Poor third quarter, turnover margin doom Wizards absent Beal, Bertans vs. Suns

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Andrew Gillis
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Poor third, turnover margin doom Wizards absent Beal, Bertans originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The first two quarters for the Wizards, against one of the league’s best teams in Phoenix, certainly came as a positive surprise. 

They trailed by just two points at halftime absent Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans after they had to play a game against the Warriors 24 hours prior. Daniel Gafford returned to the lineup and showed no signs of a still-injured ankle.

Then the third quarter happened, and in a few minute stretch, the Wizards lost their positive momentum. 

Washington was outscored by 20 points in the third quarter as the Suns turned a close game into a rout, which ended in a 134-106 Wizards loss in Phoenix. 

“They started raining 3’s on us, attacking us, getting us out in transition,” coach Scott Brooks said. “We couldn’t make a shot and they had numbers throughout that third quarter. Their backcourt, they controlled the game. Chris (Paul) and Devin (Booker), they manipulate the pick and rolls which puts us in some tough positions. That first nine minutes of that third quarter, we could not score enough buckets to keep up with their 3’s.”

The Wizards committed 16 turnovers in all Saturday night, as the Suns got out in transition and were able to turn odd-man breaks into quick and easy buckets. In the third frame, the Suns made five of their 17 3-pointers. 

Washington committed just three turnovers in that quarter, but each time Phoenix was able to capitalize and turn it into points on the other end. 

“I mean, we’ve got to come out ready to not get any calls,” Raul Neto said. “We’ve just got to be strong with the ball, play tough. I think sometimes we are asking too much for fouls, me sometimes more than anybody else. I think when you’re in the spot that we are, we’ve got to earn the respect from the referees. We’ve just got to play hard, play through contact.”

The Suns tallied 24 points off the Wizards’ 16 turnovers, while the Wizards had just four points off three Suns turnovers.

“We weren’t physical on the defensive end, offensively they got their hands on the basketball, got out in transition and hit some 3’s,” Russell Westbrook said.

The Suns, who are one of the best teams in the league at protecting the basketball (12.6 turnovers per game, which ranks tied for sixth in the league), certainly used that to their advantage. 

Meaning that absent Beal and Bertans, against a team that stacked the paint and didn’t turn the ball over, the Wizards were up against a tough task all night.

“They’re a physical team, they don’t allow layups,” Brooks said. “They make you earn it at the free throw line. It’s old school basketball. That’s a good team, that’s a team that’s going to give a lot of teams a lot of problems. They’re very handsy and you’ve got to be strong with the ball.”