Like many other losses this season, an early deficit in New Orleans proved too much for the Wizards to overcome.
Right from the tipoff, the Pelicans frontcourt bullied the undermanned Wizards. Zion Williamson feasted inside the paint, as he scored 32 points on only 16 shots. As for the shots that the other Pelicans did miss, the misses were gobbled up by Steven Adams. Because the team failed to gang rebound, the Pelicans got second-chance opportunity after second-chance opportunity. And New Orleans took advantage: all of the extra efforts helped them pull away for a 17-point lead after the first quarter.
But the gritty Wizards were able to shave some points off the deficit by way of a pleasant surprise. Returning to a relic from the past — posting up the center! – Robin Lopez went to work with his (unstoppable?) skyhook. Scoring 9 consecutive points, Robin helped the Wizards trim the double-digit deficit to a manageable 9 points. Having seen young Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes get schooled enough, Stan Van Gundy tactically reinserted Steven Adams, and the bullying recommenced.
By the time the game took its halftime pause, the Pels had gone on a 26-11 run to increase its lead to 19 points. As the Wizards left the floor, you could see heads dropping, as the players’ body language began to show the attendant effects that come with rust and being undermanned.
Bradley Beal was his usual self, scoring 24 points in the third quarter to keep the team afloat and the viewing faithful interested. Brad finished with 47 points on 17-of-37 shooting, including a 6-of-14 performance from three.
And Robin Lopez and Garrison Mathews helped Brad on the offensive end, as both players had double-digit scoring performances.
Yet it wasn’t enough: The Wizards were still missing six players due to coronavirus protocols, were on the second night of a back-to-back, and could not get a defensive stop.
In the end, the game resulted in a tough loss. But I appreciate the spirited effort by the group.
The Wizards next face off against the Atlanta Hawks this Friday, Jan. 29. Hopefully returning home marks a return to the win column.