Wizards Top Stories

Quick Links

Wizards have had major trouble in revenge games this season

Wizards have had major trouble in revenge games this season

The Wizards have had several games this season where they had every reason to be extra motivated from a previous loss, but have fallen remarkably short in the rematch.

It happened again on Wednesday night. The Wizards travelled into Charlotte to see the 18-25 Hornets who beat them in overtime back on Nov. 22 in the same building. It was an opportunity for the Wizards to right a wrong and buck the narrative of their season. In most years the odds of a team with Charlotte's record beating the Wizards not once but twice are slim, yet here we are. The Wizards didn't just lose to Charlotte, they got blasted by 29 points.

This was the case recently against the Utah Jazz. The Wizards had lost by 47 points in Utah on Dec. 4, a defeat so bad head coach Scott Brooks remarked how wins should be taken off their record as punishment. Before their rematch on Jan. 10 in D.C., the phrase '47 pts' was written on the locker room white board. Clearly someone was motivated from that loss, but not enough to help prevent a letdown in the rematch. Despite missing Rudy Gobert, their best player, the Jazz still beat the Wizards.

PODCAST: JODIE MEEKS ON HIS SHOOTING SLUMP

The worst case of this trend has to be in December when they saw the Brooklyn Nets twice in just over a week. The Nets topped the Wizards on Dec. 12 by five points despite missing several key players due to injury. Just 10 days later the Wizards had a chance to get the Nets back and prove it was an aberration, yet they instead got obliterated by 35 points by the very same team.

Wednesday night's loss to the Hornets showcased the worst traits of their 2017-18 season so far. They lost to a losing team and are now just 12-10 against opponents with sub-.500 records. Those 10 losses match the Hawks and Mavericks for the most in the NBA.

The Wizards' defensive effort was questionable at best and Brooks was rightfully displeased. They allowed 77 points in the first half, a franchise record for the Hornets and the most the Wizards have surrendered in any half since Dec. of 2006.

"They wooped our a--," guard John Wall said.

RELATED: COACH BROOKS SAYS CHANGES WILL BE MADE

The Hornets are a below average team at shooting threes, yet they went off for 15-for-31 (48.4%) against the Wizards. Dwight Howard dominated them in the paint and, as has been the case far too often lately, Otto Porter and Markieff Morris disappeared.

Why the Wizards haven't been able to respond against these teams they are much better than on paper is a real mystery. Even when the Wizards are embarrassed by a team, they aren't able to punch back.

Though we're still months away, this will have to be fixed before the playoffs. A seven-game postseason series is all about making adjustments and issuing counters.

There are still dozens of games left in the regular season and a game in January can only mean so much, as these are the dog days of the 82 game schedule. But the Wizards aren't showing the resolve we're used to seeing from them and it's not easy to explain.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

Quick Links

After lopsided loss to Hornets, Scott Brooks says changes will be made for Wizards

usatsi_10500915.jpg
USA Today Sports

After lopsided loss to Hornets, Scott Brooks says changes will be made for Wizards

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks is a master at keeping his composure when addressing the media, even if it's clear he has just calmed down from ripping into his team. But after Wednesday night's 133-109 loss to the Charlotte Hornets in which they gave up a season-high in points, Brooks was about as blunt as he has been when discussing his team publicly since taking over in Washington.

Brooks seethed as he called out his team. He didn't mention names, but hinted he's lost patience and is ready to shake things up.

"We have to change some things," he said. "We’ve gotta find guys that will compete."

Brooks has said similar things in the past, but this time it seemed different and guard Bradley Beal confirmed as much moments later.

"He’s pissed," Beal said of Brooks. "He’s upset. He’s mad. We’re not giving him what he wants from a production standpoint. He’s going to make a change for sure. That’s pretty much all I can say. He was beyond furious after the game. Guys should be ready, a lot of guys should expect to play and not play. That was pretty much his message."

PODCAST: JODIE MEEKS ON HIS SHOOTING SLUMP

Brooks is limited in the changes he can make with the Wizards' current roster construction. John Wall and Beal are safe in the starting lineup. Though they are just as guilty as others at times on the defensive end, they are each having All-Star seasons. Otto Porter is signed to a max contract and when healthy provides value in many areas of the game.

The most obvious option for Brooks would be to insert Kelly Oubre, Jr. into the starting lineup. Oubre began the season as a starter with Markieff Morris sidelined due to sports hernia surgery and the Wizards' three best lineups this season based on plus-minus rating all include Oubre.

Their best lineup in net rating with a sample size of 100 minutes or more has Oubre alongside Porter, Wall, Beal and Marcin Gortat. That group was +17.8 in 192:51 entering Wednesday night's game.

The Wizards have also had success in the past two seasons with Oubre in there alongside Wall, Beal, Porter and Morris. That small-ball group has produced dividends particularly on the defensive end.

