Deni Avdija, Washington Wizards

Doncic & co. win thriller, spoil Avdija's big night

The lowly Wizards were up most of the game only to blow it in the fourth, as Doncic and Irving dropped 26 pts apiece.

Deni Avdija starring for Maccabi Tel Aviv (Photo: Shutterstock)

You never know how an Israeli kid who grew up admiring the likes of Moshe Dayan and Golda Meir is going to react when he goes up against a guy (this one happens to be perennial All Star and former NBA champion, Kyrie Irving) who was fined and suspended after tweeting a reference to a song by the Black Hebrews, an antisemitic group that claims to represent the "real Jews" last year and sported a kaffiyeh (the traditional pan-Arabic head garb often used in support of Hamas) at a press conference following one of his team's games just as tensions were heating up in Gaza following the Oct. 9 massacre.

A lot of the league's elder statesmen might not have shown the same maturity and poise that 23-year-old Deni paraded throughout the matchup, on his way to a career night featuring 25 points and seven rebounds alongside three assists. Avdija had an all-around stellar performance, slicing through the lane on his way to easy layups, fighting for the ball on every possession, and helping the Wizards control the pace early on.

He was outdone by Luka Doncic, however, who came up big just in the nick of time, as Dallas was held to just 78 points heading into the final period. Luka pulled another rabbit out of a hat - which has become the standard for the 6th season Slovenian phenom and 5-time All Star, currently leading the league with an incredible 34.3 points/game.

The Mavs, who trailed by ten heading into the fourth, got off to a 19-8 run to open the period and never looked back despite Washington keeping it close all the way till the final whistle. When Doncic wasn't scoring himself, he was finding teammates who came to life in money time.

Dallas led 106-100 with 3:11 remaining in regulation and never trailed again before closing the game. They will host San Antonio Thursday, before heading into All Star weekend to be hosted in Indianapolis from Feb. 16-18th.

As far as Washington and Avdija, Deni now looks to be the Wizard's go-to playmaker, as the much-touted Jordan Poole continues to recede into the twilight and the team simply lacks the talent to compete in this league.

Avdija, meantime, has continued voicing his support for Israel in this difficult time, sporting the Star of David and taking every opportunity to tell the world about Israel's right to fend for itself in a very unfriendly neighborhood of the world.


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