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John Wall’s absence is exacerbating the Wizards’ early season struggles

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NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON - The entire #DCFamily has been holding its breath since the Washington Wizards announced their All-Star point guard John Wall would miss “approximately” two weeks because of discomfort and inflammation in his left knee.

Washington has a slew of concerning, albeit early-on-in-the-season issues, that are often sorted out when the captain of your ship is behind the wheel, doing his best to push through the gusts and drops.

Wall has missed just 12 games over the past four seasons, and will be now getting platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and viscosupplementation injections that shelved teammate Ian Mahinmi for six weeks last season.

For all their defensive woes this season, the Wizards are still ranked 13th in the league this season. Losing Wall, who has upped his defensive ante this season, surely hurts that. He also plays a critical role in the offense as the ball mover, playmaker and leader of the team. He has a positive impact regardless of how many buckets he makes on a given night.

Before the Charlotte game, the Wizards had held their six of their past seven opponents to 95 points or less. But they gave up 129 points to the Hornets on Wednesday, including 15 in overtime.

And then against the Blazers, they lost 108-105 after leading by as much as 17 points. Even without Wall, their offense was doing well — Beal had 26 points and Otto Porter had 24 points — until the team fell apart late.

“That second half, particularly in that fourth quarter, we just couldn’t get stops,” Coach Scott Brooks said after Saturday’s loss.

In their nine losses this season, they’ve had the lead going into the fourth quarter in five of them, with three of those leads being by double-digits — including Saturday vs. the Blazers. Worse yet, the Wizards have missed all 11 attempts from the field when tied or trailing by one possession within the final minute of regulation. Washington is 0-5 in those games.

Without Wall to lead them on the court as the chief ballhandler, they are going to have to turn to one another to prevent collapses like the ones against Charlotte and Portland.

It doesn’t matter if Tim Frazier is getting the most minutes at point guard or if Beal is in control of the ball more with Wall’s absence. What matters is that the Wizards are playing complete and total games from start to finish, and if they are backing themselves into a corner where a “clutch” bucket has to be made, they have to figure out a way to get the bucket they need — regardless of which star takes it.