The Washington Wizards lost to the Clippers 115-109 in Los Angeles on Wednesday night. Here are five observations from what went down...
It may not be as bad as their losing streak in San Antonio, which dates back to 1999, but the Wizards have had major trouble playing in L.A. against the Clippers and that continued on Wednesday night, as they lost for the 14th straight time.
The drought goes all the way back to 2008, which mind you was three years before Chris Paul showed up and 'Lob City' was formed. It goes back to when the Clippers were perennial losers.
Nowadays, they are much better and have made overcoming injuries their calling card. In this game, they were without Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Normal Powell and Robert Covington. Guys like Reggie Jackson (31 points) and Marcus Morris Sr. (27 points) were more than enough.
The Wizards opened a four-game Western Conference road trip with the loss, which dropped them to 29-35 on the season.
Porzingis Game 2
It was the second showing for Kristaps Porzingis in a Wizards uniform and with it, we saw a little bit more of his offensive skill set. Porzingis made a series of standout plays off the dribble, including a quick dash through the lane for a two-handed slam and a hesitation into a spin move around Amir Coffey for an and-1. Porzingis had 19 points in 26 minutes on 8-for-14 shooting, though only one rebound. He was solid overall, but couldn't come through on two key possessions late when the Wizards went to him in the post looking for clutch baskets.
What stood out most in this one was the one-two combination he and Daniel Gafford produced at center. Gafford was feasting off lobs from Ish Smith to the tune of 14 points (7-11 FG) and 10 rebounds. He and Smith are perfectly suited for each other in the pick-and-roll. Gafford also seems to be perfectly tailored for the No. 2 center spot. Even with this loss, the Wizards are now 19-9 in games he comes off the bench compared to 23-27 when he starts. He's really good in the No. 2 center role. We saw that last year and we're seeing it again now.
Over the past several weeks, the Wizards have enjoyed newfound success shooting from 3-point range. While they were the worst outside shooting team in the league before the trade deadline, in the 10 games since they have been the most accurate. Because of that, it was a surprise to see them reach halftime shooting just 2-for-11 from beyond the arc. Granted, the Clippers are a top-10 3-point defense.
The Wizards were able to break out in the second half to end up shooting 10-for-27 from deep for the game, good for a respectable 37%. Corey Kispert led that cause with three triples, while Porzingis and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added two apiece. While it wasn't their best 3-point shooting night, they showed they can turn things around midgame after a rough start which is a good trait to have.
Rui was hot
The Wizards saw Rui Hachimura get going early in this one. He came out tearing it up on the fastbreak en route to 11 points in his first five minutes. Smith found him for a transition dunk, while Kyle Kuzma hit him on a jump pass from the wing for an easy layup out of the dunker's spot. Hachimura also made some plays for himself including a nifty Eurostep for a layup in the second quarter. In the third quarter, he drove into the lane and dropped in a right-handed floater.
Hachimura ended up with 18 points (7-10 FG) and three rebounds. He shot 1-for-4 from deep, extending his streak of at least one made three to 11 games. Hachimura looks increasingly aggressive and comfortable on the offensive end. He continues to trend upward in his development, now just 24 games into his third NBA season. With 18 games left on the schedule, he appears to be gearing up for a strong finish to the year.
Neto played and looked well
By the looks of Raul Neto's left ankle injury over the weekend, it seemed fairly likely he would miss at least a game, if not several. He had to leave the Wizards' win over the Pacers after rolling it badly on a play under the rim. Neto, though, amazingly wasn't even on the injury report going into Wednesday's matchup with the Clippers. And not only did he play, but he also had a solid game.
Neto came out with eight points in the first quarter and finished with 12 for the game. He shot 3-for-6 from the field and added four assists. It was his eighth time in 11 games reaching double-figures and one of the three he didn't get there was Sunday when he left in the first half. Neto has been more consistent scoring the ball since the trade deadline.