Washington Wizards: Loss to Hornets highlights major Wizards’ weaknesses

Washington Wizards Bradley Beal (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Bradley Beal (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images) /

In their first game since the All-Star break, the Washington Wizards fell on the road to division foe Charlotte Hornets, despite 46 points from Bradley Beal.

If the Washington Wizards were hoping to remedy some of their weaknesses over the All-Star break, they didn’t show it in their first game back. In a 123-110 loss to the Charlotte Hornets, the squad displayed much of what has ailed them through the first two-thirds of the season.

What made this loss sting (no Hornets pun intended) in particular was it came at the expense of a herculean effort from Bradley Beal. Returning to the Spectrum Center after last weekend’s All-Star Game, Beal did everything he could with 46 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists, but it still wasn’t enough.

Relying so much on Beal with little from the supporting cast has plagued the Wizards in many of their tough losses, and Friday night was no different. Beal shot 64 percent from the field; the rest of the team shot 36 percent. Beal played a total of 42 minutes, including the entire second half (except for the final minute of garbage time). In the only meaningful time he sat out, which was at the start of the second quarter, the team’s 11-point lead slipped away.

The Wizards have had strong performances by various players throughout the season–including most recently by new acquisitions like Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker–but no one has proven to be a reliable second scorer to complement Beal.

Beyond that, the Wizards also continued to be a sieve defensively on Friday night. For the sixth time in their last seven games, the team gave up at least 120 points. Defense hasn’t been the Wizards’ strong suit this season, but they can’t expect to win consistently at that rate.

Lastly, a telltale sign of a Wizards loss is not winning the battle on the boards. On Friday, the Hornets outrebounded the Wizards 53 to 43. The Wizards experimented with playing Portis and Thomas Bryant together to try to get more size on the floor, but it could only last so long before the matchups were exploited defensively.

Friday’s loss wasn’t necessarily a must-win to keep the Wizards’ playoff hopes alive, but it was as close as one could be. The Wizards, who were just three games out of the No. 8 seed going into Friday’s game, had a chance to make up ground on a division foe, where a win can be a vital in a potential tiebreaker scenario. Coupled with the Detroit Pistons winning on Friday night, the Wizards leave Charlotte find themselves four games from a playoff berth.

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The Wizards will get a chance to rebound quickly from this loss as they host the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night.