Wizards wrap up West Coast road trip with loss to Warriors originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The Washington Wizards lost to the Golden State Warriors 126-112 on Monday night. Here are five observations from what went down…
Losers in 7 of 9
The Wizards traveled through Los Angeles, Portland and San Francisco, playing four games along the way, and will return home to Washington with nothing to show for it. They lost to the Warriors on Monday night to complete the road trip sweep, which did significant damage to their hopes of making the play-in tournament.
Golden State was their toughest stop, as they had to deal with the legendary backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Both guards played well to lead the Warriors, Curry with 47 points and Thompson with 20. They set the tone for a Warriors outside shooting barrage that saw them hit 18 3-pointers.
Curry’s 47 points marked the third straight game an opposing player has dropped 40-plus on the Wizards. LeBron James got 50 on them Friday night and then Josh Hart scored 44 the next night. They happen to see Nikola Jokic, the favorite for this year’s MVP award, up next on Wednesday.
The Wizards have now lost seven of their last nine games overall and their fourth straight. They now trail the Hornets by four games for the final spot in the play-in tournament, a gap that will be difficult to overcome with only 15 games left on their schedule. The Wizards are now nine games under .500 at 29-38 on the year.
Porzingis was back
After sitting the second game of a back-to-back on Saturday, Kristaps Porzingis returned to the Wizards’ lineup to play his fourth game with the team. He put together a solid line of 25 points and eight rebounds. Along the way, there were some very good signs from him and Kyle Kuzma. They have unique potential as an offensive duo at the four and the five and this game was the best example so far of what they could someday be. Kuzma made a series of plays off the dribble to find Porzingis looks at the basket that you just don’t often see from a four setting up a five. Porzingis, meanwhile, found Kuzma with a nice pocket pass from the top of the key as the latter cut to the rim.
Before the game, head coach Wes Unseld Jr. was asked about Porzingis and back-to-backs, as the Wizards have four more of them left on their schedule, including this weekend against the Knicks and the Lakers. In somewhat of a surprise, Unseld Jr. indicated Porzingis won’t have to sit out any of those games. Even though Porzingis isn’t coming back from a serious injury, the Wizards had been practicing extra caution, in part because of where they are in the standings. But Porzingis is playing well and looking healthy, so apparently, they don’t feel need to continue doing that.Draymond returned
This was probably going to be a tough game for the Wizards to win, given it was the much-awaited return of Draymond Green, who had been out since Jan. 9 with a combination of injuries. Not only was he back, he took the floor with Curry and Thompson for the first time in 1,005 days, once again reuniting one of the greatest trios in NBA history. Plus, the game was at home, so it was a special night for the Warriors all around.
Green looked good, per usual. He quickly hit a three after coming in off the bench and finished with a balanced stat-line of six points, seven rebounds and six assists. Somehow, the Warriors maintained the No. 1 defense in the NBA even while playing without him for two months. But now that Green is back, the Warriors may have reinstalled themselves as the favorites to win the NBA title this year. They have the third-best record in the league, but it’s going to be hard to bet against those three if they stay healthy.
Hachimura stays hot
The more he makes threes, the more Rui Hachimura’s outside shooting is becoming one of the very best and most encouraging parts of this Wizards season. He’s been a completely different player in that regard, now 27 games in and still looking like the best shooter in the Wizards. On Monday, he hit two threes shortly after entering the game and ended up with 12 points, going 2-for-2 from long range.
It was the 14th straight game Hachimura has made at least one three, which is a season-high streak among Wizards this season. It was also the 11th time this year he had made multiple threes, again in 27 games. Last season, he did that only nine times in 57 games. As a rookie, he hit multiple threes five times in 48 games. Hachimura is now shooting 52.2% from deep this season overall. He’s been lights-out and is showing no signs of cooling off.
Avdija was better
One of the positive developments in this game for the Wizards was the play of Deni Avdija, who managed 13 points after going scoreless in his previous three games. Avdija was 0-for-10 from the field in those games, but came out to hit his first two shots in this one. He got started with a layup through some contact under the rim, then sank a catch-and-shoot three from the wing. Avdija put in a decent game, also with four assists and three rebounds, shooting 4-for-8 from the field.
Avdija may be hitting a bit of a wall, now 67 games into his second season. He only played in 54 games his rookie year and, though he was a professional before jumping to the NBA, never played more than 26 games in a EuroLeague season. Part of the adjustment as a young NBA player is getting acclimated to an 82-game schedule, both physically and mentally. Unseld Jr. has been asked a few times recently about Avdija’s struggles and has offered up several reasons, fatigue and him needing to relax among them.