WASHINGTON — Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry was told by a reporter before tipoff of Tuesday's game that the Wizards backcourt combination of John Wall and Bradley Beal like to play at a very fast pace.
“That’s a minor understatement,” Gentry said with a grin.
Gentry was not laughing afterward. Wall had 18 points and 10 assists and Beal chipped in with 26 points as Washington defeated New Orleans 116-106 to begin a three-game Eastern road trip for the Pelicans.
Reserve Mike Scott added 24 points for Washington, which placed all five starters in double figures by the start of the fourth quarter.
The Wizards improved to 17-14 while New Orleans fell to 15-16. The Pelicans lost their second straight game in a row and third in their last four.
There could have been worse news for the Pelicans. Anthony Davis, who had 22 points in the first half and 37 overall, came down with a right wrist injury in the first half. He was questionable to return after halftime but he came back and scored on a layup to trim the Washington lead to 73-66 with 7:10 left in the third quarter.
The Pelicans trailed 36-19 after the first quarter as Wall had 14 points and six assists.
“A one-man fast break,” Gentry, who picked up a technical in the second quarter, said of Wall.
New Orleans was also paced by DeMarcus Cousins, who had 11 of his 26 points in the first quarter. The Pelicans trailed by 25 points late in the second quarter before trimming the margin to 61-55 at intermission.
The Pelicans tied the score at 61 early in the third quarter but the Wizards zoomed back ahead 68-61, forcing Gentry to use another timeout.
Washington guard Beal appeared to roll his ankle while alone in the backcourt with 4:08 left in the third quarter with his team ahead 75-66.
Soon after that Beal had a dunk and then he hit a 3-pointer late in the third quarter, as the Pelicans trailed 93-70 going into the final frame. New Orleans trailed by 20 midway through the fourth quarter but could not mount another comeback.
Wizards center Marcin Gortat knew the inside battle would be tough against the Pelicans.
“It’s going to be a bloodbath, probably,” Gortat said before facing the inside duo of Cousins and Davis.
But the backcourt of the Wizards was too much for the Pelicans, who saw guard Rajon Rondo fell to the floor holding his left knee with 9:39 left in the first quarter but stayed in the game.
Cousins entered the game averaging 26.2 points and 12.2 rebounds while Davis was at 25.2 points and 10.6 boards. “I think we have a pretty good handle on it,” Gentry said before the game of using the 6-foot-11 Cousins and 6-10 Davis at the same time.
The Wizards went on an 11-0 run late in the first quarter to take a 27-13 lead as Wall passed to Gortat for a dunk to finish off the fastbreak. The Pelicans finally snapped the 14-0 run as Cousins scored inside.
The Pelicans shot just 33 percent in the first quarter and was outscored 11-2 on fastbreak points.
But reserve guards Jameer Nelson and Ian Clark brought some energy to the Pelicans in the second quarter, as New Orleans shot 44 percent from the field and dominated the boards in that period.
It could have been worse as Washington forward Otto Porter (hip) missed his third game in a row. He entered the game averaging 14.6 points per contest, the third-best mark on the team.