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.
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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.
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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.
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