The Washington Wizards showed off their new "District" jerseys last night against the visiting Brooklyn Nets. That and Dwight Howard's (pictured above) monstrous double-double were the only bright spots of the evening. Howard fouled out, but he finished 25 points and 17 rebounds before doing so. Brooklyn got great nights out of D'Angelo Russell (23 points) and Spencer Dinwiddie (25 points), but most importantly was they way they chased the Wizards off the three point line. Forcing Washington to take 70 of their 87 shots inside of the line, that was big part of the game as both teams drew even on the glass at 47 a piece. It simply came down to Brooklyn's guards outplaying Washington's, specifically on the defensive end. Spencer and D'Angelo missed a combined 13 shots to go 16-of-29 from the floor. John Wall(16 points) and Bradley Beal (20 points) shot 14-of 38 from the floor.
Howard off to a quick start, scoring six of Washington's first 12 points. The problem was that Russell was able to carry his group during the first quarter. He made a living off the screen/roll, getting the defender on his back and knocking down uncontested jumpers.
The Wizards held a four point lead to start the second quarter, their all second unit lineup traded baskets with the Nets for the first few minutes. Brooklyn refused to go away though, Spencer Dinwiddie scored 10 points in the quarter to help his team take a two point lead into the half.
The third period is where Brooklyn made their move, several players stated after the game that they didn't change anything defensively. They simply stuck to their principles and by doing so started the quarter off strong. The Nets guards were able to routinely get by their Wizard counterparts for most of the night. Kelly Oubre did give Washington a lift, scoring eight of his 18 points in the quarter. The problem was they couldn't contain any combination of Brooklyn's guards in a pick & roll situation. If they weren't making shots they were drawing fouls, which is primarily the reason Howard stayed in foul trouble this game.
The Wizards found themselves down at 15 during one point of the period and they tried to get back into it. The inability to generate consistent stops wouldn't let them do anything other than trade baskets. Late in the quarter they cut it to 10, only to see Dinwiddie hit a mid-range jumper to push it back to 12 with 6.5 seconds left.
Washington tried to go small in the fourth to jump start their offense, but with Howard in foul trouble that left Green on Allen. The Nets kept finding Allen on runs to the rim with bounce passes or lobs, he either finished or drew fouls. From there both teams continued to trade baskets, with the Wizards winning the quarter by one. Trading baskets doesn't help when trailing by double digits, the Wizards don't have much time to shore up their defense with Portland visiting on Sunday. They have a pair of guards that are even more dangerous than the Brooklyn group, so that has to be an area of emphasis.
Perimeter Defense. Outside of Kelly Oubre, there wasn't much from the Wizards. Brooklyn's ball handlers got to wherever they wanted, whenever they wanted. It wasn't fair to put that type of pressure on your bigs, most of Dwight's fouls came from porous perimeter defense. The Nets on the other hand harassed any and every three point shooter all night, Washington shot just 17 threes, knocking down just 17.6% from that distance.
No Show. Otto Porter and Markieff Morris are talented players, that is without a doubt. There is no reason as to why they got outplayed by the forward combination of Joe Harris and Jared Dudley. Washington needs more from both of them on a consistent basis, the Wizards lost by 11. If they had average nights, that may have changed the tide in this one.
Left this game very impressed by the two Brooklyn guards. They were under control all game and really helped keep their team level for most of the night. The Nets are trying to figure out life without Caris LeVert and those two did a great job leading their teammates against Washington.Russell was very poised in running the screen/roll, rarely ever allowing the Washington guard involved to get back in front of him. He kept the defender on his hip or back and knock down shots. Dinwiddie knocked down a pair of triples to start things off before doing like Russell and taking advantage of opportunities in the screen/roll.