The Washington Wizards lost to the Miami Heat 112-97 on the road on Thursday night. Here are five observations from what went down...
The Wizards came out of the gate this season looking so good and doing things not seen in so long that they really didn't show very many cracks, if any, for weeks on end. Eventually, they were going to hit some speed bumps as all teams do and that's exactly what has happened in their last two games.
Really, it's been a game and a half. Ever since they came out of halftime against the Hornets on Wednesday night, they haven't looked like the structured and polished group we saw for the better part of their first 13-plus games.
They got a bit of a reality check against the Heat on Thursday night in their second consecutive loss. Though it's not the first time they have lost two straight games this year, these last two games are probably the worst they have looked.
It may be as simple as their injuries finally caught up to them, but Miami was also not whole. They were missing Tyler Herro, who is in the middle of a breakout season. Jimmy Butler (32 points, four steals) and Bam Adebayo (20 points, nine rebounds) were just too much on both ends of the floor.
The Wizards are now 10-5 on the year. Their next two opponents are the two teams they just saw. They host the Heat on Saturday and then the Hornets on Monday. That will give them two good chances to rebound.
Offense is cold
The Wizards came out in the first quarter and managed only 19 points. They then scored 21 in the second quarter and with only 40 in the first half did enough to squander a strong defensive start. That opened the door for the Heat, who caught fire in the third quarter and lit them up from three all the way towards an 18-point lead.
The Wizards' scoring troubles were a continuation of their game on Wednesday against the Hornets. With 36 points in the second half of that loss, they scored 76 points across a stretch of four quarters. That's exceptionally low for an NBA team, especially in this era.
The Wizards shot a solid 49.4% overall, but they also had 17 turnovers and went just 6-for-10 from the free throw line. Butler went 10-for-10 from the line himself. Bradley Beal (30 points, 11-18 FG) and Kyle Kuzma (19 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists) were the biggest bright spots.
Better from three
Despite a rough night offensively, the Wizards did shoot much better from 3-point range than they did the night before in Charlotte. After going 8-for-42 from deep against the Hornets, the Wizards shot 15-for-36 from three in this one. That was good for 41.7%.
The Wizards were 7-for-17 at halftime as they did a decent job making the Heat pay for giving them open looks. Miami employed a 2-3 zone for much of the night and the Wizards were able to create shots from the outside. They just didn't do a good enough job getting into the paint and to the rim. They were outdone in the paint 50 points to 40 by the Heat.
Kispert got going
Part of that 3-point effort was a bit of a breakout game for rookie Corey Kispert. The 15th overall pick set a career-high with 13 points, going 3-for-7 from three. He popped off for three 3-pointers in the first half alone, all of them the catch-and-shoot variety.
Kispert has been getting consistent minutes lately with Davis Bertans still on the mend. This was his ninth straight game playing 10-plus minutes. Each game he's gotten some decent looks from three, they just haven't fallen. It's not like he has been completely shut out of open shots. It seems like all he needs is experience and to get more comfortable given how consistent he was shooting from long range in college.
Gafford didn't play
The Wizards were down a whole lineup of rotation players against the Heat. In addition to the usual absences of Bertans (ankle), Rui Hachimura (personal reasons) and Thomas Bryant (ACL rehab), they were also missing Daniel Gafford and Spencer Dinwiddie. Dinwiddie wasn't injured, he just sat out the second night of a back-to-back to rest as he is still only 10 months removed from ACL surgery.
Gafford, though, is now injured, as he was listed questionable with a sprained right thumb before it was determined he wouldn't play. Head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said pregame he thought he would play, but after he was evaluated further by the medical staff, they thought against it. Since he was that close, it is likely a minor injury, but the Wizards certainly missed him against the Heat. They are now 2-1 in games he doesn't play.