Defense finally arrives in Washington Wizards win over Charlotte Hornets

Washington Wizards Davis Bertans Jordan McRae Bradley Beal (Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Davis Bertans Jordan McRae Bradley Beal (Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images) /

The Washington Wizards do not play a lot of defense, but they played it at the right time against the Charlotte Hornets.

After a 125-118 win over the Charlotte Hornets, the Washington Wizards are the NBA’s second-highest scoring offense and have the second-best offensive rating in the league, per They have scored 120 points or more in their last five games. But the Wizards’ defense has allowed at least 113 points in their previous seven games. That’s how you get a top-tier offense with a losing record.

Despite having the second-worst defensive rating in the NBA, it was the Wizards defense that helped them secure a win over the Hornets and spark their first winning streak of the season.

Heading into the fourth quarter, the defense hadn’t shown up for either side. Through three quarters, the Hornets had scored a whopping 96 points. Coming into the matchup versus Washington, they were averaging just 104 points per game (and would easily surpass that). The Wizards’ high-powered offense wasn’t far behind with 90 points of their own.

The fourth quarter didn’t get off to an ideal start for the Wizards. The Hornets went on a small run, and with just over nine minutes left to play, a Miles Bridges three-pointer put the Hornets up by 13. That’s when the defense showed up for the Wizards. Better late than never, right?

The Wizards held the Hornets to 11 points over the final nine minutes, outscoring Charlotte by 20 points during that stretch. For the entire fourth quarter, the Wizards limited the Hornets to just 22 points. Before those final 12 minutes, the Wizards allowed 22 or fewer points in only five of their 51 quarters this season.

With an offense that can pile up the points with ease, a few defensive stops can turn any game around in an instant, no matter what the deficit is. Those stops have been hard to come by so far this season, but they may have finally found a lineup that can get them.

A new group sparked the late-game comeback for the Wizards. Once down 13, Scott Brooks took Moritz Wagner and C.J. Miles out of the game for Thomas Bryant and Jordan McRae. That’d be the finals Wizards substitution of the game.

Ish Smith, Bradley Beal, Jordan McRae, Davis Bertans, and Thomas Bryant absolutely took over the final nine minutes. Before their fourth-quarter comeback, that group had played just five minutes together.

Next. Davis Bertans got his revenge. dark

It’s apparent that Brooks is still figuring out the best lineup for the end of games. There’s seemingly a new group out there every fourth quarter. With McRae acting as a long agitator at the three (McRae has a 7’0 wingspan and had two crucial steals in the game’s final minutes), Bertans raining from the arc, and Beal doing Beal stuff, they have found something special with this group.

Among Wizards lineups that have played at least 10 minutes together this season, last night’s closers have the highest net rating, per