The Washington Wizards lost to the Golden State Warriors 104-95 on Sunday morning in their second preseason game in Japan. Here are five takeaways from what went down...
A dub for the Dubs
The Wizards weathered an early storm against the Warriors, who came out looking like the defending champs, to build a lead in the second half, only to see the end of Golden State's bench run away with the victory late in the fourth quarter. Once the benches were emptied, Mac McClung and former Go-Go prospect Pat Spencer went to work and closed out the win.
The Wizards, though, played better against the Warriors' starters than they did in the first game. They forced Golden State into 22 turnovers, including 15 in the first half alone. Rui Hachimura again put on a show in front of the Japanese fans with 11 points, 10 rebounds and two steals, including a slew of difficult shots over tight defense. Kristaps Porzingis got hot in the second half and ended up with 18 points, six rebounds and two blocks.
The Wizards played without Bradley Beal, who sat due to rest, and Deni Avdija as he continues to deal with a groin injury. There hasn't been much progress on the Avdija front, but there are still over two weeks until the regular season begins for the Wizards. They won't play another preseason game until the 10th, either, so there should be plenty of practice time once he's ready to take that step.
That next game will be at 7 p.m. ET, by the way. These 6 a.m. and 1 a.m. games have given us all a better appreciation for what the Wizards' international fans go through to watch games all season. Imagine doing this for all 82.
Morris looked good
The Wizards should be very pleased with what they saw from starting point guard Monte Morris on Sunday. First of all, the fact he has started two straight games lets us know that's very likely to be his role, despite the hints he was competing with Delon Wright going into camp. Morris has looked the part, especially in this game, as he came through with 11 points on 5-for-8 shooting in 21 minutes.
Over the summer, at his introductory press conference, Will Barton was asked to describe Morris' game. He said he was a pass-first point guard who is crafty in the midrange, particularly with turnaround jumpers. That scouting report was on the money, as he continues to do damage in the midrange. Morris has great patience and timing to finish through traffic and, just as Barton noted, he sank a smooth turnaround jumper in the first half of this game.
Kispert left with an injury
The Wizards have another injury to monitor, as Corey Kispert left in the first quarter with what is being described by the team as a sprained left ankle. Kispert tweaked it on a play under the basket and immediately signaled to the training staff to come out of the game. He stuck around on the bench, which could be a good sign it was not serious.
Given this is the preseason, it wouldn't take much for him to be ruled out for the rest of the game. But certainly it will be something to keep an eye on, as Kispert figures to be a big part of the second unit as one of the best outside shooters on the team. He has a chance to be their best 3-point shooter this season and 3-point shooting was one of the team's biggest weakness last year. So, they definitely need him. Any absence for him would also be compounded by the fact Avdija plays the same position.
The Wizards did have some positive injury news in this game as Barton was cleared to make his preseason debut after sitting out the opener due to lower back tightness. And with both Avdija and Kispert sidelined, he got plenty of run, pouring in 12 points (1-7 3PT) in 23 minutes. Barton got the start at the two with Beal out, as Hachimura started at the three for the second straight game in front of his home crowd.
It has been hard to decipher what any of head coach Wes Unseld Jr.'s lineup decisions mean thus far given the injuries and the unusual circumstances of them playing in Japan. Their next game may be much more telling. Like, for instance, will Hachimura keep starting, or was that because they were in his home country? If he starts against the Hornets next Monday, then that would be a strong indication it's his job to lose.
Davis showed more
Step by step, Johnny Davis is starting to gain more confidence. It was another game where he struggled on offense (0-7 FG), but Davis flashed some positive signs in other areas. He made a few plays on defense that stood out, including a steal in the open court on a long pass by the Warriors. He also showed good burst while trailing the roll man off a screen. And he dove for a loose ball to earn a possession for the Wizards.
He also made an impact with his rebounding, which was a big part of his game in college. This game may have been a good example of how he can earn playing time this season. It wasn't pretty, but he gave strong effort and attention to the little things, the so-called dirty work. Davis may be able to find an early role as a scrappy glue guy. That could buy him time as his offensive game develops.