wizards’ best player this season, appearing unguardable at times when working at the high post and shooting over the top of shorter defenders. He’s a three-level threat who finished with 20 points, five assists and 17 rebounds, which was one short of tying his season high.

Porzingis was the workhorse of Washington’s four-game win streak when Beal was sidelined due to health protocols. In his second game back, Beal struggled with turnovers but still scored a team-high 27 points to go along with eight rebounds.

“I’d have to look at the film, I would think it’s more rust [causing Beal’s turnovers],” head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said postgame. “I think the vast majority of the turnovers were just errant passes, just not on time or on target…in general, I’d say most of them were controllable.”

What we saw from the Wizards’ ‘New Big 3,’ if that moniker sticks, was very encouraging. Combining for 68 of Washington's 107 points on the night, they're the engine driving the team.

The trio is still in their infant stages of playing together, but their combined offensive arsenal is undeniable. As they move forward this season, developing their chemistry even further will be key.