The Washington Wizards lost to the Portland Trail Blazers 119-109 on Sunday night. Here are five observations from the game...
Not good: It just keeps getting worse. The Wizards have been playing a sleepy, uninspired brand of basketball in recent games and on Sunday they met a Blazers team that does just the opposite.
The result was probably predictable. Though the Wizards edged the Blazers last month in Portland, this time they lost a game that was nowhere near as close as the final score suggested.
Portland led by as many as 29 points and the Wizards only cut that down late when head coach Scott Brooks emptied his bench. He brought in a host of young guys who were hungry and just happy to be playing like Troy Brown Jr. and Thomas Bryant. Hopefully the starters, who have been missing those qualities, were paying attention.
These teams are currently on two entirely different trajectories. The Blazers are trending up, while the Wizards, who have lost two straight, are sliding quickly.
Washington is now 5-11 on the season. That's worse than their mark at this point two years ago when they mounted the famous comeback.
Howard hurt again: Things were already going terribly for the Wizards when they got much worse. Dwight Howard, who was coming off a huge game against the Nets, left in the second quarter after aggravating his strained lower back muscle injury.
Howard, of course, missed the first seven games of the year with the injury, which has also been referred to as gluteal soreness. We knew he was still dealing with discomfort when he came back and it has never really gone away.
The injury affects his ability to run and jump. He can't even sit on the bench because of the pain. The fact it's bothering him enough to leave a game is a really bad sign.
Too many fouls: Just like last game, Howard found himself entangled in foul trouble and this time he got started earlier. By the midway point of the first quarter, he had two. By the 5:30 mark of the second quarter, he had three.
At least against the Nets on Friday, Howard was effective when he was on the floor. This time, he couldn't find a rhythm. His time on the court was basically a wash.
These two games show just how easy it is for Howard to rack up fouls and how much it hurts the Wizards when he gets in foul trouble.
Horrid start: The Wizards have had some lifeless stretches this season, far too often for the talent they have on the roster. The way they began this game was them at their absolute worst.
They just couldn't keep up with the Blazers, who were zipping the ball around the court to find open shooters. Portland built a 20-point lead in the first quarter, 32-12, as they shot 7-for-9 from three. The seventh was a wide open look by C.J. McCollum.
That's C.J. McCollum, as in one of the best shooting guards in basketball. Somehow the Wizards completely lost him and paid for it. Those are the types of plays that are hard to excuse.
Bright spots: If there were any positives to draw from this game, it was the play of Kelly Oubre Jr. and Tomas Satoransky. Neither shot the ball well, but their energy and effort were noticeable on a night when most of their teammates just didn't have it.
They were among the few Wizards players active on defense and closing out on the three-point line. They helped key a 13-0 run to end the first quarter and helped the team show some life in the second half when the game was already out of hand.
Oubre finished with 19 points, four assists, four rebounds, and three blocks. He was +14. Satoransky had 10 points, seven assists and was +22. If Brooks wants some more energy from his team, those two could provide it.
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