Wizards' defense braces as Warriors roll into D.C

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The Golden State Warriors roll into Washington on Thursday night looking for their ninth straight win as they face the improving Wizards.

The Warriors (33-14) routed the Los Angeles Lakers 130-111 on Monday to avenge a Christmas night loss.

Center DeMarcus Cousins will play his third game since returning from the Achilles injury that sidelined him almost a year. Against the Lakers, Cousins had eight points on 2-for-9 shooting, with nine rebounds and five assists in 21 minutes.

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"I'm not coming out trying to be reserved or timid or anything like that," Cousins told reporters.

"I want to get back into the rhythm of things as fast as possible. I'm going to push my body to the limit as long as I'm out there and all that can do is help me with where I'm trying to go."

The Warriors, with three teams within five games of their lead in the Western Conference, are essentially acquiring an All-Star for the stretch run.

"Gives us a huge jolt," guard Klay Thompson told ESPN. "Let's get (the winning streak to) double digits; haven't done it all year. That would be real nice."

Against the Lakers, Thompson provided the jolt. In 26 minutes, he scored 44 points on 17-of-20 shooting, including 10 of 11 from 3-point range. He made his first 10 3-point tries to set an NBA record and became the first Warriors player in the shot clock era (since 1954-55) to score at least 40 points and shoot at least 85 percent from the field.

"Klay does that five or six times a season," Golden State coach Steve Kerr told the San Francisco Chronicle. "He just got red hot, white hot."

The Warriors are shooting 39.0 percent from 3-point range, second in the NBA, while the Wizards were 26th in the league at 33.8 percent through Tuesday's games.

Despite the absence of the Dwight Howard and John Wall, the Wizards (20-26) have won two straight and seven of 10 to stay in contention for a playoff spot in the East.

Washington is coming off its best defensive effort of the season, a 101-87 win over the Detroit Pistons on Monday. The Wizards held the Pistons to just 34 points in the opening half and led by as many as 20 before leading by 16 at the break.

"I thought the defense was outstanding on all parts of the game," head coach Scott Brooks said. "We got into the ball; we did a great job on pick-and-rolls. We rebounded the ball. We're really good ... we give ourselves a chance to win every night if we can win the rebounding game."

Seven reached double-figures with Trevor Ariza (20 points, 12 rebounds) and Otto Porter Jr. (19 points) leading the way. Ariza, who joined the Wizards in mid-December, has contributed at both ends of the floor.

"Trevor, I knew he was a good spot-up shooter," Brooks told the Washington Post. "I didn't know he was a good all-around player like he is. You don't know really until you coach a guy, night in and night out."

Porter has excelled against the Warriors in recent games. Last season he scored 29 points or more against them twice. And in five games versus Golden State going back to February 2017, he's averaging 19.4 points.

The Warriors defeated the visiting Wizards 144-122 on Oct. 24.

--Field Level Media

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