It is likely that the Washington Wizards are going to want to forget about the 2015-2016 season once it is all said and done. They will probably have no draft picks and miss the playoffs for the first time since 2013. In Blake Griffin’s first game since Christmas Day, following a quad tear, broken hand, and four-game team suspension, it was the backcourts that defined the game. Washington’s House of Guards were a combined 7 of 28 from the field for just 23 points, while the Clippers guard combination of Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, and Jamal Crawford dropped 64 points on 23 of 44 shooting. The Wizards hung around for much of the game but eventually lost 114-109.
The pick and roll defense was horrendous for Washington to start the game as the Clippers made their first four shots. Behind a 4 of 4 start from the field from Redick, Los Angeles took a commanding 21-8 lead. John Wall exited the game just over four minutes into the game with two personal fouls before picking up a technical on the bench. Randy Wittman was close to getting a technical foul before Markieff Morris actually did as the Wizards were frustrated by officiating frm young referees. Paul finished the quarter with 9 points and 5 assists as the Clippers led 33-23 after one quarter.
Washington was able to cut the deficit to seven early before Los Angeles quickly backed it up to 13. The defense was incrementally better in the second quarter but not consistent enough to string together stops. As a result the Wizards did not put a dent in Los Angeles’ lead which was maintained at double digits for much of the quarter. The road team was able to string together a 15-5 run late in the quarter to cut the pull within seven again but were unable to finish the half of strong. The Clippers sat comfortably at intermission with a 60-49 advantage.
In a suprise turn of events, the Wizards came out of halftime with a chip on their shoulder to force Los Angeles into missing their first six shots from the field. The offense came as a result and Washington was able to pull to within a single points in the midst of a 10-0 run. The fun did not last long as the Clippers came right back with an 8-0 run of their own highlighted by Bradley Beal unable to corral an easy offensive rebound that resulted in a Reddick transition three ball. With their playoff lives likely on the line, Washington headed into the final quarter down 84-73.
Every time the road Wizards tried to rally, it seemed like Crawford hit a big shot to stop the momentum of a comeback. Washington was down 104-94 with three minutes to play and things looked out of reach, but the road team did not go away quietly. Wall (three) and Otto Porter combined for four 3-pointers and when you mix in a successful Hack-A-Jordan, the Clippers lead was suddenly down to three with 47 seconds to play. Unfortunately, Paul hit a dagger 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock to put things away for Los Angeles. Washington fell 114-109.
The Wizards will return home after the five game West Coast swing with a Wednesday night matchup with the Brooklyn Nets.