Well, at least it was close(?). That's about all that can be said about Monday's game between the Wizards and Hornets.
Washington's offense sputtered, and despite discussions prior to the game of various injuries, the Wizards took a fairly healthy team into a game at home and only mustered 88 points, losing 92-88.
Kevin Seraphin and John Wall were both questionable for this one, but they both played. Instead, Andre Miller and Martell Webster sat out, while the Hornets were once again missing starting point guard Kemba Walker.
The Wizards have now lost five of their past seven games, including three in a row, and haven't scored 100 points in a four-quarter game since Jan. 19 against the Philadelphia 76ers.
It wasn't all bad, though. The defense stepped up once again and was tough at the end of the game, at least giving the Wiz the opportunity to claw back in the final two minutes, and Bradley Beal has now strung two great back-to-back games together.
Here's what we learned in the end:
John Wall isn't 100 percent
With Walker out, Brian Roberts was the starting point guard for the Hornets and played 34 minutes. The same Brian Roberts that has a career defensive rating of 112 and has just 1.1 career defensive win shares, according to Basketball-Reference.com. This should have been an easy matchup for Wall.
Instead, he looked slow at times, and finished the game shooting 4-for-14 from the floor and had 10 assists and four turnovers. It's great to see him log another double-double (Wall salvaged his scoring night by going 7-for-7 from the charity stripe) but Wall is clearly the better guard in this matchup, and he should have had a much better shooting night.
In the final seconds, with the Wizards down by three, Wall came off a screen from Marcin Gortat and had a one-on-one opportunity against Cody Zeller with a lane to the hoop. And he missed the layup. Had he made it, the Wizards would have pulled to within one, but instead Washington ended up intentionally fouling and the game was essentially over.
He's been questionable the past few games with an Achilles injury, so it will be interesting to see if a rest night is in Wall's future to try to heal up.
Randy Wittman is still really against playing Marcin Gortat in the fourth quarter
Gortat didn't enter the fourth quarter until there was 2:55 remaining in the game. Prior to that, Kris Humphries and Kevin Seraphin were splitting time at center. Humphries had a pretty good game, scoring 13 points and grabbing five boards in 26 minutes, but Seraphin was 2-for-7 from the floor and still played 19 minutes.
Gortat's struggles certainly play a big role in the overall struggle of Washington's offense (he had just four points in 24 minutes Monday) but keeping him sidelined isn't going to help him break out of his slump. Seraphin can do some things close to the rim, but he's not someone I'd want on the floor in crunch time to play defense. DeJuan Blair was also inactive for this game, but it's certainly not like Wittman had been using him in the rotation at all.
Something has to give with this rotation at center. The Wizards paid Gortat to be a starting center, and now he either needs to start playing like it, or Wittman needs to fully commit to Humphries in crunch time.
Bradley Beal is back
Not very many guys in the league have a shot that's this beautiful.
(GIF via Hoop District)
Beal is now shooting a combined 48 percent in his past two games and is shooting 58.8 percent from beyond in the arc in his past three. There were a couple long twos that Beal shouldn't have settled for, but with Webster injured and Paul Pierce held to just 24 minutes against the Hornets, it was nice to see Beal get hot, especially after he shot just under 43 percent in January.
The bench is going to be a recurring issue
With Gooden, Webster and Miller out, Washington's bench was depleted.
But that meant Garrett Temple was going to have to play some point guard. Temple played 26 minutes, made just three of his seven shots and only had one assist. He was also in the fourth quarter over Paul Pierce (for some reason) until the final 2:30 or so.
As a unit, Washington's bench shot 12-of-28 from the floor, which isn't all that bad, but Humphries really saved their shooting numbers. Otto Porter Jr. missed both of the free throws he attempted, and Seraphin had a terrible shooting night (as previously mentioned).
Even if Miller and Webster had been healthy, it's tough to say that the game would have been all that different. Miller had scored just eight combined points in his past four games, and Webster made only three three-pointers in the whole month of January. Don't be surprised if a move is made to help the bench at the trade deadline.