Washington gave up a 17 point lead over the final 8:52 seconds of regulation and lost to the Blazers 108-105 on Saturday night.
Things were going well in Washington for most of their first game after the team announced John Wall would miss at least two weeks after undergoing a knee procedure on Saturday. Otto Porter was putting together an outstanding all-around game, Bradley Beal was playing well as the team’s primary option, and the defense had largely kept Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum in check.
But over the final stretch — a time during which a team that had two nights off like Washington should be surging, and a time during which a team on the second night of a back-to-back like Portland should be fading — the Blazers’ dynamic backcourt caught fire, combining to score 24 of the Blazers’ last 33 points. Meanwhile the Wizards’ late-game offense looked remarkably similar to the one we’ve seen surrender several late-game leads this season, just with Bradley Beal taking Wall’s spot milking the clock and generating low-quality shot attempts against set defenses.
Here’s what the box score looked like over the final 8:52:
Portland also got a boost in the closing minutes after Markieff Morris was called for a flagrant foul on Jusuf Nurkic with under two minutes to go. Even though Nurkic split the free throws, it allowed them to get the ball back, which led to C.J. McCollum three that made it a one-possession game with 90 seconds left.
The good news is that the Wizards showed in this game that unlike previous years, they can be successful without John Wall carrying them. But unfortunately, it seems more clear than ever that the team has yet to correct the mistakes that have haunted them over the past few years and kept them from getting where they want to go.
Little things that add up when you lose a game by three points
- Giving up three dunks in the opening four minutes of the game.
- Getting called for a delay of game foul to open the second half and handing the Blazers a free point.
- Tim Frazier sailing a pass over Markieff Morris’ head when he was wide open under the basket in transition.
- As we mentioned earlier, the four-point swing from Morris’ flagrant foul.
Wizards rely on post-up game with Wall out
Even though John Wall isn’t much of a shooter, he creates spacing in ways that Tim Frazier just doesn’t. To overcome that challenge, Washington went to their post-up game early and often against Portland. Markieff Morris, Marcin Gortat, and Otto Porter all got lots of opportunities to back players down and create shot opportunities.
Washington had some success with that early in the game, especially with Porter, which allowed them to keep Portland from creating opportunities in transition, and eventually forced the Blazers to collapse their defense a bit, which gave Beal the space he needed to get open for some shots.
Don’t be surprised if we see a lot more of this while the Wizards try to manage without John Wall. They won’t always have the favorable matchups in the frontcourt that they against Portland, but they’ll need to get more creative when it comes to spreading the floor and freeing Beal up for open shots. Plus, Porter continues to show he’s capable of handling more post-ups. He scored 24 points tonight even though he only attempted one three-pointer.
- In case you missed it in the box score above, Otto Porter did not take a shot over the final 8:52 of regulation. This season, he’s only attempted THREE SHOTS in the final five minutes of games in which the margin is five points or less. At some point, the team’s gotta realize that’s not right.
- Just a general observation: UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHh
- On a lighter note, Tim Frazier can dunk! That’s cool.
Next up: The Wizards head back on the road Tuesday to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves at 8 p.m. ET.