The Washington Wizards fell to the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors 109-101 last night. It was a game of horrors for Bradley Beal as the Warriors made him a point of emphasis defensively. They passed him off from defender to defender and trapped him at times to get the ball out of his hands. On most occasions when it was just one-on-one, they played good defense both the person on the ball and from a help standpoint. Beal shot 3-of-15 and finished the game with eight points, despite that, the Wizards held their own. Otto Porter had a huge night, scoring 29 points on 10-of-17 shooting. Washington also got big contributions from their bench, but big runs by Golden State in both the first and third quarter doomed them. The Warriors didn’t have a great game offensively, but they were masterful defensively during stretches. They ended the first quarter strong and had one of their patented third quarter runs to start the second half. Kevin Durant had 32 points in his homecoming and Stephen Curry had 25 points, most of his damage came from the foul line and beyond the arc.
Turnovers helped Golden State get out to a 16 point lead, their defense held Washington to 34% in the first quarter. More importantly, they took Bradley Beal away from the Wizards on the offensive end. The All-Star guard was 0-for-4 in the period with the Warriors passing him off from defender to defender, clearly they didn’t want him to be a big factor. Durant got going early, the Wizards didn’t do a good job of communicating and Golden State made them pay for it. KD got to 16 points rather quickly, however Otto Porter kept Washington around despite their turnover issue with an efficient 11 points.
The Warriors 16 point lead was in tact to start the second quarter, but it was short lived. Washington’s second unit, that hasn’t gotten nearly enough credit this year, changed the game. Brooks marched out a lineup of Tim Frazier, Kelly Oubre, Mike Scott, Jodie Meeks, and Ian Mahinmi. They came in and were gritty and scrappy, they out played Golden State’s second unit to get Washington back into the game. One possession that stood out was when Tim Frazier, Kelly Oubre, and Mike Scott all got offensive rebounds. The multiple efforts would be rewarded with a thunderous dunk from Scott. Even when the starters returned for both teams, Washington was fighting for every inch with the champs. A Tomas Satoransky corner three would tie things at 56 late in the half, Curry got fouled and hit both free throws to give his team a two point lead heading into the half.
At the break, Beal still hadn’t scored which makes the fact Washington trailed by two that much more impressive. Porter led the way with 18 points on 6-of-10 shooing, while Markieff Morris added 10 points. Golden State was led by Durant with 18 points and Curry chipped in with 12 points. At that point, Washington had taken 11 more shots due to the second chance opportunities they got, 10 of their 26 rebounds were on the offensive glass.
As the third quarter began, Washington had plenty to be proud of as they trailed by just two and their All-Star shooting guard had yet to score. However, the third quarter is typically where Golden State makes their move on opposing teams. They have a net rating of 21.6 in that period, with the next closest team coming in at 9. It’s a huge difference and it swings games in their favor, that’s what happened to the Wizards as the Warriors started the second half with a 10-2 run to create separation. Bradley Beal would see his first shot of the night fall with 5:19 left in the period. Washington cut into the 15 point deficit with a mini run that brought it down to seven. Again, Golden State responded. Durant freed himself for a dunk on a back door cut and Curry stole the ensuing inbounds pass and drained a corner three. Durant and Curry combined to score 16 of the team’s 27 points in the quarter and the Warriors held the Wizards to jus 28.6% shooting from the floor. Beal and Oubre were a combined 4-of-24 from the floor heading into the fourth, yet the Wizards were still hanging around.
The Wizards finished the game strong, but it just wasn’t enough. Porter who had been hot all night continued to do his thing, scoring eight points. Oubre was able to generate offense by attacking the basket and drawing fouls. The Wizards trailed by just nine with 7:06 left in the game courtesy of a Beal triple, but over the next three possessions, they had three turnovers and committed fouls. Back-to-back baskets by Markieff cut their deficit to six with 2:46 left in the game. Washington did a good job on those two possessions by finding the mismatch and getting Morris the ball. Durant would respond with two points on a drive and then Iguodala scored on a reverse layup off a nice pass from Draymond Green.
Porter scored the next four points for the Wizards, but they were trading baskets at that time so they couldn’t make up the ground. The Wizards don’t have long to mull about this loss, they host one of the teams they’re looking up at in the standings tomorrow night as Toronto comes to town. This was definitely one of those games where the absence of John Wall was truly felt. Against teams with defenses that extend and pressure the ball, an elite player is needed that can take good and or great defenders off the dribble to put stress on said defense. Credit to Washington for hanging in there, but as Durant said after the game, it’s a difference when Wall is in there.