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Clippers close out Wizards late, 135-119
Another lights-out shooting night from Davis Bertans was not enough as the Clippers (17-7) topped the Wizards (7-15) 135-119 Sunday night at Capital One Arena. Bertans led Washington with 25 points, shooting 6-12 (.500) from deep, while L.A.’s All-NBA duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George put on a show, combining for 61 points.
“We compete, that's what I love about our guys,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said. “I'm not frustrated with our guys, [they] compete. They practice hard, their shoot-arounds are locked in. We need the experience of playing against these good teams.”
Bertans has now scored 20-plus points and hit at least five 3-pointers in four of his last five games and leads the NBA with eight games with five-plus threes off the bench this season. No other player has more than three such performances off the bench.
Leonard and George wasted no time making an impact, scoring 13 of the Clippers’ first 17 points and opening up a 12-point lead on the Wizards just over three minutes into the game. Both Leonard and George scored 10 points and recorded three assists in the first quarter. The Wizards shot just 8-22 (.364) from the field, but hit 5-8 (.625) from 3-point range in the first. Bradley Beal struggled to find a rhythm early on, missing his six field goal attempts.
Bertans checked into the game for the first time with 2:46 left in the first quarter with the Wizards down 34-20 and hit his first three of the night just over a minute later, cutting the lead to 10. In the second quarter, Bertans scored 11 points in a five-minute span to erase the remainder of the deficit and give Washington a 45-44 lead. Over the final five minutes of the first half, neither team led by more than two points, trading buckets until the buzzer sounded with Los Angeles up by one.
“As soon as he caught it, he has a quick release and high confidence of knocking down the shot,” Leonard said of Bertans postgame. “He kept them in the game tonight.”
Leonard did the heavy lifting for L.A. in the third, scoring 11 points on 4-6 (.667) shooting, propelling the Clippers to a 16-point lead in less than six minutes. With 3:50 left in the third quarter, Ian Mahinmi and Chris Chiozza entered the game, cutting the deficit from 11 to three in less than two minutes. Mahinmi, playing in his second game since returning from an Achilles injury, recorded a +18 rating in 17 minutes of action, scoring nine points and grabbing six rebounds. Chiozza, seeing increased action in the absence of Isaiah Thomas, who has missed the last three games due to a left calf strain, totaled five points and six assists in 15 minutes. Chiozza has recorded six assists in two of the last three games.
The Clippers led by seven after three quarters and shot nearly 60% from the field in the fourth to seal the victory.
Bertans was not the only Wizards bench player to make an impact off the bench tonight. Troy Brown Jr. scored a season-high 22 points, just two points short of his career high set last season against Denver. The performances by Bertans and Brown Jr. helped keep the Wizards within reach of one of the league’s best teams while Beal and Rui Hachimura struggled to get in rhythm. Beal and Hachimura combined to shoot 10-32 (.312) from the field, including 3-16 (.187) in the first half.
The Wizards play their next three games on the road, beginning Tuesday 7:00 P.M. in Charlotte against the Hornets (9-16). Washington then has three days off before taking on the Memphis Grizzlies (6-16) Saturday at 8:00 P.M. and the Detroit Pistons at 7:00 P.M. The Wizards are back in D.C. on Wednesday, December 18, hosting the Chicago Bulls (8-16) at 7:00 P.M.