Washington takes on Memphis on Saturday night from the FedEx Forum. Star rookie guard Ja Morant (back) missed the game against Milwaukee but is expected to return on Saturday. The Wizards have their own injury issues with center Thomas Bryant (foot) out until late December.
Wiz stumbleWashington wasn't expected to go to the playoffs this season, though in the Eastern Conference, you can probably make it with 35 wins. The Wiz have lost six of their last seven and have played the Clippers twice, Miami, Philadelphia and the Lakers to name a few elite teams. But on Tuesday, they fell to a team that wouldn't be considered in that category in Charlotte.
The Wizards lost at Charlotte, 114-107 despite getting a career-high 32 points from the "Latvian Laser" Davis Bertans, who made 8-of-12 from three-point range.
I was just trying to do my job,” Bertans said on NBA.com. “They were in there guarding me closer and I was just trying to come off screens and…just kind of have the defense gravitate toward me and somebody else can get open. I think we got a lot of good looks at the end.”
Bertans didn't get much help from the starters, especially Bradley Beal, who scored 16 points and dished out nine assists. But he was a -36 and went 0-for-7 from beyond the arc. The Wiz shot just 42% from the field and 31% (11-of-35) from downtown. Bertans made 8 of their 11 three-pointers.
The good news is that rookie Rui Hachimura (teammate of Brandon Clarke at Gonzaga) is having a strong start. He's averaging 14.4 points and 6.0 rebounds on 48.1% shooting. His only issue on offense is the long ball, where he's making just 20%. Beal is averaging 27.4 points and 7.0 assists, but is shooting just 33% from beyond the arc. Bertans, who will be a free agent after the season, is averaging 15.7 points and shooting 46.5% from beyond the arc.
Offense is not the issue for Washington. It's on the defensive side that's been the issue. They rank last in the league in points allowed per game (122.1), last in field goal percentage defense (49.4%) and 28th in three-point defense (38.4%).
Grizzlies battle Bucks without MorantMemphis went into their game against Milwaukee, one of the best teams in the league, without Morant and Clarke on Friday night. They hung tough, leading 95-90 going into the fourth quarter. But the Bucks outscored the Grizzlies, 37-19 in the final quarter to win their 17th straight game and improve to 23-3 to make the Lakers for the top record in the league.
One player who stepped up was Jaren Jackson Jr. who scored a career-high 43 points, including 26 in the third quarter. He couldn't make up for the fact that Memphis shot 39% from the field and was outrebounded 55-45.
The good news is that Clarke will come back from his oblique injury. He's a defensive stud, who is averaging 12 points and 5.9 rebounds including 50% from beyond the arc. Moran, if he can stay healthy, should win the Rookie of the Year. He's averaging 18.7 points per game and 6.4 assists on 46.3% shooting (42.2% 3pt). Jackson (6-11, 242) is averaging 16.5 points but just 4.8 rebounds.
Rebounding has been an issue for Memphis (-0.7) along with defense. They are allowing 116 points per game (26th) on 45.9% shooting (37.2% 3pt). On offense, they are averaging 109 points per game on 45.6% shooting (34.7% 3pt).
Trends from Covers.com Washington is:
- 2-5 ATS last 7 overall.
- 12-27-1 ATS last 40 road games vs. a team with a losing home record.
- 4-0 ATS last 4 at home vs. Wizards.