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December 14, 2020 10:28 am

‘Happy Hanukkah!’: Israeli Hoopster Avdija Drops 15 Points in First NBA Action

avatar by Barney Breen-Portnoy

The opening tip between the Brooklyn Nets and Washington Wizards, at Barclays Center, in Brooklyn, New York, Dec. 13, 2020. Photo: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports.

Israeli hoopster Deni Avdija made a strong impression in his first NBA action on Sunday, scoring 15 points and pulling down four rebounds for the Washington Wizards in a preseason matchup with the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center in New York City.

The 19-year-old small forward — who was drafted ninth overall by the Wizards last month — did not look to be intimidated to be on the same court with NBA All-Stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, both of whom suited up for the Nets.

Just under three-and-a-half minutes into the opening quarter, the 6-foot-9 Avdija — who was in Washington’s starting five — took a pass from point guard Raul Neto and calmly drilled a three-pointer, his first of three treys on the night, prompting a “Happy Hanukkah!” exclamation from Wizards television announcer Justin Kutcher.

Avdija also turned heads with a one-footed running floater from the top of the key as the halftime buzzer sounded.

The former Maccabi Tel Aviv star was a perfect six-for-six from the floor during his 24 minutes of playing time and also dished out two assists.

After trailing by as many as 26 points in the first half, the Wizards fought back to make it a close game late, but the Nets ended up eking out a 119-114 victory.

On Friday, the Wizards opened a Hebrew-language Twitter account featuring Avdija.

The Wizards have two more preseason games this week — both at home against the Detroit Pistons — before the regular season gets underway next Wednesday with a road showdown with the Philadelphia 76ers.

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