Wizards Unable to Overcome Third Quarter Deficit in Loss to Warriors
Capitol One Arena, Washington, DC
After an exhausting three-point win over Milwaukee on Tuesday night, the Washington Wizards fell at home to the defending champs, 109-101.
Otto Porter’s 29-point and 10-rebound performance couldn't compensate for the absence of two all-stars. With John Wall out until mid-March, Bradley Beal has bathed in attention from opposing teams. Still, Washington has willed themselves to a 9-3 record since.
That was a little different on Wednesday night.
Golden State had the Wizards’ lonely all-star in a playpen, holding Beal to just eight points on 3/15 shooting. He didn’t take one foul shot and it took almost 31 game minutes for his shot to reunite with nylon.
That was by design. Beal was shadowed much of the night by Klay Thompson, whose reputation as a three-point sniper sometimes muffles his defensive talent.
“We assign Klay with the most difficult job night after night,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. “He’s just a machine.”
Thompson took just 11 shots in just under 37 minutes. He hadn’t taken fewer shots in 13 games and hadn’t played more minutes in 17. His sole priority was stopping Beal while Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry addressed the orange ring.
Durant finished with 32 points in his homecoming, including a 16-pomt first quarter. Curry had 25 in the game as the two combined to shoot 47% from behind the arc.
On a night like this, where a close game is more elusive than a house fly, you’re going to need scrappy play to keep the momentum local. What’s both one of the scrappiest and momentum-shifting plays you can make? An offensive rebound.
Washington out-rebounded the champs 50-36 and finished Plus fifteen on the offensive glass. Plus fifteen. That spells a W against most teams.
Early in the second quarter, after a Scott Brooks timeout kept Golden State’s momentum from carrying their lead above 16, Washington’s second unit did what it could to claw back. First a Mahinmi bucket. Then David West coughed it up for an easy fast-break layup. As if his contact with the ball was analogous to the sight of Medusa, Golden State’s next possession saw West get his shot blocked – by a guard. After a couple Oubre free-throws and another successful defensive possession, the Wiz unleashed their offensive rebounding machine:
Six-foot-one point guard Tim Frazier.
Washington had 19 more field goal attempts than Golden State, and Coach Kerr attributed that to the offensive glass. "We just couldn't box anybody out," he said after the game.
The very next possession, Frazier fought the lengthy Warriors for not one but two big offensive boards. After the first led to a bricked three, he found a cutting Mike Scott for a fate-altering dunk. Or so it seemed. The arena jumped to its feet and that energy reverberated throughout the home team. From that point until halftime, the white jerseys owned the game, trimming a 16-point lead to two like a lawn for spring cleaning.
Going into the locker room, the resounding feeling was that baby comeback still wasn’t enough. The Warriors are the NBA’s best third-quarter team. They score the most in the third. Their third quarter scoring margin is more than twice the margin of second place. Opposing teams know you either have to build a super-lead at the half or to get your act right when you come out that tunnel. Tonight, after a measly two-point deficit, the Wizards’ focus was getting their act right.
It was a good try.
After Beal’s first bucket sparked an 8-0 run that cut the lead to seven, Steve Kerr called time to remind his team which quarter they were in. The Wizards finished the third with five straight turnovers, vandalizing all anticipation of a comeback. The lead was back to 15 entering the fourth.
Even with all those big leads,
“We were only down six with three minutes to go,” said Beal, in a breath of unexpected optimism. “And I only had eight points.” Beyond that, it was still a six-point game at three separate times during the last minute.
For many home games this season, the Capitol One Arena has housed "M-V-P" chants for opposing players and the overwhelming fan-bases. Although this one felt like a true home game, the weight of a double-digit fourth-quarter lead for the reigning world champions deserved more respect.
The first place Toronto Raptors come to Gallery Place this Friday night.