This is starting to become an ugly trend for the Wizards this season. Coming into the game, the Wizards had a record of 0-3 coming off more than three days of rest, and tonight, that record stretched to 0-4. Thanks to a sluggish defensive effort riddled with senseless fouls and poor interior play, the Wizards dropped to 12-14 on the season with a 120-98 loss on the road to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
And, to top it off, Bradley Beal had to be helped off the floor by two teammates after colliding with Luc Mbah a Moute late in the fourth quarter of a 24-point game. This is the big story, of course. Here's the latest on that, and here's Beal getting carried off.
As for the game itself, these kinds of performances are a big problem for a team so concerned about making the playoffs. They just couldn't get anything going offensively because of some really poor defensive breakdowns on both levels of the floor. On the perimeter, the wings haplessly let their man stroll into the paint, and once they were beat, they committed fouls, which resulted in stretches of seven or eight minutes of the Wolves being in the bonus. But that's not an excuse for their bigs, who gave up an outstanding 48 points in the paint and really had no chance against the frontcourt of Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic.
Outside of John Wall, the Wizards could not generate any offense, and even then, he scored just four points in the second half. The team attempted just 17 free throws on the night, and against a team so focused on shutting off the paint, they couldn't get their outside shooting going.
Things don't get much easier as the Wizards host the Pistons and their massive frontcourt in Washington tomorrow night. Best wishes to Brad.
Here are my game notes:
- The Wizards finally got to the free throw line over three minutes into the second quarter and it really isn't hard to see why they continued to struggle offensively. Beal's issues getting to the hoop are well documented, but Wall himself continues to have a hard time finding the balance in his shot selection. He's taking almost four threes a game, but it hasn't come at the expense of his midrange looks as one would expect. Structurally this is a team bereft of ball handlers outside of Wall, and the offensive system really doesn't put them in positions to score efficiently.
- Minnesota's pack-the-paint strategy is something to look out for in the coming weeks. Gortat was met by a help defender camping in the lane each time he rolled to the basket, and Wall simply had no passing lanes to work with. Washington is fourth in three-point efficiency, but are just 24th in attempts because they pick and choose their spots so deliberately. Teams just aren't respecting their outside shooting as much as the numbers suggest.
- The Wizards got killed in the first half on the boards, and it was all due to effort. Ricky Rubio snatched down an offensive rebound in traffic because Wall failed to box him out, and Gortat continued to get beat down low by Pekovic because he failed to put a body on him.
- The wings gave up a lot of dribble penetration tonight. They aggressively attacked closeouts, and ball-watched a ton against Rubio. Getting into the penalty early in both the second and third quarters killed the flow of this game.
- It's not time to panic just yet on Otto Porter, but he definitely has to start producing when he's given 12 minutes of playing time. He attempted just two shots, allowed J.J. Barea to drive right past him to the hoop, and generally just floated along the perimeter. He has to show more than that.