On Tuesday night, the Washington Wizards (23-25) lost to the Los Angeles Clippers (24-25), 116-115, in agonizing fashion. The game started with a pregame tribute and moment of silence for Maurice “Moe” Brown, a member of the NBC Sports Washington and Monumental Sports families, who recently passed away.
Los Angeles entered the game missing several key players, including Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Marcus Morris.
The Clippers scored their first points at 8:46 of the first after center Ivica Zubac hit a pair of free throws. The visitors failed to make a field goal until 5:56, when Amir Coffey (game-high 29 points) hit a two. L.A. started the game 2-for-13 from the field but closed the period out in strong form to cut what was once an 18-point lead to nine.
Even after picking up two early fouls, Daniel Gafford led the way in the first quarter with 10 points, two rebounds and one emphatic block on Terance Mann. Even though the Wizards went over three minutes without a field goal, and with Bradley Beal not attempting a shot in the first, Washington went into the break ahead, 32-23.
Remarkably, Beal’s first shot attempt and set of points came at 6:47 of the second. Still, the Wizards were ahead by 22 even without a bucket from their leading scorer. Beal’s next basket was a stepback three to put the home side up 29 with just over five minutes left to play in the second.
Washington had its best defensive quarter of the season, holding Los Angeles to just 13 points in the second frame. After half the game played, the hosts enjoyed a 30-point lead.
Sloppy play early in the period allowed the Clippers to cut into Washington’s lead. After scoring 23 and 13 points in the first two quarters, respectively, LA blitzed the Wizards for 40 in the third.
With the game coming down to the wire, Montrezl Harrell missed a pair of free throws, but the energetic center made up for it on the defensive end with a key block. Trez’s defense plus a huge Beal three had the Wizards heading in the right direction.
But two late threes from Luke Kennard (25 points off the bench), the second of which he was fouled on, saw the Clippers erase a 35-point deficit at Capital One Arena. As the Clippers celebrated on the court, the Wizards left in ignominy.
Beal had 23 points, nine rebounds and six assists and Kyle Kuzma had a 19-point, 12-rebound double-double. Gafford, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Harrell had 12 points apiece.
The only consolation on the night when the Wizards celebrated the Chinese New Year was that Beal made his 644th appearance for the Wizards, passing Greg Ballard for third-most games played in franchise history.
The Wizards now face a brutal six-game stretch, starting with Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. After that, Washington faces the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets.