In a rematch of last week’s loss in Los Angeles, the Wizards once again found themselves on the losing end of a 135-119 contest with the Clippers.
The Wizards, in a game of runs, relied on bench play to remain within striking distance of the Clippers for a majority of the game. Davis Bertans tying his season-high with 25 points on 7-of-13 shooting (6-of-12 from beyond the arc) and Troy Brown Jr. delivering a career-high 22 points off the bench was not enough to overtake the Kawhi Leonard and Paul George pairing. The Los Angeles duo accounted for 61 points combined.
Bradley Beal struggled to find the bottom of the net in the first half, with the Clippers sending double-teams his way. Despite the defensive pressure, Beal led starters with 20 points on 5-of-18 shooting. Rui Hachimura, on the other hand, provided 17 points (5-of-14 shooting), 7 rebounds and 4 assists.
It’s Not How You Start…
Right out of the gate, the Wizards fell to a nine-point deficit and allowed both Leonard and George to reach double-digit scoring in the first quarter. Down ten points entering the second quarter, the Wizards slowly chipped away at the lead and eventually strung together an 11-0 run to acquire their first lead of the game. After trading buckets for the rest of the quarter, the Wizards trailed by one at the half.
As if on cue, a 17-5 Clippers run met the Wizards coming out of the locker room in the second half and eliminated all gains made in the previous quarter. The Wizards did not see their first field goal of the second half until roughly eight minutes remaining in the third quarter. Once more, it was up to the bench to salvage what they could, cutting the lead to seven entering the fourth quarter.
Staying relatively close in the fourth, Beal knocked down his first three-pointer of the night to pull the Wizards within four with roughly six minutes to go. However, the comeback would end there with Leonard and Montrezl Harrell icing the game by scoring a combined 17 points down the stretch in a 22-10 run for the Clippers.
What Can We Takeaway?
Unfortunately for the Wizards, their defensive woes continue to undermine their scoring efforts on the other side of the ball. Entering this game, the Wizards averaged 118.1 points per game. That is the fourth-highest total throughout the entire NBA. For those wondering where they rank in terms of points allowed, that would be 30th (out of 30 teams) with 122.5 points per game. While discouraging, it’s important to recognize two points here. First, these defensive struggles are growing pains of a young roster and each game offers an opportunity to improve. Secondly, for the time being, the Wizards are without starting center Thomas Bryant, who should provide some relief for depth upon his return. Sheer optimists would say there’s nowhere to go but up at this point.
With this loss, the Wizards (7-15) have now dropped five of their last six games. They look to get back on track this Tuesday during a trip to Charlotte to take on the Hornets (9-16). The last time these teams met was Nov. 22 in Washington, where the Wizards rallied for a 125-118 victory.