NEW ORLEANS -- It's only fitting that Tyreke Evans, a career 27.7% three-point shooter, found the magic touch against the Wizards. The same can be said for Jrue Holiday, who was less than 35% for the season from deep for the New Orleans Pelicans who finished with a franchise-record 16.
The Wizards (9-12) have had a habit of allowing teams to torch them from distance: The Dallas Mavericks made 16-for-31, the Oklahoma City Thunder made 15 of 23, the Indiana Pacers made 19 of 26 and the Toronto Raptors made 11 of 24. All were losses.
While they achieved their primary objective to prevent Anthony Davis from exploding by fronting him Friday, not getting out to the shooters on time backfired. It's understandable why Evans was left alone.
"Our game plan was let's see if he can make them," point guard John Wall said. "We contested them, but it was a night where he was making them."
Garrett Temple, usually even-keeled even after losses, was angry at himself for allowing Evans to find a rhythm.
"I'm tired of the moral victories. We're professionals. We're not playing in a YMCA league," said Temple, who started at shooting guard with Bradley Beal out with soreness in his lower right leg. "Honestly, who cares about effort if you can't get wins. We got to win games, man. We got the guys no matter who suits up."
Davis' only three came at 2:35 to tie the score at 103. It wasn't even clean. The ball did a dance around the rim before falling in. The Wizards were leading 27-26 to end the first quarter until a 45-foot heave from Holiday to beat the buzzer went in. In the end, the Pelicans made 16 of 27 for 59.3%. And they didn't have Ryan Anderson because he was out sick.
The Wizards led 86-79 early in the fourth and Evans made consecutive threes. Eric Gordon, who is shooting 35.2% for the season, shot 3-for-7 from three for New Orleans.
"We gave up too many threes. We got to find a way to contain teams that shoot threes. Tyreke Evans hasn't shot a great percentage from three and he comes out and hits five," Temple, considered the Wizards' best one-on-one defender. "They have 16 as a team and they're one of the last teams in terms of shooting threes. We got to figure out a way to keep teams off the three-point line but not give up blow-bys.
"I take a lot of responsibility for a couple of Tyreke's threes. Eric's threes. Trying to know my personnel but when Tyreke hits one or two you got to respect him and get into him. Make him beat you in other ways. I think it was more individual defense. We were keying on Anthony obviously but he didn't put us out of position that we couldn't contest and get them off the three-point line."
Wall went back to something he has said before, when the Wizards changed course to a more open-court offensive style and little attention being paid to defense since training camp.
"Everybody was locked in, preach defense, preach defense, preach defense," Wall said of the previous three seasons when the Wizards were a top 10 scoring defense. "This year was kind of backwards. We were trying to preach offense and preach defense last."