Washington was in a good spot going into halftime, only trailing 57-54. Ideally you don’t want to be trailing at the half. However, Washington had a few players who were struggling to find their offensive rhythm.
Rui Hachimura, Thomas Bryant, and Troy Brown Jr struggled against Miami’s defense in the first half. But Miami is one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
Washington’s struggles on the offensive end carried over to the third quarter. The third quarter was a defensive battle that almost reminded you of 1990s basketball. Both Washington and Miami went through long stretches where they struggled to make shots.
Washington went on to outscore Miami 18-15 in the third quarter. In today’s era of highly efficient offense, a sub 20 point quarter looks very odd on the box score.
Unfortunately, things were about get worse for Washington. Miami built their lead up to double digits late in the fourth quarter. Washington has been able to rely on Beal’s scoring ability to dig themselves out of deficits. But Miami’s defense forced Beal to really work to get space for his shots.
A good majority of Beal’s shots down the stretch fell short, maybe an indicator of fatigue. Which is understandable, given the responsibility Beal has on the offensive end and the number of shots he often has to take.
However, when one player is receiving that much attention, it allows for other players to step up and knock down shots. But Washington as a team struggled all night on offense, and no one was able to make Miami pay for paying that much attention to Beal.
Miami’s defense and late offensive surge propelled them to a 100-89 victory.
Shabazz Napier’s excellent performance
Beal’s streak of 25 or more points came to an end, as he scored 23 points on 8 for 24 shooting. Davis Bertans scored 25 points off the bench on 8 for 15 shooting from the three point line.
However, the most notable performance for Washington came from Shabazz Napier. As the starting point guard, Napier scored 27 points and knocked down 4 three pointers. Napier was also in attack mode often, getting to the free throw line 14 times.
Wizard’s offense was unusually cold
Washington struggled to develop a rhythm offensively. Beal, Napier, and Bertans scored 75 of Washington’s 89 points. When three players scored more than 80% of a team’s points, that is a very bad sign.
Outside of Beal, Napier, and Bertans, no other Wizard scored more than 5 points. Hachimura didn’t score a single point, as Miami’s interior defense gave him problems.
Thomas Bryant was in foul trouble all game, and fouled out after scoring only 2 points. Troy Brown Jr played 30 minutes, but shot 1 for 8 from the field.
What’s next for the Wizards?
Washington will be back in action on Tuesday as they take on the New York Knicks at Capital One Arena.
The Orlando Magic have won two games in a row and still hold onto the eighth seed with a 29-35 record. Washington still holds on to the ninth seed with a 23-40 record.
With the Magic on a winning streak, it’s important for the Wizards to start stringing together win streaks of 3-4 games if they are going to take over that final playoff spot. But with Boston, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn coming up after Tuesday, it’s going to be tough.