Defense Continues to Undermine Wizards

Washington Wizards Weekly - 5

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For the Washington Wizards (6-12), the common theme in their early season struggles has been the same: defense. The Wizards have allowed opponents to score 100 or more points in 11 of their 12 losses so far this season. The team’s defense has been bad, so bad that even head coach Scott Brooks tried to give the team a spark this week by calling out team leader John Wall for his defense or lack thereof. If the team is going to lock down opponents then Wall will have to be the catalyst as the starting unit’s most athletic and active body. Wall aside, it hasn’t been just the guard who needs to up his effort as Washington sits currently at the bottom of the Southeast Division. The AFRO recaps the week that was for the Washington Wizards.

Nov. 28: Wizards Dethrones Kings in 101-95 Overtime Win

Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) dribbles the ball against Sacramento Kings guard Darren Collison (7) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Nov. 28, 2016, in Washington. The Wizards won 101-95 in overtime. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Washington opened the week on Nov. 28 with a home game against the Sacramento Kings. While much of the pregame storylines between the Kings and Wizards focused on Wall and ex-Kentucky teammate DeMarcus Cousins, the two all-stars gave the fans at the Verizon Center a show with a 101 95 overtime Wizards win. Cousins impressed with a 36-point, 20-rebound stat line, but it was Wall and current teammate Bradley Beal who took control of the game. Wall added 19 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds, while Beal scored a team-high 31 points while hauling in six rebounds. Cousins’ layup tied the game 92-92 shortly before the end of regulation but Beal’s corner three with under two minutes left in the extra session gave the Wizards a five-point lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.

Nov. 30: Oklahoma City Brings the Thunder in Wizards Defeat, 126-115

Despite a seven-point lead late in the fourth quarter, Washington couldn’t hold off Russell Westbrook and Oklahoma City Thunder in a 126-115 overtime loss on Nov. 30. Washington overcame an early 16-point deficit to lead 97-90 with just under four minutes to go in regulation before Westbrook’s three-pointer evened the game 108-108 with eight seconds remaining. He then scored 14 points in overtime against a bevy of Washington defenders to push the game out of reach. Beal again scored a team-high 31 points while Wall added 15 points and 15 assists. Seven Wizards scored in double-figures but the team shot just 3-for-9 in overtime.

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Dec. 2: Wizards Fall in Close Loss to Spurs

Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) drives to the basket past San Antonio Spurs center Pau Gasol (16) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Dec. 2, 2016, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) drives to the basket past San Antonio Spurs center Pau Gasol (16) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Dec. 2, 2016, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Washington took to the road on Dec. 2 to square off against the San Antonio Spurs in what turned out to be a back-and-forth game. Beal’s 23 points paced Washington but a last-second shot from Kawhi Leonard gave San Antonio a 107-105 win. Five players scored in double-figures for the Wizards but defensive issues once again sabotaged the road team. The Spurs scored at least 50 points in each half. It wasn’t just the team’s defense that plagued Washington as the bench continued its early-season ineptitude. The Spurs outscored the Wizards 40-17 in bench scoring. 

Next: Washington will return to action on Dec. 5 when they visit the Brooklyn Nets (5-14).