Wizards’ road problems continue in loss to Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets

Wizards’ road problems continue at loss to Nets originally appeared on NBC SportsWashington

The Washington Wizards lost to the Brooklyn Nets 113-107 on Wednesday night. Here are five takeaways from what went down…

Road woes continue

The Wizards have been a much different team at home than they have been on the road this season, but there is now one opponent that has beaten them in both settings. The Brooklyn Nets handed the Wizards their worst home loss in franchise history on Nov. 4 and on Wednesday held on for a much closer victory at the Barclays Center.

Washington lost by six points, which makes the fact they shot just 23-for-34 (67.6%) from the free-throw line especially painful. That left the margin for error just too thin, as Kyrie Irving (27 points) and then Kevin Durant (39 points) went to work in the fourth quarter to put them away. The Nets also shot 24-for-26 on free throws, many of them coming down the stretch.

The Wizards, now 11-11 on the season overall, have now lost four straight games on the road, while at home they have won six of seven.

No 3s on the road

The Wizards came into this game as the worst 3-point shooting team in the NBA on the road, averaging just 8.4 made threes per game compared to 13.1 at home. Unfortunately for them, that trend continued in this one as they shot just 6-for-24 from long range, good for 25%.

Why the Wizards are shooting so much better at home than on the road is unclear. Maybe it has something to do with them being more comfortable shooting on their own rims, but it’s a difficult problem to overcome, especially when they are playing a team with shooters as Brooklyn has. The Nets shot 11-for-26 (42.3%) from three, so they had a considerable advantage.

Top-heavy

While Bradley Beal (25 points), Kristaps Porzingis (27 points) and Kyle Kuzma (25 points) all put up 20-plus points apiece, the Wizards didn’t get much in the scoring department from the rest of the roster. Those three combined for 77 points, while everyone else collectively scored 30 and no one reached double-figures. Corey Kispert was next up with eight points, shooting 3-for-5 in 22 minutes.

The Wizards’ starting lineup is now whole with Beal, Kuzma and Monte Morris recently having returned from injuries. Their bench is missing Delon Wright, who has been out for a while with a hamstring injury, and Rui Hachimura, who has now missed six games due to a bone bruise in his right ankle. Those absences could help explain the bench issues at least some, but it’s not a good combination with some remaining on the underperforming roster.

Defending Durant

Durant had 28 points in the Nets’ blowout win over the Wizards earlier this month in DC, so surely the Wizards were intent on not letting that happen again. Despite their best hopes, he was even better in this one, dropping 16 in the first quarter alone. Durant shot 13-for-20 from the field and 11-for-11 from the free throw line in what would be a masterpiece for most players but is just another Wednesday for him.

Kuzma spent extended time defending him and had some good moments, like in the second quarter when he stripped Durant for a breakaway slam. But Kuzma and his teammates mostly had no hope of stopping Durant, who is certifiably one of the greatest scorers to ever pick up a ball. Durant made a series of shots that were closely contested, and defended well enough that it’s hard to imagine what else the Wizards could have done.

Porzingis good again

While it came in a loss, Porzingis was able to keep it rolling on the offensive end after his career-high 41 points against the T’Wolves on Monday. In addition to his 27 points, he had a career-high 19 rebounds in this one plus two blocks, shooting 8-for-14 from the field and 2-for-3 from three. The one blemish was his 9-for-14 shooting from the line.

Porzingis found a rhythm in this game despite seeing a lot of help defense. The Nets were overloading on him in a clear response to what he did against Minnesota. It was interesting to see in that sense, as it showed Porzingis can still get his hands on him even when the defense is going out of their way to take him out of the game.

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