Wizards

Wizards' 3-point shooting woes continue vs. Hornets

Wizards

The Wizards were playing a Hornets team ranked 25th in defense and 25th in 3-pointers allowed per game on Wednesday night, but that was not enough to overcome what has been a season-long trend for Washington. Among their limited problem areas, 3-point shooting is chief among them.

Their latest loss, however, took it to the extreme. The Wizards hit just 8-of-42 from long range, good for a ghastly 19%. While teams attempting 40+ threes is much more common these days, usually they make more of them. It was only the 20th time in NBA history a team has taken 40 threes or more and made eight or fewer of those shots.

The Wizards have attempted 40-plus threes now 26 times in franchise history and had made at least nine in each of the previous 25. But so far this season, the 3-pointers haven't been falling consistently for Washington. They entered Wednesday's game ranked 28th in threes made (10.7/g), 26th in attempts (31.8/g) and 20th in percentage (33.7).

Against the Hornets, the Wizards felt like they had plenty of good opportunities.

"Their physicality got to us a bit. I think we generated decent looks for the most part. We stepped up, we just couldn't make them," head coach Wes Unseld Jr.

Unseld Jr. said he thought the Hornets changing to a zone defense in the second half really threw them off. The Wizards scored only 36 points in the second half, including 14 points in the third quarter, a season-low for them in any single quarter.

Bradley Beal thought the Wizards could have attacked the basket and moved the ball more in the second half, to create more shots where guys could step into their motion. But like Unseld Jr., he thought the looks they were generating were mostly solid.

 

"More or less, we've just gotta knock down shots. It's not because of one thing or another, we've just gotta knock them down. We took [42] of them," he said.

That, too, has been a prevailing trend this season. The Wizards shoot a league-worst 29.9% on wide-open threes, when the defender is at least six feet away, according to NBA tracking data.

The Wizards are also creating the fewest wide-open threes of any team at just 12.4 per game. For comparison, the Bucks lead the NBA with 22.6 such opportunities on average. So, nearly double.

Unseld Jr. remarked how the Wizards could see more zone defense on Thursday night as they travel to Miami for the second night of a back-to-back. They will have to counter the zone without Spencer Dinwiddie, who is their best player at driving to the rim, as he rests due to his ACL recovery.

The Heat also allows the eighth-lowest 3-point percentage (32.9) in the league. It won't be easy for the Wizards to find their rhythm.

Beal, though, feels he knows what his role will be.

"I'll probably implement myself more to play the middle of the zone and just create some havoc there. Zones usually collapse when you get the ball into the middle," he said.

Beal, it's worth noting, had his best 3-point shooting night of the season so far with five threes against the Hornets. It was just collectively as a team, the Wizards struggled.

At some point soon they should get Davis Bertans back from his ankle injury and then in December they will see Thomas Bryant return from his ACL recovery. Those two are arguably their best outside shooters.

So, eventually, help will be on the way. In the meantime, it may continue to be a problem they have to find ways to overcome.