Wizards having issues protecting large leads


WASHINGTON -- Everything was going so well for the Wizards against the Knicks on Friday night. They saw Kristaps Porzingis set a career-high with 19 points in the first quarter, helping them build a 19-point lead in the first half.

But that lead was vanquished by Julius Randle and the Knicks, who went on a 30-7 run from the 5:55 mark in the second quarter until early in the third. The Wizards lost the game and in doing so continued an unfortunate trend for them this season.

That was the 10th time the Wizards have blown a double-digit lead this year. That's tied for the fourth-most in the NBA, according to Sportradar. 

"It's been our trend all year, to be honest," Monte Morris said.

The Wizards have had some trouble keeping their leads especially as of late. They were up by 15 points to the Warriors on Feb. 13. On Feb. 3 and 4 they surrendered leads of 20 points and 23 points to the Blazers and Nets on back-to-back nights.

With the Wizards now at 28-31 on the season and in the middle of the hunt for the play-in tournament, those games could have all come in handy. They are only 1 1/2 games out of eighth in the East.

"If we just win those three games, this whole picture looks completely different," Porzingis said of the losses to the Knicks, Nets and Blazers.


Granted, the Wizards have also been on the other end of some of these double-digit swings. They erased a 20-point deficit to beat the Timberwolves on Feb. 16 on the eve of the All-Star break. In today's NBA, with teams taking and making so many threes, huge point variances happen.

But while the Wizards have given up many large leads, they haven't had enough comebacks to offset them. They have won six games in which they were down by 10 points or more and that is tied for the sixth-fewest in the league, again according to Sportradar.

Many theories were tossed around after Friday's loss to the Knicks. Head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said his team has trouble matching physical play from their opponents, which is a common adjustment made when Washington goes up big. They start to blitz and initiate contact and it can throw off the Wizards' offensive rhythm.

Morris said the Wizards sometimes stop playing as assertively on defense. They get comfortable as other teams find urgency in hopes of a comeback.

Kyle Kuzma said it's about the speed the Wizards play when things are going well compared to when they start to go south.

"Just keep playing with pace. I think a lot of times in the couple of games we've had big leads, we just put our foot off the gas and we're not playing as hard on both ends," he said.

"We're just giving them points and we're just taking it and not doing anything to punch back. It's definitely frustrating, it's very tough, but we've gotta figure it out. There's no crying on the yacht."