The Washington Wizards have now lost back-to-back games, both of which haven’t been the easiest pills to swallow. Two nights ago it was at the hands of the red-hot Paul George, tonight it was the red-hot Charlotte Hornets. Heading into this game, well in the game preview the strength of the Hornets at home was brought up for a reason. Washington started slow, but appeared to take over the game in the third quarter with a great defensive effort and hot shooting from Gary Neal. The Wizards held a 27-16 edge in that pivotal quarter that helped them capture the lead for the first time since the start of the first quarter. Then it happened, the Charlotte team that showed up late Monday night against the Kings made an appearance against the Wizards late as well. The Hornets would literally take the game from the Wizards with a dominant 25-2 run in the final period to come out on top 101-87. Giving Charlotte their fourth consecutive win and Washington their second straight loss. One area of concern for Washington is how badly they were outscored in the paint, 46-22 with Al Jefferson having just 14 points.
The second units were key in this game, Jeremy Lamb played a key role for the Hornets as he stayed on the floor with the starters to close out the game for the injured P.J. Hairston. The reserve guard scored an efficient 18 points to counter Gary Neal’s performance for Washington.
“Makes, misses, that’s the game but u never give in to it & we haven’t gotten over that. It’s been that way for the last couple yrs.” – Randy Wittman, Wiz Head Coach
Second Unit. This isn’t about how they played, but more of when to pull the plug on them. Washington left that group on the floor maybe a tad too long, with Gary Neal (18 points) and Nene being very productive for much of the game it made sense to ride them a bit, but it proved to be costly. Neal would go cold, Charlotte would get into a rhythm defensively and things changed for the worse. Still, it’s been a couple of good games for Neal and Washington needs him to continue his production.
Defense. Washington played lights out on the defensive end for the entire third period. They’d force 19 turnovers on the night, earning 13 steals along the way. Then it was gone at the start of the fourth quarter, the defense was just as porous as the first half. Charlotte shot 47% on the night which isn’t bad, but it felt more than it was due to Washington shooting just 35% from the floor.
Stretch Four. It’s abundantly clear that Washington needs to decide whether to go that route in the starting five or just scrap it. Humphries had just five points and seven rebounds in 17 minutes of playing time. In contrast, Marvin Williams had 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Hornets starting at power forward. Kris is limited on both ends of the floor, far too often Washington ends up paying for it. A decision needs to be made sooner than later.
Turnovers and Rebounds. Washington is still struggling to hold on to the ball, against the Hornets they turned it over just 14 times which isn’t bad. Although the timing of those turnovers certainly didn’t help. Their All-Star point guard is struggling in that area as of late and had five turnovers against the Hornets. The Wizards got worked on the glass, the positive is that they did corral 11 offensive rebounds. The negative being that Charlotte held a 51-41 edge on the glass on the night.
Tough Night for Wall & Beal. Washington definitely has one of the best backcourt’s in the league, but they can’t win when the duo is struggling. They combined to shoot just 12 of 34 from the field. It was nice to get help from a couple of the “others” and to see Gortat pick it up on the offensive end, but their start backcourt needs to shoot better going forward.