The Wizards lost to the Blazers on Saturday night despite leading by as much as 17 points and entering the fourth quarter up 10. Once again, they let a winnable game slip away.
If it seems like that has become a trend for the Wizards, that's because it has. Washington has had unusual trouble closing out games so far this season. Their late-game failures stand out among other NBA teams and run counter to what we are used to seeing from the Scott Brooks-led Wizards.
Consider this: of their nine losses, the Wizards entered the fourth quarter leading in five of them. That leads the NBA. In three of those games the Wizards led by double-digits entering the fourth (Lakers, Warriors, Blazers). No other team has more than one such loss.
Last season, the Wizards only lost five games where they entered the fourth quarter with a lead, so they've already tied that mark in just 19 games. Not once in 2016-17 did they lose after leading by 10 points or more at the start of the fourth and only twice had they led by more than two before losing. Prior to this season, they hadn't lost a game after leading by double digits at the end of three quarters since March 31, 2014.
The Wizards losing three games after holding a double-digit lead entering the fourth quarter ties a franchise record. Only three times has a Washington team suffered three such losses in one season (1966-67 and 1994-95).
That is concerning, but also strange. Last season, the Wizards were quite good at closing out games. Now, they are blowing leads on a regular basis.
The NBA defines 'clutch' statistics as numbers recorded in the last five minutes of a game - fourth quarter or overtime - with a score differential of five points or less. In that category, the Wizards have seen a dramatic flip from last season. After being one of the best teams in clutch scenarios, the Wizards are suddenly one of the worst.
Take a look at how their clutch numbers compare to last season:
The Wizards aren't shooting or defending well late in close games. Add it all up and their net rating in clutch scenarios is -37.7, fourth-worst among NBA teams.
The individual numbers aren't much prettier. Otto Porter shot 53.1 percent from the field in the clutch last year, this season he's at 33.3 percent. Bradley Beal is down to 27.6 percent this season after shooting 43.3 percent last year. And John Wall is down from 41.2 percent to 26.1 percent.
The good news is that it's still early and the sample size is relatively small, 11 such games where clutch stats were applicable. Because they were so good in clutch scenarios last season, there is reason for hope, that these numbers will even out over the course of a full 82-game schedule.
That could very well happen. But for now, it's striking how much the Wizards are struggling late in games. It's out of character and it's costing them wins.
Stats via Basketball Reference and NBA.com