Wizards Fall to the Suns After Blowing a 22-point Lead
John Wall of the Wizards throws down the ball. Phoenix came from behind to defeat Washington 122-116 at the Capital One Area in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, November 1, 2017. Robert Eubanks/DC Sports Box
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Washington Wizards (4-3) blew a 22-point lead to the Phoenix Suns (4-3) Wednesday night at Capital One Arena falling 122-116. It was a tale of two halves. Coming off a 2-2 West Coast trip followed by two-days rest, Washington came out sharp at home, dominating the Suns 32-15 in the first quarter. Unfortunately for the Wizards, the game went the full four quarters.
 
After having their way offensively in the first and holding the Suns to just 15 points, the Wizards gave up 37 points in the second quarter and then 35 in the third, completely reversing the tone of the game. By the time the fourth quarter began, the Wizards found themselves in a ballgame with momentum swung against them.

“We didn’t have the urgency defensively. It’s a team thing,” Coach Scott Brooks told the Washington Post. “I take responsibility in how we come out in games and we come out at half. We have to do a better job being consistent in both halves.”

Phoenix outscored Washington 35-26 in the fourth quarter behind T.J. Warren’s career-high 40 points on 72 percent shooting and 10 rebounds.  Devin Booker, one of a number of Kentucky Wildcats playing in the game, added 22 points for the Suns who improve to 4-1 under new head coach Jay Triano.

Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 40 points on 12-of-25 shooting including 6-for-12 from beyond the arc and 10-for-11 at the free throw line.  Three-time all star John Wall finished with 21 points on 10-of-18 but was 0-for-4 from the free throw line with four turnovers and a season-low six assists.

The Wizards went up 43-21 after forward Mike Scott completed a 3-point play with 9:39 remaining in the half.  From that point, the teams switched roles. Phoenix wings T.J. Warren and Devin Booker combined to score 24 points and cut the Wizards lead to 12 heading into halftime. In the second half, it was the Suns that came out crisply with a renewed energy and executed.

Washington missed its first three shots to open the fourth quarter and lost the lead for the first time in the game after Kentucky product Tyler Ulis sank two free throws to put Phoenix up 92-90. The suns rallied an 8-0 run with under two minutes left, led by Warren’s five points during the stretch. Protecting a six-point lead, Warren blocked a Beal 3-point attempt with one second remaining to end the game.

"For us to sit here and act like we're somebody, we're not," said Beal after the game. "We haven't proven nothing, we haven't done nothing. So we've got to stay aggressive at all times.

Two is a coincidence, three is a trend; Washington has now lost double-digit leads in all three of their home games this season. The loss comes at even more of a disappointment considering the Suns were coming into the came on the back end of a back-to-back. The Suns outscored the Wizards 70-52 in the second half to even their record at 4-4.

Bradley Beal of the Wizards dribbles against a defender. Phoenix came from behind to defeat Washington 122-116 at the Capital One Area in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, November 1, 2017. Robert Eubanks/DC Sports Box
“Just unacceptable. Just got to be able to take teams out,” said Wizards forward Scott. “[We] should've took out the Lakers, Warriors, now tonight so it's unacceptable.”

Washington was without forward Otto Porter and his 18.7 points and 7.5 rebounds per game because of a stomach illness. Porter, a defender with good size and length, most likely would have been on Warren. Scott filled in admirably with 12 points and eight boards but it wasn’t enough to counter Warren and Booker’s combined 62 points.

“Otto obviously would have helped,” Brooks surmised after the game. “He’s one of our good defenders and a knock down shooter. We couldn’t stop [Warren]. He was 16-for-22. If it was a five-quarter game he would have had 55. Couldn’t stop him.”

But a very frustrated Beal was not ready to capitulate or agree with his head coach after the game.

“No. We’ve got enough guys in here to step up and make plays. Enough guys to win a ballgame. We were up 20. So, Otto wasn’t playing. That’s no excuse. That’s no excuse at all. Doesn’t matter who we’re playing. We have enough guys in here to step up and win games.”

Fortunately for the Wizards, Porter and power forward Markieff Morris (suspension) are expected to return to the starting lineup for Friday’s when Washington welcomes the Cleveland Cavaliers.
 
Written by Teddy Owusu