The Washington Wizards fell to the Denver Nuggets on Friday night at Capital One Arena. After a slow start, the team came out of halftime and mounted a comeback just after Phil Chenier’s No. 45 was retired and unveiled in the rafters. It just was not enough as the Nuggets escaped D.C. with a 108-100 win to keep their playoff hopes alive. You can check out the game recap here
. Read on to hear what Scott Brooks, Otto Porter Jr., Ramon Sessions, and Markieff Morris had to say following the loss.
One word to describe the slow start: “lackadaisical”.
The Wizards struggled in the beginning of the game. Whether you blame the headband or not, Markieff Morris started the game 0-for-5 from the field. The Wizards as a team turned the ball over five times in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Wizards dug themselves a hole, trailing 55-43 before the Phil Chenier ceremony. This was in large part to their struggles containing Jamal Murray, who dropped 20 points in the first half. The 43 points that the Wizards scored were the fewest points the Nuggets allowed in a first half since January 27.
“It takes all five guys to get a bucket.”
Just a short time ago, “everybody eats” was the motto of this team. That was not the case during Friday night’s contest especially in the early going. The Wizards turned the ball over five times in just the first quarter alone. In all, the team turned the ball over 17 times.
Their best quarter came in the third frame where they scored 33 points and shot 63.2 percent from the field including 58.3 percent from three, but Washington struggled in the other three quarters. Markieff Morris and Bradley Beal chipped in with 11 and 9 points, respectively, in the third.
“I feel like we were getting our shots within the offense, but for right now it’s defense.”
The Wizards defense had a frustrating night on the defensive end. Aside from the difficulty containing Jamal Murray in the first half, the team also had a hard time containing Baltimore native Will Barton in the second half as he dropped 17 points after intermission.
Three of the five Nuggets starters finished with over 20 points: Nikola Jokic (25), Murray (25) and Barton (23). What killed the Wizards the most on Friday night was the Nuggets shooting from the perimeter as the home team surrendered 17 three-pointers, which tied a season-worst.
“Playing with that chip, you know, that swag that this team is known to have.”
Many people predicted the Wizards to be, at best, third in the Eastern Conference. John Wall and Bradley Beal both have shown confidence that the Wizards can compete with the best of them. With 10 games to go, the Wizards need to play with urgency especially with seeding at stake.
Four of those games will be against teams in the top eight in either the Eastern or Western Conference, but that does not mean the Wizards can just waltz through the other six games. Struggles against teams with sub-.500 records have been a popular storyline this season so those contests against the Knicks, Pistons, Hornets, Bulls, Hawks and Magic should not be taken lightly.
“I think we just need to get on the court with a different mentality like maybe that we not in the playoffs, maybe we still in the hunt.”
If the season ended right now, the Wizards would be a six seed and would draw LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round. The King has been to the Finals in each of the last seven seasons and no team in the East has been able to go through him.
Perhaps Morris is right. Maybe they do need to play as if they are not in the playoffs. Instead of coming into games thinking that they are just three games behind the third seed. Why not pretend like they are three games behind the eighth and final playoff spot?
If there are any positives from the recent struggles it’s that the whole “this team is better without John Wall” talk can be put to bed. They need their five-time All-Star point guard back and now that he practiced with the team on Saturday, his return to game action should come soon.