Poor interior defense and wasted possessions allowed the Golden State Warriors to walk out of the Verizon Center with a 101-97 win, snapping the Washington Wizards’ two-game home winning streak.
Washington has struggled with teams who shoot well all year long and that created matchup problems all night for the Wizards with Stephen Curry’s Golden State Warriors coming to town. Even though the cards were already stacked against the Wizards, it was the team itself that cost them the game, not the stellar play of the Warriors.
“I think the big difference for tonight is we got just hammered on the boards, second chance points, 11 point difference there,” Wizards Head Coach Randy Wittman said. “Then, you know free throws, get to the line, give nine away there. Different reasons why you lose close games.”
Those matchup issues presented themselves almost immediately too, as the Warriors jumped out to a quick lead on Washington. Working the low post and the deep jumper, Golden State showed why they are so hard to guard throughout the first quarter.
The second quarter began with the Warriors holding onto a slim, but seemingly commanding 28-21 lead. It was not a huge deficit for the Wizards to overcome, but they could not seem to get within five points of the Warriors. That was, until Cartier Martin got involved. In the closing minutes of the second quarter, Martin went on a 6-0 by himself and scored eight of the Wizards’ 10 total points to close the quarter. While the Wizards weren’t able to tie the game, they did come within three points of the lead, heading to the locker room down 50-47.
Rookie Bradley Beal had a rough first half, only scoring two points and missing on easy open looks. Those struggles did not follow him into the second. The graduate of the University of Florida came out on fire, hitting two of his first three shots and scoring six of the Wizards’ first nine points to open the half. Too bad for Washington his hot shooting would not continue and the team just could not close the gap in the third.
“[Starting slow has] been [a problem] for two games now, I have to come out a lot stronger in the first half attacking more,” Beal said following the game. “The second half I was getting to the basket more, starting inside and working my way out. Sometimes I find myself shooting too many threes or settling for too many jump shots.”
Washington gave a way too many possessions and missed too many free throws down the stretch in the third to take the lead. Turnovers killed the red, white and blue, who were down just one point, 71-70 heading into the fourth. It would be a series of missed opportunities for Washington, as the team should have been leading heading into the final quarter.
“We couldn’t get over the hump, I just mentioned that to the guys. Wide open look too knock down, just couldn’t get that push to get over the top,” Wittman said. “Then on top of it, I thought [Klay] Thompson’s three with the clock running down … it goes in. It’s kind of our luck right now.”
Even though Curry was a driving force behind the Warriors’ offense throughout the game, it was David Lee who was killing the Wizards. Entering the fourth quarter he had 18 points and 12 boards, nine of them on the defensive side of the court. While he would sit out at the beginning of the final quarter, Golden State would not need him.
Even without Curry and Lee on the floor, Golden State was able to regain their small, but seemingly huge lead. Baskets from Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes made it 78-72 with three minutes left. As they did all night though, Washington again fought back and took the lead 79-78 after a big Jordan Crawford three. Both teams went back and fourth until Golden State again started to flex their scoring muscles, taking an 88-84 lead.
Washington was not able to get themselves back over the hump, even with the Warriors putting themselves in the double bonus with more than a minute to go. Crawford did his best to get the lead back for the Wizards, at one point hitting back-to-back three-pointers to make it 95-92 with 53-seconds left. Draymond Green would foul out with 16 seconds left to send Martell Webster to the line, but he would only hit one of the two free shots.
Beal followed up Curry’s free throws with a three of his own, but Washington had to foul again and Curry made sure he did not miss either of them. Following the shots, Beal would go to the line at the other end and after making the first shot, he missed the second on purpose, but the Wizards were not able to put the ball in the bucket and ened up fouling Golden State’s Carl Landry to end the game.
Another close lose for the Wizards and suddenly just like last year, they have the exact same 2-15 record they started with. Heading on a two game road trip, a place they haven’t won all year, Washington could be waiting until next weekend to get their next hom e win.