Wizards' winning streak ends at five in loss to Clippers' high-powered offense

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Mike DePrisco
·5 min read
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Wizards' streak ends at five to Clippers' high-powered offense originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Wizards found themselves in a familiar spot.

They were down big to a great team but scratched and clawed their way to cut the deficit to five. The comeback we've grown accustomed to with this team over the last two years was fully underway, but in this one, the Clippers had the answer. 

Now, the Wizards turn to Thursday night in a rematch with Nikola Jokic, the man they beat just a week ago. Here are a few thoughts from the loss in Staples Center.

The streak ends at five

Well, it was fun while it lasted. With the loss to the Clippers, the Wizards' best winning streak in three years ends at five games. Between the wins over good teams like the Celtics, Rockets, Nuggets, Trail Blazers and Lakers and the improvements on the defensive end, this was probably the best stretch of Wizards basketball fans have seen in a long time. 

Was it just a fluke or is it a sign of what's to come for this team? The next few games leading up to the All-Star break should give us a good idea. 

The Clippers' offense is different

One night after playing a Lakers team without two of its top-three scorers, the Wizards ran into a Clippers team with a much more explosive offensive attack. L.A. entered the night No. 2 in the league in offensive efficiency and have been paced by an MVP-caliber season from Kawhi Leonard and lights out shooting from Paul George. 

The Wizards, like most teams this season, had a hard time containing the Clippers on that end of the floor. George was masterful and didn't seem to miss a shot all night. Kawhi Leonard scored a quiet 32 points and the Clippers finished the game shooting 57% from the floor. When you run into a buzzsaw like that, you just have to either outscore them or just hope the jumpers stop falling at some point. 

The Wizards don't go away

Similar to last season, the Wizards just never seem to fully go away in a game. Down by as many as 24 in the game and with the Clippers shooting an ungodly percentage from the floor, it would've been easy for the Wizards to pack it in on the second night of a back-to-back and get ready for their rematch with the Nuggets. 

But they didn't, and thanks to some hot 3-point shooting and a shaky Clippers defense, they fought back kept fighting back to stay within striking distance. The Clippers just seemed to always have an answer for every little run Washington went on. 

Tonight it wasn't enough to come all the way back and get a win, but fighting for a full 48 minutes no matter the score is a mark of a good team. It's not exactly a sustainable form of winning, but it's certainly a good way to build a winning culture. 

Busting out of the 3-point drought

The Wizards may have been winning a bunch lately, but it hasn't been due to their accuracy from beyond the arc. Over the course of their winning streak, they've shot over 30% from three twice, with one of them being a game in which Davis Bertans went berserk and made 9-of-11 from outside. 

The Wizards have had to rely on scoring in the paint and getting to the free-throw line during the drought, but in this game, the triples were falling left and right. The Wizards made 55% of their 3-pointers and played a large part in their ability to come back from a 24-point deficit against a championship contender. 

If the Wizards can space the floor effectively for Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook, it makes life so much easier for everyone else involved. Westbrook is a master at the drive and kick and Beal is an absolute beast against one-on-one defense. If the threes are going to start falling for the Wizards, they're going to become an incredibly difficult team to guard. 

Deni's rookie moment

Deni Avdija has done plenty to make the Wizards feel good about their first-round pick this season, but on Tuesday he went through the full rookie experience. One day, you're getting stops on LeBron James down the stretch in a close game and then the next night, you're committing three fouls in four minutes. 

Thankfully, Garrison Mathews and Isaac Bonga provided a nice boost at the small forward spot in the game, so Avdija's off night didn't seem to cost his team all that much. So in terms of lessons learned, this one didn't come at much of a cost. 

This kind of thing happens to every rookie in some form or fashion. The NBA is a different beast than any other league in the world and it takes at least a year or two to get fully acclimated to the demands of a season. All a player can do is learn from it and move on to the next game because that next game usually comes up a day or two later. 

Tune in to NBC Sports Washington at 8 p.m. on Thursday for full coverage of the Wizards' next game against the Denver Nuggets