Kyle Kuzma finds his groove in Wizards' Friday night battle

Washington Wizards v Los Angeles Clippers
Washington Wizards v Los Angeles Clippers / Kevork Djansezian/GettyImages

Back in Los Angeles for game two of the three-game road series, the Washington Wizards took on the Los Angeles Clippers, seeking revenge after their January 31st bout. Heading into the game, both teams were lacking a key piece. Ivica Zubac missed Friday for the Clippers and the Wizards' rising star Bilal Coulibaly was out for his fourth straight game.

Kuzma starts off hot, keeps Wizards within striking distance early

After the previous day's loss against the Lakers, Kyle Kuzma started off playing like he had something to prove, draining 3 of 4 three-pointers he attempted in the first and finishing the quarter with 11 points. Couple Kuzma's red-hot start with Deni Avdija scoring seven of his own, and the Wizards were hanging in with the talent-loaded Clippers roster in the first.

On the other hand, the Wizards' Jordan Poole, who had a season-best 34 points in the loss against the Lakers, started the game ice cold, 2-of-6 in the first quarter, landing zero of his two three-point attempts, a theme that would follow into his performance the rest of the night.

Wizards trail heading into the half

With a blazing-hot 21-point second quarter from Clippers guard James Harden, the Wizards trailed into the second half 79-64. It had become apparent that the Wizards were outmatched, committing 10 fouls in the first half alone. The Wizards' bench had fallen once again, totaling just 16 first-half points, six less than Harden's second-quarter total. Kuzma headed into the locker room with a team-leading 26 points. The half was the second-best scoring half of his career, converting the second-most three-pointers in the first half of his career as well.

New day, same old Wizards

In what has become the talking point of every post-game presser, the Wizards fell apart in the third quarter, ending their least productive quarter of the game with only 21 points. Converting at a game-low of 36% in the quarter, the Clippers took advantage and connected on 12 of their 24 attempts.

To add to an already not-great quarter, Poole collected a technical foul, as well as Richaun Holmes, with Holmes being ejected from the game. This left the Wizards' already undersized offense down their backup center option and allowed for a productive fourth quarter from the Clippers' frontcourt.

Wizards fall in Los Angeles back-to-back

With 12 minutes left in the game, the Wizards trailed 110-85. Trying for an all-time great comeback, the Wizards left the stars out on the floor, seeking production. The decision resulted in six points each from Marvin Bagley III and Wizards guard Jordan Poole. Although this was not enough to drag them back into contention, we did get to see meaningful playtime from Wizards backup guard Jared Butler.

Jared Butler, a two-way contract player, has been making rounds on Wizards fan forums as fans believe he should be sticking on the NBA roster and receiving more meaningful minutes. Signed through the year, fans look to see Butler ink a deal soon with the Washington Wizards, much like Wizards' recent addition Eugene Omoruyi. Jared Butler also hosts many things you won't see on the box score, particularly his strong defense. Butler's capability on that front is a skill the Wizards need desperately, as other guards on the roster lack significantly in that skill set.

Although the game ended in the Wizards' 51st loss, we got to see minutes from prospects on the squad that could develop into a nice bench unit, which will be needed to be able to see the Wizards in the playoffs anytime soon. Headed to Utah on Monday to play the Jazz, the Wizards face a team coming off two losses, hoping to capture their first win in over a month.

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