In the throes of a chilly December in DC, the Washington Wizards flew to sunny Los Angeles, an opportunity few in the District would turn down right now.
The Wizards, however, probably wish they had just stayed home, as they lost both games of a back-to-back against the Clippers and Lakers. The pair of losses was catastrophic for Washington: They extended their losing streak to 10 games while falling to 11-20 on the season. The Wizards now dwell in the cellar of the Eastern Conference alongside the Pistons, Hornets and Magic, three teams fighting to add Victor Wembanyama to their payroll. Their next five games are all against teams in playoff position, and the Wizards will be underdogs heading into each matchup, so a fifteen game losing streak is not out of the question.
The weekend kicked off with a Saturday matinee game against the Clippers at Crypto.com Arena, where the Wizards were unlucky to be the team on the receiving end of what may have Kawhi Leonard’s return-to-form game. Leonard, the two-time Finals MVP, has been playing a limited role for the Clippers this season after suffering a torn ACL in the 2021 playoffs. His 31 points in 32 minutes against the Wizards were both his highest since returning.
Virtually the only positive for the Wizards on Saturday was Deni Avdija’s highlight dunk through traffic.
The rest of the game against the Clippers was a struggle. No Wizard scored 20 points, only Monte Morris shot efficiently and the team as a whole failed to effectively share the basketball, recording only 20 assists. Washington ultimately fell 102-93.
There was no time to mope about the loss to the Clippers, as the Wizards had to rest up to face the Lakers the next day. Luckily, Washington would receive some extra help and a set of fresh legs on Sunday, as the team announced that Bradley Beal would be returning from a six-game injury absence.
Additionally, Anthony Davis was announced to miss multiple weeks with a foot injury prior to tipoff, meaning he would not play against the Wizards. Davis, an MVP candidate, has been far and away the Lakers’ best player this season, averaging 27.4 points and 12.1 rebounds while playing lockdown defense. He has been the lone bright spot in a pitiful Lakers season, and with him out of the lineup, the Wizards were all but gift-wrapped a win.
Somehow, despite Davis’ absence and an overall solid team game, the Wizards managed to lose in heartbreaking fashion to close a gut-punching weekend in Los Angeles. With the game tied at 117, Avdija stole the ball from LeBron James and had a perfect opportunity to hit Kyle Kuzma for a one-on-nobody fast break. Avdija couldn’t control the ball, however, and LeBron stole it right back, dishing it to former Wizard Thomas Bryant for the game-sealing dunk.
LEBRON JAMES TO THOMAS BRYANT FOR THE GAME-WINNER pic.twitter.com/Vbpiy6hU3q— NBA TV (@NBATV) December 19, 2022
To add insult to injury, James attributed his game-winning assist to luck.
With the pair of losses in the City of Angels, the Wizards are now 11-20 and nursing a 10-game losing streak. Their West Coast road trip continues on to Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Sacramento, where they will face three above-.500 teams. Should the Wizards return to the District with an 11-23 record, the front office should finally begrudgingly consider the benefits of employing a certain French teenager when making decisions going forward.