A putrid second half doomed the Washington Wizards as they lost at home to the Charlotte Hornets, 96-86 Washington came out like gangbusters, shooting 54 percent in the first half and jumping out to a 14 point lead, but largely fell apart after Paul Pierce left the game with a knee injury. Even though Pierce would return in the third quarter before leaving for good, the Wizards never re-established their groove and couldn't buy a bucket during the second half in general and the fourth quarter in particular.
Washington was competitive until a 22-3 run by the Hornets to start the fourth quarter sealed the Wizards' fate. Poor luck combined with poor execution of the team's schemes hurt the Wizards, then a lineup shift that saw guys like Kevin Seraphin, DeJuan Blair and Rasual Butler take the floor with Andre Miller was the final nail in the coffin.
The Wizards are now 4-2 during the pre-season, with the New York Knicks next up on the schedule.
3 Things We Learned
1. Paul Pierce got hurt ... but he should be OK
Pierce tweaked or hyperextended his knee in the second quarter while Washington was still ahead. It's hard to tell how Pierce's health is sometimes due to his herky jerky playing style, but he appeared to be fine when he returned.
It's crucial that Washington get a healthy Pierce for as much of the season as possible. Pierce has already done so much to open up Washington's offense. Even without Bradley Beal on the floor, the big men have more dive lanes and John Wall has more freedom to probe the defense due to Pierce's ability to draw attention from the defense, even without the ball. Even if some of the respect he gets from defense's is based on reputation more than ability, at the very least he's going to draw opposing teams' best defenders night in and night out, preventing players like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist from having free reign to play the passing lanes the way.
Washington's Offense Can Be Terrible
Otto Porter is continuing to come into his own.
If there was a silver lining to tonight's game, it's that Otto Porter continued to look like he's for real. Porter was active on both ends of the court, deflecting passes and cutting to the rim for layups in spite of sterling defense from Charlotte's Kidd-Gilchrist for most of the game. That's exactly what the team needs from him this year. He can be almost Nene-like in terms of his ability to improve his team's efficiency by working to create easy baskets and moving the ball. He finished with eight points, three rebounds and three steals in addition to this sick chase down block.
What did you guys see?