Kuzma laments Wizards' lack of consistency


WASHINGTON -- Saturday's loss to the Portland Trail Blazers followed a familiar pattern for the Wizards this season. Though at a 22-21 record they have won more than half of their games, consistency has eluded them, perhaps more frustratingly on the defensive end.

Against Portland, the Wizards were lit up in the first half to the tune of 68 points on 11 threes, seven by Anfernee Simons who had 26 points by halftime. The Wizards trailed by as many as 18 points, but charged back thanks to a much better defensive performance in the second half, only to fall just short at the end.

The Wizards played very well defensively in the second half, allowing only 47 points on 39% shooting, but one good half was not enough to get the victory, even against a Blazers team that was missing both Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.

"It's just tough that we just can't be consistent," Kyle Kuzma said. "We can do it for a quarter, we can do it for a half. We haven't necessarily done it for 48 minutes. That's just the frustrating part."

Indeed, the Wizards haven't put in many complete defensive performances in the last several months. After holding their opponents under 100 points six times in their first 14 games, they have only done that twice in their last 29 games.

Usually, they are only good for one solid defensive quarter or two and that is even against teams that generally struggle offensively. The Thunder, for instance, has the 30th-ranked offense but scored 118 on the Wizards on Tuesday.


The Wizards' offense has shown progress lately as they have gotten healthier and have emphasized pace in transition. But their continued defensive shortcomings has both lost them games and made their wins more interesting than they needed to be.

The Wizards had won three straight games entering Saturday's matchup, so as guard Spencer Dinwiddie remarked postgame "the sky isn't falling." Still, Saturday was a missed opportunity at home against a depleted team. A win would have come in handy before their schedule heats up beginning Monday when they host Joel Embiid and the Sixers.

Kuzma, for one, was hoping this game could be another step towards the team taking off on a longer win streak.

"It's just something that we have dealt with all year and our record shows. We're just .500 or a little bit over .500, it's back and forth. A lot of it is consistency, that's our issue," he said.

Turnovers were a major problem for the Wizards against Portland. They had 20 turnovers for the game which led to 21 points for the Blazers. Kuzma had five himself, including a badly timed one in the final minute as the Wizards were making their final push.

While turnovers and first-half defense were the biggest problems for the Wizards on Saturday, it has varied from game to game. Sometimes they can't control the paint, sometimes their shots just aren't falling.

Dinwiddie said it isn't a matter of effort. It's about everyone being on the same page.

"It's about being dialed in and focused and playing to your identity more times than not," he said.

The Wizards have hoped to establish and maintain a defensive identity. Early on this season, when they started 10-3, they seemed to have one. They ranked fourth in defensive efficiency. Since they are 12-18 and rank 26th.

As the Wizards search for consistency, the defensive end seems to be the place to find it. It's just doing so has been much easier said than done.