The Washington Wizards lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers 116-113 on Tuesday night. Here are five observations from the game...
1. The Wizards can’t win on the road this season and, yes, that also means in Cleveland.
The Cavs may have the worst record in the NBA, but they swept the Wizards this year at Quicken Loans Arena. Neither game was really that close. Though the Wizards stormed back on Tuesday night, they trailed by as many as 25 points and didn't show life until garbage time.
Given how poorly their regular rotation played, the loss represented a dose of reality for the Wizards, the type that raises questions about all that momentum they had recently built. It was the type of defeat that makes things slightly less certain with a week-plus left before the trade deadline.
The Wizards are now 6-20 on the road this season. They lost 21 road games all of last year. If they don't sort this out, the playoffs will be tough to achieve.
The good news is that the Wizards have a game the very next night. It is against a tough Pacers team, still formidable without Victor Oladipo, but they have a chance to put this loss behind them quickly. Keep in mind they are 6-2 in the second game of back-to-backs.
2. The starters deserve little credit for this game being decided by three points. It was all the back end of their bench as the Cavs built a lead to 25 points midway through the fourth quarter. Head coach Scott Brooks then turned to a motley crew led by Jordan McRae and Gary Payton II.
The young guys brought hunger and energy to the floor and quickly chipped away at the deficit, bringing the game to within three for a final possession with 11 seconds remaining. The Wizards, though, failed to get a shot off as Troy Brown Jr. lost the ball in a trap.
Ideally, the ball would have made it into McRae's hands, but it didn't and the Wizards fell just short of what would have been an epic comeback.
3. Apparently the polar vortex has also affected Otto Porter Jr. This is now four straight games where his shot has not been falling.
He labored through a 5-for-12 night against Cleveland. He shot 1-for-5 from three and had only 11 points.
Over his last four games, Porter is averaging 10.3 points while shooting 31.3 percent from the field (16-for-51) and 24 percent from three (6-for-25). It's hard for the Wizards to win with their injury-depleted roster if Porter plays like that.
4. Tristan Thompson didn’t even play due to injury, yet the Wizards still couldn’t compete on the glass. They were out-done 48-to-36 in the rebounding department. Ante Zizic had 12 boards and Larry Nance Jr. had 11.
The Wizards are 11-0 this season when they out-rebound their opponents. But now they are 10-29 in games in which they don’t.
The Wizards have struggled with rebounding all season, but not being able to take advantage of Thompson’s absence is a serious indictment.
5. Thomas Bryant didn’t have his best game in this one. He had five points and eight rebounds and shot 1-for-5.
Bryant, though, knocked down a three in the first half and is now 14-for-35 from long range on the season, good enough for 40 percent. That’s not a ton of attempts, but he has done an excellent job of being selective with his outside shots.
When the Wizards acquired Bryant, he appeared to have potential as an outside shooter based on his college and G-League numbers. So far, his shot has come along nicely.
Bryant continues to impress at just 21 years old. He is going to be a fascinating case this summer if he hits restricted free agency. Though he hasn't had a large sample size, someone will probably want to take a flier on him, given his age and athleticism.
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