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Wizards fall to sharp-shooting Clippers in L.A.
The road out West has not been kind to the Wizards to start the year, and Washington’s struggles continued on Sunday night in Los Angeles. A slow start ended up becoming a compounding issue for Washington as its defense again faltered and the Clippers got red-hot to cruise to a 136-104 rout.
John Wall (20 points) and Bradley Beal (18) turned in fairly efficient nights from the field, but got little help as Washington shot just 39.2% from the field and just 18.5% (just five makes) from 3-point land. Through six games, the Wizards have not been able to find their way from deep, shooting just 31% from beyond the arc (28th in the NBA). It’s an area that figures to be fixable, as Washington shot 37.5% from deep a season ago (fourth-best in the NBA) and has made the 3-point shot a major focus in its offensive DNA this season.
The bigger problem Sunday came on the other end of the floor where Los Angeles shot a blistering 55.2% from 3-point range (16 3-pointers) and an impressive 54.4% from the field on the whole. On the season, the Wizards have yet to give up fewer than 113 points and now average an NBA-worst 125 points allowed per game. And while it’s impossible to use a six-game trend as a cause for major alarm for an 82-game season, the Wizards know that shoring up the defensive end of the floor needs to be their first priority going forward.
Tobias Harris’ 22 points paced the winning effort from the Clippers, as Lou Williams’ 17 led LA’s second unit. In total, nine Clippers tallied 10 points or more, including former Wizard Mike Scott’s 11 points off the bench. Another former Wizard, Marcin Gortat, scored four points and added eight rebounds and three blocked shots. On the Washington side, former Clipper Austin Rivers scored nine points (3-of-6 FG) off the bench in his return to L.A.
On the night, every Wizards attempt to regain momentum was quickly turned away by a relentless Clippers onslaught. After falling down by 18 early in the second quarter, Washington mounted a 21-10 run sparked by nine points from Wall to shave the deficit to seven. By halftime, the Wizards again trailed by 15. Markieff Morris (concussion-like symptoms) exited the game in the first half and did not return after taking an inadvertent elbow to the head boxing out for a rebound.
Los Angeles’ back-breaking run came late in the third quarter when it rattled off four 3-pointers in around two minutes to go on a 16-0 streak that gave the Clippers a 26-point lead with 2:15 remaining in the frame.
The Wizards have preached that their defense needs to improve dramatically since the outset of the young season. And while that area remains a glaring issue with the team now at 1-5, Washington has consistently been able to score on the whole as it continues to work on chemistry on the other end. Moreover, the Wizards have seen the value of hard-nosed defense in their own numbers. They still rank third in the NBA in both points off of turnovers and fast-break points per game.
Next, Washington will finish its long trip closer to home with a trip back East to visit Memphis on Tuesday night. Tip-off against the Grizzlies is set for 8:00 p.m. ET.