I'm pretty tired right now. It's been a long day, and I just pulled a back-to-back after a similar late night last night. I'm also battling recurring back pain, so I really needed to push myself through this recap. And push myself I shall, because the Wizards pushed themselves against the Clippers when they could have rolled over.
Still, it wasn't enough. The deficit was too large, the flow disrupted by an odd coaching decision to intentionally foul DeAndre Jordan. After cutting the Clippers' double-digit lead down to one, the Wizards ran out of gas, falling, 110-103. Hopefully this recap does not mirror that ending.
I'd have excused the Wizards for slinking away once the Clippers built a 16-point lead midway through the third quarter. Led by a punishing Blake Griffin and a racehorse pace, the Clippers were about to run the Wizards out of the gym. Instead, John Wall commandeered a bigger portion of the offense and the defense stepped up to its Warriors game level, getting arms in passing and dribbling lanes, forcing turnovers and making things miserable.
That comeback continued early in the fourth quarter, thanks to inspired attacking from Bradley Beal and a renewed push once he had to sit because of his minutes limit. With the Clippers up seven, Wall jumped right in and froze the Clippers' D on a three-point play. A possession later, Wall found Nene for a mid-range jumper to cut the Clippers' lead back to two. There were chances to pull even -- a Wall three eerily similar to the Golden State dagger that would have tied the game missed. But the Wizards cut the lead back to one twice, the second time on a Kevin Seraphin layup.
Sadly, that's as close as it'd get, thanks in large part to Randy Wittman's decision to intentionally foul Jordan with the Wizards down three and 2:21 remaining. You can haggle about the analytics of this decision -- as a 40-percent shooter, Jordan is right at the line where the math says you're more likely to allow fewer points per possession putting the ball in his hands than actually playing defense.
But to me, irrespective of the math, it demonstrated a lack of trust in the defense that helped the Wizards get back into the game. It's not like the Wizards weren't getting stops, and in fact, they were often using their defense to create offense. Why kill the flow that you built in rallying? Haralabos Voulgaris said it better than I could.
Washington held the Clips to 19 points in the 3q they were defending well. The problem with Hack a X - its demoralizing when it fails (cont)— Haralabos Voulgaris (@haralabob) January 30, 2014
Its that much harder to score against a set defense after a FT - Wasn’t a fan of this decision at all, even if he went 0-4— Haralabos Voulgaris (@haralabob) January 30, 2014
The math on that hack a DJ was correct if they played the game in a vacuum.— Haralabos Voulgaris (@haralabob) January 30, 2014
Washington held GSW to 38 pts in the 2h - held LAC to 19 in 3q tonight. Their D was settling in, fouling had a lot of meta game downside— Haralabos Voulgaris (@haralabob) January 30, 2014
Obviously, you know the outcome. Jordan hit two free throws, Beal somehow missed two of his own and then DeAndre hit two more to push a three-point lead to seven. That pretty much sealed it.
Unlike other expeditions to get over .500, I have few complaints about this one beyond Wittman's decision late. The Wizards played hard, didn't fold when they could have and pushed an elite team to the limit. Still, a loss is a loss, and it very well could have been a win if they woke up sooner or if Wittman let the game runs its natural course.
- I was really happy to see Beal's aggressiveness, especially to begin the fourth quarter. He made quick decisive moves to the hoop, and while he didn't always finish, he sometimes found people with the pass or tilted things enough for someone else to clean up the miss. Even if he doesn't seal the deal, he has to attack.
- Verrrrryyyy interesting to see Seraphin in the game late instead of Marcin Gortat. I thought Gortat did a pretty solid job protecting the rim, but he let Jordan get too many offensive rebounds, so I understood Wittman's call there.
- It took way too long to put the offense in Wall's hands in that third quarter. The Wizards kept pounding the post with Nene and Gortat, but all that did was kill the offense's flow. I totally get that there are still games where Wall is wild and something as tried and true as posting up is useful to regain control, but this game wasn't it.
- Blake Griffin may be a jerk, but he controlled this game in so many ways. Dude's an unbelievable player.
- We talk a lot about the value of shot creators, an area the Wizards are deficient. You can look no further than the Clippers for more evidence of this. Several Wizards runs were stopped by great individual plays from Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick, and the Clippers wouldn't have won without those. (And yes, I call Redick a shot creator because his off-ball movement is just as impactful as shooting off the dribble. Point is: he's no mere spot-up shooter.
- Wizards vs. Clippers final score: Washington runs out of gas in 110-103 defeat
- Bradley Beal named to Rising Stars Challenge, Otto Porter left out
- H2Owned: How John Wall and the Wizards' defense iced the Splash Brothers
- Magical Pixels, Wizards vs. Warriors: Washington wins, because why not?
- Wizards vs. Clippers preview: Can Washington do it again?