Kris Humphries observed recently that he'll be certain that the Wizards are reborn when they're able to win a game in which they don't shoot well. They didn't Monday and their four-game winning streak was snapped during Paul Pierce's return to Verizon Center in a 108-91 loss to the L.A. Clippers.
It was an anti-climactic performance as the Wizards (14-15) only had one field goal in the first five minutes and trailed by double digits with 1:39 left in the first quarter for the rest of the way. Chris Paul had 23 points and seven assists in just 27 minutes, Jamal Crawford had 21 points on 9 of 12 shooting and DeAndre made all six of his attempts on rim-rattling dunks for 15 points and 13 rebounds.
John Wall led the Wizards with game-highs of 23 points points and 11 assists, his 12th double-double in December and East-leading 16th of the season. Otto Porter came off the bench for the second game in a row since a left thigh bruise for 21 points to go with eight rebounds. Marcin Gortat had 12 points and a game-high 16 rebounds for his 11th double-double and Ramon Sessions 12 points.
Pierce, who talked glowingly about his only season in D.C. last season when he helped them to the East semifinals, scored seven of his nine points in the second quarter. He made consecutive baskets, including a three-pointer, to put the Clippers ahead by 19 to suck the air out of the fourth announced sellout crowd of the season (20,356).
The Clippers (19-13) didn't have Blake Griffin so Pierce started for the fourth time. He only had to play 17 minutes. Wesley Johnson (14 points) and Cole Aldrich (13 and six rebounds) gave their team a boost that the Wizards' reserves lacked after holding the previous three opponents to less than 100 points.
- Sink in to stop Wall first and then run out to the shooters at the arc was the plan for the Clippers. The looks from three were there but the Wizards shot 34-for-87 (39%). They were willing to give up shots in the lane to Gortat as long as they forced the ball out of Wall's hands. And when Wall did take shots, a team-high 23, they were pull up jumpers and not at the rim.
- Jordan is an offensive liability because of his lack of back-to-the-basket offense but he was able to get clean looks at the rim on lobs which is why he began 4-for-4. That's usually a bad sign. Gortat and Sessions were confused on a coverage late in the third, allowed Jordan to roam under the bucket free for an uncontested dunk. They wanted to force skip passes to the weak side when Luc Mbah a Moute was spotting up and allow him to shot threes or foul Jordan before he could get at the rim. They failed. And then Crawford was allowed those looks.
- Jared Dudley, Kelly Oubre and Garrett Temple, who have been key since being put in the starting lineup during the last four wins, were ineffective. So was Kris Humphries, who had been re-energized coming off the bench again. Only Oubre (1 of 2) made a three-point shot. The rest combined to shoot 0-for-7 from deep. They all combined to score 15 points. Defensively the Wizards were so disjointed it trickled down to everyone.
- Jarell Eddie's first three-pointer at home came on his first shot as it popped out and rimmed back in. But when the Wizards get more healthy bodies back he'll have to show better defense to stay on the court. Crawford got him one-on-one at the top of the key and blew by him for an uncontested layup with ease. Eddie soon was off the court but he came back to hit another three just before halftime to cut the score to 59-46.
- The Clippers shot 64% in the first quarter which set the tone for how this game would go. Paul wasn't double-teamed hard enough as they stayed over 50% for each quarter after that. They finished 41 of 78 (53%). If they'd shot better than 7 of 23 from three-point range, this would've been much worse than the final score.