Sports

Washington Falling Apart After All-Star Break

Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal showed off his skills during the 2021 NBA All-Star Game leading Team Durant in scoring with 26 points despite falling to Team LeBron by 20 points on March 7.

Though it was an incredible performance, Beal and the Wizards couldn’t seem to rekindle the success they had since Feb. 14, where Washington went 8-3 before the season’s midpoint but have struggled as of late, losing three straight games since the All-Star break.

Washington hit the road on March 10 and couldn’t find their footing against the Grizzlies yet again, losing by 15 points.

Memphis dominated Washington collectively with their entire starting five lineup scoring in double-figures. Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas led the way with 29 points and an astounding mark of 20 rebounds, while guard Ja Morant scored 21 points and dished out 10 assists.

Beal led Washington in scoring (21 points) but only converted 6-of-22 shots from the floor, and guard Russell Westbrook picked up the slack, scoring 20 points and had 10 assists.

“I thought we too stagnant on offense,” Beal said. “It’s not just one thing that we can pinpoint; we’ve been pretty inconsistent on both ends.”

Two days later, Washington had an opportunity to bounce back against the visiting Philadelphia 76ers but instead lost by 26 points (127-101) in yet another blowout to start the second half of the season on a sour note.

Philadelphia cruised from start to finish without allowing Washington to obtain a lead and broke out to a 32-point lead in the fourth quarter with little resistance from the Wizards all game.

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid accounted for the lion’s share of points (23) and dished out three assists, pulled down seven rebounds in only a little more than 20 minutes of play before suffering a knee injury. Beal was held to only 19 points while Westbrook finished with 25 points and eight assists.

Try as they might, the Wizards couldn’t stay out of the loss column against the Milwaukee Bucks on March 13, losing 125-119 in a hotly contested affair.

Washington simply could not contain Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, who scored a triple-double accounting for 33 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.

Beal did not participate in this one (rest), but Westbrook and forward Rui Hachimura kept Washington in a game with 18 lead changes. Westbrook notched yet another triple-double (42 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds), and Hachimura poured in 29 points and had 11 rebounds.

“Rui, he came out with an edge,” said Washington Wizards head coach Scott Brooks about Hachimura’s aggressiveness on the court. “If I coach another 20 years, which I hope I don’t, I’m not going to find a nicer person to coach. We’re lucky to have him be a part of our organization, but with that being said, he has to have that edge on the court. We don’t want him just to take five or six shots… it’s a mindset.”

However, those performances were not enough, as Milwaukee went on a 6-0 run to seal the game after being tied at 119 inside the one-minute mark.

Washington will have to take care of business against the Bucks, Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz next before embarking on a three-game road trip in New York.

The Wizards will gear up to take on the Brooklyn Nets, followed by two games against the New York Knicks before welcoming the Detroit Pistons at home on March 27.

“We gotta get other guys to lock in; we need everybody,” Brooks said. “We got a tough stretch of games here. We need all 15 guys mentally, physically [and] emotionally.”

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