Wizards lose to Nuggets without Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma, have lost 9 of 11

Wizards fall to Nuggets, have lost 9 of 11 originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington


WASHINGTON — The Washington Wizards lost to the Denver Nuggets 118-104 on Wednesday night at Capital One Arena. Here are five takeaways from what went down…

9 of 11

The Denver Nuggets reminded the Wizards why they are the No. 1 team in the Western Conference on Wednesday night, it just took them a few quarters to do so. The Wizards were up by two points at halftime, only to get blasted 39-16 in the third quarter. That set the stage for a Nuggets win and for the Wizards their ninth loss in 11 games.

Washington has lost seven of their last eight, now with only nine games left in the regular season. They continue to trend downward and quickly when they would prefer to be making a push toward the playoffs.

The Wizards played this game without both Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma. The loss dropped the Wizards to 32-41 on the year overall. That marks their fifth straight year without a winning season.

3-point shooting

In today’s NBA many games are won and lost at the 3-point line and lately, the Wizards have had some major issues on both ends of the floor. That continued in this game, as they only shot 4-for-26 (15.4%) from deep compared to 15-for-32 (46.9%) for the Nuggets. That’s a difference of 11 threes, or in other words 33 points.

It’s hard to win games like that. The Wizards have been fairly decent at preventing threes this season, but have leveled out to below-average at making them. It appears to once again be a prevailing need as they near the offseason. They have made some strides in that area, but clearly not enough to consider it a strength.

Turbo turned up

Deni Avdija took Kuzma’s place in the starting lineup and made the most of it. He found consistent lanes to the basket driving with his right hand en route to 16 points for the game, including 14 in the first half. Avdija got to the cup on the fastbreak and also through contact in the halfcourt and transition. Once Avdija got a few to go down, he expanded his range, including with a deft fadeaway jumper on the baseline. He shot 7-for-9 for the game.

Avdija’s best play may have been a pass to Daniel Gafford. Avdija came off a screen set by the Landlord and patiently dribbled between three defenders before tossing a perfectly timed lob for an alley-oop. Gafford took care of the rest. This is why head coach Wes Unseld Jr. has been so intrigued by Avdija as a pick-and-roll ballhandler for the last two years. There is obvious potential.

Kispert’s new move

Corey Kispert has established himself as the best shooter on the Wizards, as he’s been exactly as advertised from 3-point range. He’s lethal from deep, especially on catch-and-shoot plays when he has his feet set. The trick for him moving forward will be increasing his volume and he may have to improve at creating his own shot in order to do that.

In this game, he showed some flashes, though. On one play in particular in the second quarter, Kispert executed a very nice stepback three. It was quick, it was sharp and it was smooth. It looked like he’s been working on a lot behind the scenes. Kispert closed last season, his rookie year, very strong and seems to be getting more and more comfortable as this one winds down. Unfortunately for him, that was the only three he got to fall out of seven attempts. He shot 3-for-10 overall and 1-for-7 from deep.

Davis’ reverse layup

Speaking of not-before-seen plays by recent Wizards first-round picks, Johnny Davis also went a little deeper in his bag in this one. He drove baseline in the second quarter for a crafty reverse layup that displayed athleticism and the type of assertiveness that has eluded him at times during his rookie year.

You could tell it took the Wizards’ bench by surprise. Everyone knows the talent is there with Davis, he just hasn’t been able to show it very often at the NBA level. That one play must have done wonders for his confidence, as it reminded him he’s quick enough to beat defenders to the rim. He had seven points in 23 minutes for the night.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner, NBC Sports Washington. Sign up for NBC Sports Washington’s free email subscription today.

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