- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The three points here all start the same, so let’s get to it following the Wizards’ 122-116 loss to the Phoenix Suns at home Wednesday night.

Ugly. Washington led by 22 points. It held the Suns to 15 points in the first quarter. After that, Washington’s defense was abysmal. Phoenix scores 72 points over the next two quarters combined. Wizards coach Scott Brooks said his team “relaxed” and “lacked defensive urgency.” Brooks, ever polite in front of the media, was chopping his words as he delivered them, clearly annoyed. His team forced just nine turnovers, allowed TJ Warren to score 40 points and watched the Suns shoot 59 percent from the field during the final three quarters.

“We had a good start,” Brooks said. “They were active on defense and we were moving them around on offense, and then we relaxed. You give a team confidence, it’s hard to turn it off. We couldn’t stop Warren. Back-door, his right hand, offensive rebounds, he was having his way with any of our players that were guarding him.

“If we don’t have the defensive urgency you’re not going to have success. We have to change the way we approach every possession. You can’t just pick and choose possessions. We were shorthanded and guys didn’t lock in. They had their way. Back-doors, transition, we didn’t turn them over. Normally we’re a good team that forces turnovers and historically, or this season, this team has been having a lot of turnovers. We didn’t have the defensive intensity the last three quarters, and it showed with the outcome of the game.”

Ugly. Kelly Oubre remained in the starting lineup because Otto Porter was out with the flu. Jason Smith started in place of healed Markieff Morris, who served his one-game suspension Wednesday. Oubre had his worst night of what has been a more productive season early on. He had five personal fouls, two turnovers and just two rebounds. He had to be removed from the floor with 9:09 to play in the first quarter after picking up two fouls. Tuesday, Brooks explained that Oubre had improved his risk-taking when chasing deflections or being aggressive on defense this season. Wednesday, those pursuits put him in early foul trouble and led to his most ineffective game of the season.

Ugly. Brooks didn’t think the maladies of Friday night carried similarities to the problems in the Wizards’ other ugly loss early this season: last week against the Los Angeles Lakers. As Brooks pointed out, Washington held Los Angeles to 92 points in regulation. Phoenix scored 107 points in three quarters tonight. However, he lamented the defensive intensity. Bradley Beal, who scored 40 points, was not pleased.

“We were undisciplined,” Beal said. “We were too cool. We thought it was going to be a cakewalk. They busted our ass, plain and simple.”



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