The Washington Wizards led by 22 points early in the second quarter Wednesday against a Phoenix Suns squad with the league’s fifth-highest turnover rate.
But the Wizards allowed their opponent to stick around, and Suns forward TJ Warren dropped in 28 of his career-high 40 points in the second half as Phoenix handed Washington its first home loss of the season, 122-116.
The normally turnover-prone Suns committed just 10 on Wednesday. Phoenix (4-4) was held to 15 first-quarter points but exploded for 107 the rest of the way.
The Wizards, playing without starter Otto Porter Jr. (illness), wasted a season-best effort by shooting guard Bradley Beal, who also scored 40 points.
“We allowed guys go to go to where they wanted to go, score any type buckets,” Beal said. “Fouled way too much. We were undisciplined. We were too cool. We thought it was going to be a cakewalk. They bust our [butt], plain and simple.”
Asked if Porter’s absence hurt the team, Beal immediately said, “No. No. No. No. We’ve got enough guys in here to step up and make plays.”
Washington (4-3) ranks fifth in the league with nearly 113 points per game, but has its struggles at the other end, ranking near the bottom in terms of allowing 48 points in the paint per contest.
Head coach Scott Brooks said the season’s still early enough to correct defensive mistakes, but it’s still a concern.
“I’m going to have to figure out how we can get our guys to be more consistent with the level of urgency,” he said. “We didn’t have that tonight.”
The Wizards defense will be tested Friday when LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers (3-5) visit D.C.
Washington forward Markieff Morris (sports hernia) was cleared to return to action Wednesday, but was serving a one-game suspension for leaving the bench Friday after a scuffle between Beal and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green.