Wizards fall to Warriors on MLK Day originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
WASHINGTON — The Washington Wizards lost to the Golden State Warriors 127-118 on Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Capital One Arena. Here are five takeaways from what went down…
Both teams had lost four of their last five games and each was missing star guards. But the Golden State Warriors had Stephen Curry and he proved to be the difference in Monday’s matinee on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Curry delivered several timely blows down the stretch of the fourth quarter, as he and backcourt running mate Jordan Poole combined to light the Wizards up from long range. They teamed up for 13 3-pointers, with Curry scoring 41 points and Poole 32. Klay Thompson didn’t play, but the Warriors had enough firepower to pull away at the end.
Golden State shot 18-for-44 from 3-point range, good enough for 40.9%. Washington shot a very good 14-for-35 (40%), yet was outdone. That’s the Warriors for you.
With the loss, the Wizards have now dropped five of their last six games. They are 18-26 on the year with six of their next seven games on the road.
The Warriors have a relatively small team, especially at the moment with James Wiseman injured, but are also of course known for employing small-ball with Draymond Green down low. With a lot of size in their frontcourt, the Wizards naturally tried to turn that into an advantage for themselves, namely by feeding Kristaps Porzingis early and often. It worked, as Porzingis caught fire right off the bat with 15 points in the first quarter and 25 by halftime.
That was the second-most Porzingis has scored in a single half since joining the Wizards, second only to the career-high 29 he dropped on the Timberwolves earlier this season at home. Just like that Minnesota game, he slowed down in the second half as the Wizards started getting others involved. Porzingis finished with 32 points in 37 minutes, shooting 9-for-15 from the field and 3-for-7 from long range.
Rui Hachimura was going through a bit of a slump before this game, with five straight outings below his usual standards on the offensive end. He was much better on Monday, dropping 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting, including 2-for-3 from three. His contributions were pivotal as the Wizards were searching early in the game for someone to give them a lift behind Porzingis.
Hachimura made a few shots he’s been missing as of late, but he was also rewarded for running the floor in transition and moving without the ball on the perimeter. He seemed to regularly be in the right place at the right time when his teammates dribbled into the lane and looked outside for a shooter. The Wizards are a better team when Hachimura gives them offense off the bench. Even with this loss, they are 6-3 when he scores at least 15 points.
By now it has been fairly well-established that Delon Wright is an important player for the Wizards this season. While he has done a nice job running their offense, most of his value has been rooted in his defense in part because he hasn’t shot particularly well so far this year. He came into this game shooting career-lows both from the field (39.1%) and from three (21.9%).
Wright said after Sunday’s practice he’s still searching for an offensive rhythm, now 11 games back from his hamstring rehab. He may have taken a notable step forward in this game, as Wright had nine points on 3-for-5 shooting in 28 minutes, along with seven assists. Wright has never been a big-time scorer, but he averaged 10.2 points per game two seasons ago and can usually score fairly efficiently in low volume.
The Wizards got one of their starting guards back for this one, as Monte Morris returned following a one-game absence due to a hamstring injury. Bradley Beal, who is also dealing with a hamstring issue, remained out for the fifth consecutive game. He has been cleared to practice, but not yet to play in games. Given the Wizards were facing Curry and Poole, two shifty guards who run their defenders all over the court, it made sense to play it safe with Beal, given the nature of his injury.
Morris put up really good numbers with 17 points and 10 assists for the game. He was also, of course, part of a Wizards’ defense that saw Curry and Poole score a combined 73 points. The Wizards went by a committee to guard Curry, sometimes deploying Corey Kispert or Deni Avdija, even when Morris was on the floor. Maybe that was a matter of giving Morris’ hamstring a slight break, or simply an all-hands-on-deck approach to limiting one of the greatest scorers in NBA history.