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Wizards' defense continues to be a major problem, now to historic degree

Wizards' defense continues to be a major problem, now to historic degree

The Wizards have a very serious problem and getting Dwight Howard back won't alone fix it.

Through six games, they are not just bad on defense, they have legitimately been the worst defensive team in the NBA. After surrendering 136 points to the Clippers on Sunday night, the Wizards kept their crown for the highest points allowed average of any team this season, now at a robust 125 per contest.

In fact, it's been a long time since a team was giving up points like these Wizards. Through six games, Washington has allowed 750 points. No team has given up that many through six games since the 1990-91 Denver Nuggets. 

The Wizards' effort against the Clippers may have been their most confounding yet. Actually, no. It was, it was their worst yet.

Because it's one thing to give up a billion points to the Warriors or the Blazers, or even the Kings whom they at least kept it close against. The Clippers, a mediocre team at best, blasted the Wizards by 32 points. L.A.'s 136 points were the most they have put up in regulation since 2014.

The Clippers had nine different players reach double figures and none of them played more than 30 minutes. They shot 54.4 percent from the field and 55.2 percent from three.

Now, L.A. is a better offensive team than they are given credit for. They were ninth in the NBA in points scored last season and eighth in offensive rating. This year they are averaging 116.8 points, good for eighth in the league.

But the ways in which the Clippers got their points were inexcusable for the Wizards. L.A. hit 16 threes, or nearly twice their season average (8.2) entering the game. Tobias Harris (22 points, 11 rebounds) and Avery Bradley (15 points, 6-for-12 FG, 3-for-6 3PT) broke free off screens way too easily. 

Despite him playing last season in Washington, they seemed to forget Mike Scott (11 points, 4-for-5 FG) was on the floor on several occasions. He drifted away from the defense to knock down open looks from the perimeter.

Montrezl Harrell (13 points, 6-for-7 FG) cleaned up in the paint as the Wizards failed to match his effort and energy. On a night when the Wizards were just going through the motions on defense, Harrell was there to take advantage.

This was a thorough beatdown. The Wizards have lost by 32 points or more only 10 times in the last 10 years. This could very well go down as the most lopsided defeat of their season.

The Wizards have to fix their defensive problems and soon. When Howard returns to make his season debut, possibly this coming week, that should help. He is their best rim protector and, perhaps most importantly, their best defensive rebounder. 

Even when the Wizards get stops, they have trouble converting them into possessions of their own. They were out-done 57-45 on the glass against the Clippers.

But if they bring Howard back and change little else, the Wizards will still have difficulty stopping other teams from scoring. It has to start at the perimeter where their guards and wings are allowing too many open looks. 

Washington collectively has to close on three-point shots, they have to make quick and smart decisions on screens. They have to cut off passing lanes and secure rebounds off misses.

The Wizards entered this season hoping to be a top-10 defense. As of now, they are worse than bad. They are historically inept, and they have to figure out how to stop it.

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Davis Bertans' incredible start to the season, by the numbers

Davis Bertans' incredible start to the season, by the numbers

Davis Bertans was on fire once again on Tuesday night in the Wizards' loss to the Charlotte Hornets, as the Latvian Laser continues his breakout season in Washington hitting threes at a historic rate. Here are some numbers to put what he is doing in perspective...

32

Bertans had 32 points in Tuesday's game, the ninth time he has scored 20 or more already this season. He had scored 20-plus points only three times previously in his career.

6

Bertans has made six or more threes in a game six times already this season, including four times this month. Before he joined the Wizards, he had done it twice as an NBA player.

8

Bertans is one of only seven players in Wizards/Bullets franchise history to make eight threes or more in a game. The others are Gilbert Arenas, Trevor Ariza, Bradley Beal, Bojan Bogdanovic, Rex Chapman and DeShawn Stevenson. Only Beal (nine) and Ariza (10) have made more than eight.

92

Bertans has made 92 threes through 23 games this season. The ony players who have made more through this point in NBA history are James Harden and Stephen Curry. The previous high for a Wizards/Bullets player was 72 (Arenas).

328

The 92 threes in 23 games has Bertans averaging four per game and on pace to make 328 on the season. Only two players have ever made 300-plus threes; Harden and Curry. The record is 402, by Curry in 2015-16.

4

Bertans has made four threes or more in six straight games and five or more in four straight. Both are franchise records. During this six-game stretch, Bertans is 36-for-71 (50.7%) from long range.

9.6

Bertans is making most of his threes on catch-and-shoot plays and leads the league in most related categories. He is tops in the NBA in points off catch-and-shoot plays (9.6/g), field goals made (3.2/g) and three-pointers made (3.1).

70.8

A whopping 70.8 percent of Bertans' shot attempts this season have come from three-point range. The next highest percentage for a Wizards player is 34.6 percent, by Moe Wagner.

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Ish Smith helps mop the court during a timeout

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NBC Sports Washington

Ish Smith helps mop the court during a timeout

As a guard, Ish Smith is asked to do a lot on the court. Pass, shoot, and defend, the Wizards need him to do it all in order to succeed. On Tuesday, however, Smith demonstrated another on-court intangible that isn't always seen from NBA players: cleaning.

During the final moments of what would be a 114-107 loss to the Hornets, the game came to a halt in order to mop up a wet spot on the court. Smith happened to find himself near the large mop under the baseline, grabbed it and began helping out the worker. 

Overall, it's pretty good form here from Smith. He bent his knees, extended his arms and had a solid motion with the mop. Smith finished the night with 13 points and five assists in the boxscore, but this sixth assist was his most innovative.

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