The good news for the Wizards is that LeBron, Anthony Davis, and the Los Angeles Lakers, who are currently riding a 10-game win streak, are no longer their concern. The Wizards lost 125-103 in a game that was not nearly as close as the score indicates.
The bad news? The equally formidable duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are next up when the Los Angeles Clippers take on the Wizards tonight from the Staples Center.
The Clippers figure to be in a rather foul mood against the Wizards after experiencing a less-than-desirable loss of their own at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs, 107-97. During that loss, Leonard shot just 8-of-23 and scored 19 points against his former team, while Paul George shot a putrid 2-for-11 from the floor and scored just five points. Even Lou Williams, Mr. Instant Offense himself, was held to just seven points on just 2-of-10 shooting.
To add insult to injury, after his post-game presser, Clippers Coach Doc Rivers was locked out of the locker room to which he responded, “Fitting, that’s the kind of night it’s been for us.” Clearly, the Clippers will be looking to return to their winning ways at the expense of the Wizards.
The Wizards and their high-powered offense went into the Lakers game second in points scored (118.5), third in field goal percentage (47.7-percent), seventh in 3-pointers made (13.1), and sixth in 3-point percentage (37.1 percent). Against the Lakers, the Wizards scored just 103 points on 39-percent from the field, they made just 10-of-37 3-pointers (29-percent). The only silver lining about their blowout loss, is that the Wizards are not likely to shoot that poorly again, even against a stellar defensive team like the Clippers.
The one distinct advantage the Wizards have consistently enjoyed against their opponents this season will not be in play against the Clippers. The Wizards bench is second in the NBA in scoring, averaging 48.4 points per game, thanks to contributions of Moe Wagner and Davis Bertans.
The Clippers, led by Lou Williams and Montezl Harrell, average a robust 52.4 points per game good for first in the NBA. Wagner and Bertans specialize in outside shooting from any and all angles. Williams is a threat to score 20 points in a quarter, while Harrell provides attitude, rebounding and endless energy.
As important as the bench is to the Wizards’ success, it is Bradley Beal who is truly their offensive catalyst, and he has not been consistently great as of late. In the Wizards’ last three losses, he’s averaged 17.3 points, 7.6 assists, and shot 36.5-percent from the field. Those numbers are far from pedestrian, but they are far short of what is expected from the leader of the team, who is also the owner of a max contract.
Conversely, in the Wizards last two victories, Beal has averaged 32.5 points and nine assists while shooting 56.5 percent from the field. In those two victories, Beal was assertive on offense, both behind the arc and going to the basket, which opened up offensive opportunities for his teammates. The Clippers will invariably throw Patrick Beverly, George and Leonard (provided he isn’t given the load management treatment) at Beal, but he will still need to find a way to maintain that sorely-needed aggressiveness.
One positive from what has been an otherwise challenging road trip is that coach Scott Brooks had his jersey retired by his alma mater, UC Irvine, on Saturday night. Brooks played for UC Irvine from 1985-87 and averaged just under 24 points-per-game his senior season. Congratulations, Coach!