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NBA Preview: Fading New Orleans Pelicans travel to face surging Washington Wizards

The league’s hottest team: John Wall’s squad has won 13 of their last 15 games and 16 straight at home.

Portland Trail Blazers v Washington Wizards Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Way back in 1687, Sir Issac Newton published his three laws of motion. His third law states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Some people think that’s about science and how force makes objects move. Those people are wrong because Newton’s third law of motion is actually about what happens when two NBA teams heading in opposite directions get together on a court. Look it up.

Case in point, contemplate how the new year has treated both the Pelicans and the Wizards. From the start of January, only the Warriors can say they’ve won more games than Washington. Perhaps more impressively, the Wizards are on a current 16-game home winning streak.

Here’s a list of all the good work the Wizards have done since the start of January and where it ranks among the rest of the league.

  • Points: 109.8 (2nd)
  • Field Goal Percentage: 49.0 (3rd)
  • Three Point Percentage: 39.1 (5th)
  • Rebounding: 44.8 (5th)
  • Assists: 25.3 (6th)
  • Steals: 8.2 (8th)
  • Point Differential: +6.8 (3rd)

You could look up what the Pelicans rank during that timespan (5-10) or set yourself on fire because there’s not much difference in the two and frankly fire might be less painful than watching trainwreck after trainwreck.

The Wizards’ win streak came at a most opportune time considering the recent struggles that Cleveland, Toronto and Boston have endured. Washington’s worked their way up from flirting with missing the playoffs to the current 4th-seed in the East and are only two games behind the Celtics for the second seed.

When you talk about the Wizards, the conversation has to start with John Wall. The now four-time All-Star is playing the best basketball of his career, scoring a personal best 22 points a game while handing out 10 assists a night. His three point shot, after a career-high 35 percent last season, has regressed some (32%), but Wall’s shooting from elsewhere on the floor — 49.2% percent from 2-pt range and 81.4% from the free throw line — are career highs.

It isn’t just John Wall reaching new levels of basketball excellence, however. Bradley Beal is also enjoying the best, and healthiest, season of his five-year career. Beal’s scoring 22 points a game, which is by far the best he’s ever done in the league and, like his backcourt counterpart Wall, Beal’s shot is falling at a more consistent rate than ever before at 46 percent. Shooting’s never been the question with Bradley Beal, health has and so far Beal’s been blessed with a fairly healthy season; of the 48 games the Wizards have played in, Beal’s started 44. After missing 46 games the past two seasons, Beal’s on track to play the most games since possibly 2013-14 when he appeared in 73 contests.

Even Otto Porter has seemingly made the leap and is playing excellent complementary ball next to Wall and Beal. Like his starting backcourt mates, Porter is also posting career best numbers in scoring and shooting, thanks to the astounding strides made with his three-point shot. Porter entered the 2016-17 campaign a career 34.5 percent shooter, but this year he’s hit 46.3 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.

While this 13-2 run the Wizards are on, it’s hard to get a feel for if the team is peaking or if they just feasted on a weak portion on their schedule. By my count, of the 14 wins the Wizards have racked up since January 1, only four have come against team at or above .500. Sure you can only beat who’s in front of you, but am I supposed to be wowed that Washington beat the likes of Philadelphia, New York, Brooklyn and these Pelicans?

Or hey, maybe I’m just a hater and jealous that my team can’t win 14 games out of 17. Yeah, that’s probably it.

What: Pelicans at Wizards

Where: Verizon Center - Washington D.C.

When: February 4th, 2017 at 6:00 PM Central

How: Fox Sports New Orleans, Comcast Sports Mid-Atlantic, 99.5 FM WRNO