History is written by the victors, so they say. That’s surely bad news for the Wizards’ Jeff Green, who suffered one of the more humiliating crossover reactions of the NBA season on Tuesday night.
The catch? A closer look reveals Lance Stephenson simply stepped on Green’s foot, resulting in the awkward ensuing flailing and cashed jump shot. But nobody will remember the caveats and excuses for Green’s embarrassment: They will only remember the failure and the celebrations.
Green nearly fell over; Lance hit the shot; the bench lost their minds; the rest is inconsequential. When we look back on the history of a moment or a season, particularly in sports, context matters little. Losers are losers. And boy, are these Wizards losers.
Washington extended their losing streak to five with a 124-106 defeat at the hands of the Lakers on Tuesday night. Bradley Beal finished with a valiant 32 points, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the Lakers with 29 of his own.
Los Angeles originally came out in the first quarter looking to limit Beal as much as possible. They blitzed him off the dribble in pick-and-roll, forcing Washington’s other starters to make plays instead. This was mostly ineffective in the first quarter as Thomas Bryant and co. worked effectively in 5-on-4 situations and had the offense humming early on. The Lakers’ shooters heated up late in the first though and carried Los Angeles to a 34-29 lead after one.
Though Washington controlled most of the first quarter, the team came apart at the seams in the second. Los Angeles broke the game open due to the timely play of — *squints at statsheet* — somebody named “LeBron James.”
LBJ finished the first half with 12 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds and commanded the Lakers during their lead-extending run. The Lakers led 67-56 at the half and it only got worse in the third as the Wizards continued to fly by the seats of their pants (though there was some upside to the strategy).
Tomas Satoransky dropping dimes from his back lol pic.twitter.com/uIGPGHtqP4— Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) March 27, 2019
Washington’s horrendous defense continued to sink their comeback efforts after halftime. Though the Lakers did their best to get the ball out of his hands, Beal finally broke out in the third quarter. He struggled with his shot early on (2-of-7 on 3-pointers), so the Wizards’ All-Star turned to the foul line to get his usual output. He ended up 10-of-13 from there and added a few great rack attacks to accrue an efficient 32 points nonetheless.
At one point in the third, Beal even scored 17 consecutive Wizards points over an extended stretch, yet the team could not meaningfully shorten the lead during that span. Beal’s efforts, as always, were wholly appreciated amid a lackluster team effort.
The Lakers kept their lead around 15 points throughout most of the third and fourth quarters, though Washington got as close as 8 points in the fourth after a Jabari Parker and-one floater.
Ultimately, the casual mastery of LeBron (23 points, 14 assists, 7 rebounds) and a surprisingly efficient performance from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (29 on 10-of-17 shooting) kept the Lakers comfortably out in front for most of the final three quarters.
Now fully entering tank mode, the non-Beal Wizards seemed rather apathetic as the game slipped away.
Washington’s Abysmal 2-Point Defense
The Lakers shot 37-of-56 on 2-point shots in this game, good for a rather nuts 66.1 percent success rate. For the season, Washington’s opponents are shooting a hair under 54 percent from inside the arc, good for the fifth-worst short-range shooting defense in the league.
That easy breezy finishing at the basket should at least in part be pinned on the poor interior defense of Thomas Bryant and Bobby Portis, each of whom had their fair share of defensive blunders tonight. For more on the Wizards’ ailing defense inside, including clips of Bryant’s and Jabari Parker’s inaction in action, see point no. 5 in Zach Lowe’s 10 Things column from last Friday.
Your Moment of Zen
Next Up: The Wizards (30-45) heads to Phoenix to take on the Suns (17-58), in a game that won’t serve as much of a referendum on December’s Trevor Ariza - Kelly Oubre swap since Oubre is out for the season and Ariza may not play after straining his groin during the game.