After falling to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, the Wizards were right back in ‘The Land’ for another crack at Donovan Mitchell’s squad.
Last time out, defense was the issue yet again as Wes Unseld Jr’s group surrendered 140 points to a depleted Cavs team that was missing both Evan Mobley and Darius Garland. This time out, Washington looked to sure up the defensive end and come out of Cleveland with a win.
The Wizards were blown out again, 114-90.
Friday’s action began similarly to Wednesday’s game, as the Wizards got out to another poor start. Cleveland torched the Washington defense en route to an early 11-point lead. If not for Tyus Jones’ 11 first-quarter points, this could’ve gotten out of hand. The bench unit entered the floor and embarked on an 11-0 run, closing the gap to just three.
Rookie Bilal Coulibaly poured in two threes alongside two blocks as the Wizards drew closer and closer. The run was all for nothing though as the team collapsed late, surrendering offensive rebounds and open threes to enter the second quarter down double-digits, 36-26.
Georges Niang took over to start Q2, knocking down back-to-back threes as the home team opened up a 16-point advantage. Washington’s perimeter defense continues to hurt them, seemingly being the story of every game. I’m not sure if it is a lack of suitable defenders or simply poor rotations, but it’s a problem that’s been prevalent all season and doesn’t look like it’s going to be solved any time soon.
Apart from Coulibaly and Jones, there weren’t many positives to take from the first half. Donovan Mitchell and Georges Niang led Cleveland to a 52-40 lead at the break, with each player scoring in double-figures after 24 minutes of play.
Another storyline to take note of is the recent struggles for Jordan Poole, who had zero points on just two shots in the first half. For a guy making $30+ million per year, that’s unacceptable. At no point should he have that low of an output in a half. It adds to his frustrating season thus far.
Coming out the break, Washington needed to adjust to avoid another blowout loss. They did not. Cleveland continued to pour it on from deep and out-hustle the Wizards, sprinting to loose balls and winning the 50-50 plays. Those are the little things that make a difference, and the Wizards were simply not getting to those loose balls.
Halfway through the third quarter, the Cavs had opened a 20-point lead and never looked back.
For the second time in three nights, Wes Unseld Jr. and company were losing so badly that the white flag was thrown at the start of the 4th quarter. Another non-competitive effort on the road that resulted in a final quarter comprised of end-of-the-bench guys instead of your starting lineup.
The two losses by 20+ are bad enough, but they become worse when you consider that Cleveland played without two of its best players in Evan Mobley and Darius Garland. Should Washington have won either of these games? Probably not. But they should’ve been a whole lot more competitive, especially in the second game.
The Wizards are back in action Saturday night at home against the New York Knicks.