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Wizards vs. Hornets final score: Washington struggles defensively in 122-105 loss to Charlotte

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NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Washington Wizards Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Washington followed up an impressive win in Cleveland on Thursday with a 122-105 loss to the at home to the Hornets on Friday night.

The Wizards got off to a rough start for the third straight game. The Hornets scored 17 points in the first five minutes of the game and took an 18 point lead less than three minutes into the second quarter, even though Kemba Walker was held scoreless for most of the first half. Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams, and Frank Kaminsky all got off to great starts and forced Markieff Morris and Ian Mahinmi into early foul trouble.

The Wizards weren’t able to do much to cut into that lead until the final seconds of the first half. Kelly Oubre made a layup on what appeared to be Washington’s final possession of the first half, but then Bradley Beal stole a sloppy inbounds pass by Batum and drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer. The five-point swing turned a 17 point deficit into a much more manageable 12 point gap at halftime.

Unfortunately, Washington couldn’t capitalize on the momentum in the second half. Both teams struggled to generate offense and relied on their stars to do the heavy lifting. Beal scored 13 points and Walker scored 15 as both teams played to a draw in the third quarter.

The wheels finally came off in the fourth quarter as Charlotte’s oft-maligned bench took control of the game. Kaminsky led the way, scoring 14 points in the final frame as the Hornets kept the Wizards pulled away and kept Washington from even making it close at the end.

The Wizards are now 0-3 against the Hornets this season, including two losses by over 16 points.

Takeaways

Washington still has systemic defensive issues

As we mentioned in our preview, the Hornets have had the Wizards’ number this season defensively, and that didn’t change here, even though Washington’s defense has looked better as of late.

Charlotte shot 48.9 percent from the field and made 17 of their 39 threes. They’ve shot at least 47 percent from the field in all three of their meetings this season and have connected on 42.9 percent of their shots from deep against Washington.

Washington probably won’t have to worry about facing the Hornets in the playoffs, but they will have to worry about teams copying Charlotte’s blueprint. Teams like the Hornets, Jazz, and Nets have had a lot of success against Washington by dominating the turnover battle and running methodical offensive sets that wear the Wizards down until they crack and make a mistake. If the Wizards’ first round opponent can find a way to emulate that, Washington could be in a lot of trouble this April.

Another one of Beal’s high-minute games is wasted

Beal had a great game, finishing with 33 points, 6 assists, and 6 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to compensate for the rest of the team’s struggles. He finished one second shy of logging his 15th 40 minute game of the season, and like many of the games where he logged big minutes, Washington has nothing to show for it.

The Wizards are now 6-9 in games where Beal has played at least 39:59 this season. Every game matters in this tight Eastern Conference playoff race, but you can’t keep throwing good money after bad in these regular season games where Washington just doesn’t have it.

Game Notes

  • A rough night for all of Washington’s big men. Ian Mahinmi had five fouls in less than ten minutes, and Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris each had four fouls.
  • The Wizards went with Otto Porter at point guard for a brief stretch to try to spark something in the second half, but as you might expect, it didn’t work very well. It’s not a very strong vote of confidence in Ramon Sessions, who was active for the game after the team signed him on Thursday.
  • John Wall is basically Morpheus on the bench. Criticize his look all you want, but there’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.

Next up: The Wizards will host the 76ers on Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET.