Wizards

Quick Links

Wizards have been the most consistent NBA team at being inconsistent

usatsi_10465281.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Wizards have been the most consistent NBA team at being inconsistent

The Wizards did something on Saturday in Los Angeles that has been head-scratchingly common for them this season, they lost to an objectively bad team. And, as has become custom, the Wizards led by double-digit points at one juncture and their opponent was missing several key players.

It was a game in which they had no excuse for losing.

"It’s frustrating. It’s a little bit beyond frustrating at this point," guard Bradley Beal said. "Like I just told Tim [Frazier], we should be tired of coming in here and saying ‘on to the next one, on to the next one.’ You run out of games at some point."

Head coach Scott Brooks appears beyond frustrated, as well. After the game he suggested over and over that there were players on his team that didn't show up to play. 

"We need all of our guys ready to play and we didn’t have that this afternoon," he said.

Brooks could have been referring to Kelly Oubre, Jr, or Markieff Morris, who had arguably their worst games of the season, but he wouldn't name names. It doesn't really matter because just about everyone has been a culprit at some point in these letdowns against lesser teams this season.

[RELATED: WIZARDS-CLIPPERS HAD A WEIRD ENDING]

The Wizards this season have been the NBA's most enigmatic and least predictable team. They have two very different versions of themselves and what you get appears to heavily depend on who they are playing.

This season the 14-12 Wizards have been markedly worse against losing teams than they have against teams at .500 or with a winning record. Basically, they play well against the good teams and bad against the bad ones. That's the definition of NBA insanity.

In the Eastern Conference, only the Celtics (8-4) and Cavs (7-4) have a better record against teams at .500 above than the Wizards, who are 8-5. That's the positive.

But the Wizards are just 6-7 against teams with losing records. Only the Hawks (5-7) and Bulls (5-9) have been worse in that category among teams in the East and they are terrible. The Wizards are the only NBA team currently with a reverse split of a losing record against losing teams and a winning record against winning teams.

The 2017-18 NBA season is only about a third of the way finished, and things may end up evening out, but the contrast the Wizards are seeing is very rare. No team has finished a season with a reverse split since at least the 2001-02 season (as far back as ESPN.com's expanded NBA standings go).

[PODCAST: WIZARDS ARE STARTING A PRO NBA 2K18 TEAM]

It's usually the other way around and to a dramatic extent. Last season, the Wizards were 27-9 against teams with losing records compared to 22-24 vs. those at .500 or better. 

In every NBA season, even some good teams are bad against other good teams. And usually, even bad teams are good against other bad teams. Last season, seven teams that missed the playoffs had winning records against teams below .500, including the Knicks, Sixers and Kings.

This season the Wizards have already lost to the Hornets (9-16), Lakers (10-15), Clippers (9-15), Suns (9-19) and Mavericks (7-19). Their under. 500 difficulties also include defeats against the Jazz (13-14) and the Heat (12-13). Two more and they will match their total losses against sub-.500 teams from all of last season.

Many of the Wizards' games have been close and they are ending up on the wrong side far too often. Their losses against the Lakers, Heat and Clippers were all by three points or less.

No team in the East has had more games decided by three points or less than the Wizards, who are 1-5 in those scenarios. No one else in the East has lost more than three such games.

The Wizards only lost six games decided by three points or less all of last season. They were 9-6 in those games and only two teams won more of them.

The numbers from last year suggest the Wizards will snap out of this at some point, but like Beal said, it should probably happen sooner than later.

"We’ve gotta learn how to put teams away. We’ve gotta learn how to put our foot on the gas," he added. "These are important games and games that we need to win and should have won."

The Wizards keep playing up and down to their opponents and it's leading to a staggering amount of regrettable defeats.

[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