If Oubre were to be inserted into the starting lineup, it will not be an easy call picking who to remove. Porter is the Wizards' third-best player and both Morris and Gortat play valuable and specific roles when at their best.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

There are also egos at play. Guys like Porter, Morris and Gortat are used to being NBA starters. Pushing them to the bench would require a difficult conversation. 

Morris and Gortat going to the bench would create uneven spots in the Wizards' rotation. Unless he's replaced by Ian Mahinmi, Gortat on the bench would give the Wizards two centers of similar ilk who can't coexist in the second unit. If Oubre were swapped in for Morris, the Wizards would have a power forward logjam on the bench with no obvious backup small forward to spell Oubre and Porter.

Another option for Brooks would be to slide backup power forward Mike Scott into the starting lineup. He has been one of the Wizards' most efficient scorers this season and a standout on their bench.

The Wizards could of course change the dynamic with a trade, but that's unlikely to happen immediately with the trade deadline still three weeks away. The Wizards do not have anything imminent in the works, as their hope has been to patiently evaluate their roster leading up to the deadline like in years past.

At some point, a deal may have to happen but for now Brooks is going to have to figure it out with the group he has. Like Beal said, it's coming. We just don't know which direction he will go or how drastic it will be.

PODCAST: MIDSEASON AWARDS FOR MVP, BEST WIN AND MORE

Quick Links

Wizards blown out by Hornets as tempers flare in fight between teams

Wizards blown out by Hornets as tempers flare in fight between teams

The Washington Wizards lost to the Charlotte Hornets 133-109 on Wednesday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Defense was atrocious: The Wizards have had some ugly defensive performances this season and often at unexpected times against teams they had no business losing to. Their loss to the Hornets on Wednesday may top them all.

Yes, head coach Scott Brooks will not be happy after this one. The Hornets, who entered the game 17th in the NBA in points per game (105.0) and 21st in offensive rating, set forth a scoring barrage never before seen in their franchise history. They had 38 points in the first quarter and a franchise-record 77 points at halftime. Those 77 points were the most allowed by the Wizards in one half since Dec. 17, 2006. That was the game Gilbert Arenas dropped 60 points on Kobe Bryant and the Lakers at the Staples Center. Good times.

Wednesday night was not good times. The Hornets added 25 points in the third quarter and 29 in the fourth to total 133 for the game. That was a season-high for the Wizards in points allowed.

The numbers are just plain hideous. Dwight Howard had 18 points and 15 rebounds. Kemba Walker dropped 19 points and seven assists. Even the offensively-challenged Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 21 points in 22 minutes. There is no excuse for that.

The Wizards are the best team in basketball at opponent's three-point percentage, but you wouldn't have known it in this game. The Hornets went 15-for-31 for 48.4 percent from long range. 

Get this: the Wizards have now allowed 100 points or more in 16 straight games, which is the longest streak in the NBA this season. Their defense is a disaster right now and there doesn't seem to be an easy answer to fix it.

This was their second straight loss. They have yet to lose three consecutive games this season, but that will be put on the line Friday against the Pistons.

PODCAST: JODIE MEEKS ON HIS SHOOTING SLUMP

Fight night: Frustrations boiled over for the Wizards in the fourth quarter when the two teams got involved in a near fight that required referees and coaches to split up. It all began when Wizards big man Jason Smith and Hornets guard Michael Carter-Williams got tangled on a rebound. Carter-Williams went after Smith and ended up being ejected along with Wizards guard Tim Frazier, who had to be restrained by a referee as he tried to retaliate.

This will likely result in some fines:

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

Beal balled out: The defense was an unmitigated disaster, but the Wizards didn't have many issues on the other end of the floor and that effort was led by Bradley Beal. Beal continued his All-Star push with a dominant scoring performance. He had 13 points in his first seven minutes and 20 by halftime. That was on 7-for-11 from the field and 4-for-5 from three.

Beal is such a natural scorer that when he's really on it looks like he's not even trying. He can make it look that easy and that was the case on Wednesday. Beal casually dropped in three-pointers and when the Hornets took that away, he exploded to the rim.

Just look at this play. He made a difficult finish look very easy:

Beal finished with 26 points in 27 minutes, but clearly it wasn't enough..

Bad night for Keef: Markieff Morris stumbled before he could even get started in this one. It took him just 3:21 to pick up two fouls and get sent to the bench. Morris had his third foul midway through the second quarter and his fourth midway through the third.

It wasn't just the fouls that contributed to an off night for Morris. He had just two points in 15 minutes on 1-for-5 shooting. Morris has been a liability on offense in recent games. In his last five outings, he has failed to reach double figures four times. For a starter getting the minutes he's being offered, that is unaccpetable even if he's a secondary option.

Up next: The Wizards are off Thursday before playing at the Detroit Pistons on Friday night. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington Plus.

PODCAST: MIDSEASON AWARDS FOR MVP, BEST WIN AND MORE