After failing to complete the comeback against the Toronto Raptors at home on Saturday, the Wizards failed to bounce back against a struggling and injured Charlotte Hornets team. The Wizards were again down by double digits and came back to tie but were unable to take the lead late as they fell 92-88.
The first quarter started with hot shooting by the Hornets and poor defense from the Wizards, déjà vu from the last game. As a result, Randy Wittman was forced to take a timeout a bit over four minutes into the game as the Wizards already faced an early 15-7 deficit. All of that was the result of three Wizards turnovers and the Hornets getting open looks after good ball movement to start the game 7 of 10 from the field. Wittman smartly made adjustments by helping Marcin Gortat against Al Jefferson down low with the show of a double team. For the third straight game, Garrett Temple got extended minutes off the bench and seemed to give the team a much needed boost. At the end of the first quarter, the Wizards methodically cut the earlier deficit of eight in half to 28-24.
The second quarter started with offensive life from the bench led by Temple running the point — not Andre Miller. Wittman addressed that he was doing some searching from his bench after repeated poor performances. It seems that Wittman might have found something with the unit of Temple, Otto Porter, Kris Humphries, and Kevin Seraphin supplemented by the starting scoring from Bradley Beal. Although Lance Stephenson and Gary Neal combined for 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field, the bench was able to hand over the starters a deficit that was cut to one. After the Wizards missed three free throws and a turnover that led to a three point basket in transition, the Hornets were back up by seven. However, in the final two minutes of the half the Wizards went on a 7-2 run inspired by strong defense to cut the deficit to 53-51 at the half.
Coming out of the half, the Wizards looked flat and sloppy. They started 0 of 5 from the floor with good looks but could not convert. Even though Charlotte was also a cold 2 of 8 from the field to start, they got off to an 8-0 run because the Wizards were committing dumb fouls that allowed the Hornets to be in the bonus just four minutes into the quarter. After a few balls started going through the net for both teams, both clubs would start to go cold in the half court set. However, the Wizards finished the quarter on a 8-0 run of their own, fueled by three baskets off of three steals on the defensive end. As was the case in the end of the first and start of the second quarter, Temple and Porter were on the floor when the Wizards clawed back. Going into the last frame of the game, the Wizards were still trailing 70-66.
The fourth quarter started with back and forth body blows from each team Gary Neal hit a three ball to start the quarter and then just as the Wizards had cut it to a one possession game Neal made another one from downtown. After a made jumper, steal, and transition dunk, the Wizards crept back within four points. Then Al Jefferson started going to work down low stretching the lead back out to eight with under three minutes to play in the quarter. Although the Wizards started getting their shots to go through the net, they gave up scores on back to back to back possessions defensively, which was too much to overcome. Desperation shots allowed the Wizards to get within three with the ball with 15 seconds to go in the game, but a missed layup by John Wall was the end for the Wizards. For the second game in a row the Wizards failed to complete the comeback as they lost 92-88 to the Charlotte Hornets
Why the Wizards Lost:
- The Wizards made runs to cut into the Hornets lead multiple times. always getting within a couple possessions, but failing to take the lead for the first time since early in the first quarter cost the Wizards the game.
- In a turn of events, the starters are the units that get beat, while the bench did their best to keep the contest close. The Wizards starters were outscored by approximately 9 points during the course of the game. This can be directly correlated to the lack of production from John Wall offensively who was a miserable 4 of 14 from the field.
- The Wizards had no answer for Al Jefferson defensively. Although Jefferson had a modest 18 points, the necessity to double him on the low block resulted in open shots being taken advantage of with solid ball movement. As fast the Wizards defense would try to rotate, the ball moves faster than the players meaning Brian Roberts, Gerald Henderson, and Gary Neal reaped benefits.
The Wizards will have to travel to Atlanta to face the red hot Hawks, who had won their previous 19 games before losing Monday to the Anthony Davis-led New Orleans Pelicans. It will be important to defend the three against such a team who have successfully relied on it heavily throughout this season.