In a rar­ity, it’s o≠ense that fails Wizards

HOR­NETS 98, WIZARDS 93

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY CAN­DACE BUCK­NER

char­lotte — The Washington Wizards have spent much of this sea­son vac­il­lat­ing be­tween playing de­fense or not, yet their of­fense has been a con­stant. On Satur­day night, their shot-mak­ing abil­ity failed in an ugly 98-93 loss to the Char­lotte Hor­nets.

The Wizards (42-27) could not over­come a mea­ger three-point deficit at the start of the fourth quar­ter, sim­ply be­cause they were un­able to make shots. No Washington player made more than six shots on the night. Bradley Beal drained a three-pointer with 1:04 to play, trim­ming the Wizards’ deficit to four, but Washington could not pro­duce an­other clutch make. On the team’s next of­fen­sive pos­ses­sion, John Wall hur­tled to the rim for a wild layup that went awry.

When the Wizards had a chance to tie the score on their last true of­fen­sive play, Beal’s three ric­o­cheted off the front rim and Char­lotte’s Marvin Wil­liams se­cured the re­bound, then sealed the game by mak­ing a pair of free throws with 9.6 sec­onds re­main­ing. Al­though Washington held Char­lotte un­der 100 points and lim­ited the Hor­nets to 42.7 per­cent shoot­ing, the Wizards’ of­fen­sive ex­e­cu­tion did not live up to the de­fen­sive per­for­mance.

“It was def­i­nitely a hard-fought phys­i­cal game,” Coach Scott Brooks said. “I love our guys’ ef­fort [on a] back-to-back. We came with a great en­ergy and juice on the de­fen­sive end. Give them credit. They de­fended just as well as we

did but made a few more shots than us. We just couldn’t make shots.”

Wall fin­ished with 19 points (5for-16 shoot­ing), while Beal added 18 (6 for 14) and Otto Porter Jr. (4 for 11) scored 16 — but Washington shot a sea­son-low 36.7 per­cent from the field while blow­ing 22 looks from be­yond the three-point arc.

“It was one of those nights where you just couldn’t make shots,” Wall said. “I think we did a great job of mov­ing the ball, guys got great looks, missed a cou­ple free throws that hurt us, but other than that, we just couldn’t get into a rhythm. Couldn’t make shots.”

The pace of the game slowed to a crawl mid­way through the first quar­ter and con­tin­ued through the half as both teams shot un­der 36 per­cent and com­bined for only 26 made field goals. Such rudi­men­tary of­fense might have been ex­pected for Char­lotte (30-39) — on Wed­nes­day, the team scored a sea­son-low 77 points in a road loss to the In­di­ana Pac­ers. But for the Wizards, who en­tered with the fifth-high­est scor­ing av­er­age in the NBA (109.1 points per game), the first half was a rare “F” in a sea­son’s worth of of­fen­sive mas­ter classes.

It didn’t help that Beal picked up two fouls in the first quar­ter and two other pri­mary scor­ing options — Wall and Porter — missed 8 of 10 shots in the first 12 min­utes.

“Ob­vi­ously,” Hor­nets Coach Steve Clifford said, “it wasn’t a pretty game to watch.”

Through the sec­ond quar­ter, the Wizards’ re­serve unit couldn’t brighten the game as four of the five bench play­ers made just one shot apiece and com­bined to shoot 26 per­cent through the half.

While the Hor­nets showed signs in the third quar­ter of break­ing out of their of­fen­sive funk, Wall inched closer to the edge.

Late in the quar­ter, af­ter Wall was fouled, a con­ver­sa­tion be­tween Wall and Char­lotte’s Frank Kamin­sky crossed the line in the view of of­fi­cial Danny Craw­ford. Both re­ceived tech­ni­cal fouls, but Wall, who has 14 on the sea­son, now must avoid get­ting his 16th be­fore the end of the reg­u­lar sea­son to avoid a one-game sus­pen­sion as well as a $5,000 fine.

“It was just a back-and-forth talk. Just a com­mon talk you have,” Wall said, ex­plain­ing his ex­change with Kamin­sky over a foul call, “and Danny just came in and said: ‘Tech­ni­cal fouls.’ I’ve heard worse than that be­fore and vul­gar words have been said, which weren’t said then [with Kamin­sky], and then they just slap a tech­ni­cal foul. I’m get­ting tired of it.”

By the fourth quar­ter, at last, the teams be­gan to make shots. Kamin­sky de­voured his matchup against cen­ter Ian Mahinmi, mix­ing in a cou­ple of jumpers with one in­te­rior fin­ish. When Kamin­sky (14 points) stretched be­yond the arc for his sec­ond three-pointer of the fourth quar­ter, the Hor­nets opened their largest lead of the game, 78-69 with 7:46 re­main­ing, and held on, thanks to a rare night of of­fen­sive fu­til­ity for the Wizards.

“It’s tough,” Beal said. “We pride our­selves on de­fend­ing, and we de­fended well, but we just couldn’t make any shots.”

JEREMY BREVARD/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

John Wall, who scored 19 points but was 5 for 16 from the field, re­acts af­ter a turnover. He also picked up his 14th tech­ni­cal foul.

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