Wizards collapse in fourth quarter to Knicks as Deni Avdija is held scoreless

Mar 26, 2021 | Deni Avdija

The Washington Wizards day started decently well but finished with a familiar frustration. Prior to the NBA’s trade deadline, Tommy Sheppard acquired defensive-minded players Daniel Gafford and Chandler Hutchison in exchange for Troy Brown Jr. to Chicago and Moe Wagner to Boston. After being blown out in their first of back-to-back matchups with the New York Knicks, Washington played well early to earn a 17-point lead midway through the third quarter. The home team would then rattle off a 19-4 run and score 39 points in the fourth quarter to hand the Wizards yet another loss. Deni Avdija went scoreless for the second time in three games, unable to build on his 14-point showing on Tuesday.

The Wizards offense in the half-court set is typically a revolving door between Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook isolation as the two high usage guards often have the ball in their hands. On nights when one or both are struggling to score efficiently, the Wizards’ offense suffers tremendously. In the second half where Washington scored just 42 points after 60 by halftime, Beal had 12 points on 4-for-13 shooting and Westbrook had a dismal four points on 0-for-8 shooting. For the game, the Wizards’ starting backcourt combined for 14 of the team’s 17 turnovers that led to 24 Knick points. The road team shot a terrible 61 percent (20-for-33) from the free-throw line as the added salt in the wound.

“I put this one on my shoulder, I got to close the game out,” Bradley Beal said after the game. “I got to get my head out of my a– and be better.”

The difficult up-and-down and adversity-filled rookie season for Deni Avdija continues. The 20-year old was able to follow up a scoreless showing in Brooklyn with the second-highest scoring total of his young NBA career just to suffer another scoreless game in the re-match with the Knicks. Avdija played the second-fewest minutes of his career so far at a shade under 11 minutes as Scott Brooks opted for essentially a 7-man rotation trying to salvage a win on the backs of his starters that eventually proved unsuccessful. Brooks was able to speak more positively about Avdija prior to the game, but that will bring little joy to the understandably impatient.

Deni Avdija – Photo Credit: Washington Wizards

“It’s good for Deni to make some shots in the fourth quarter because we’re going to need him, we got 30 games left,” Scott Brooks alluded to the first Knicks game prior to the start of the second. “We need him to keep improving and keep going through this rookie year and getting a little bit better. Sometimes you take a step back, but I think he’s ready for a couple of steps forward right now.”

Washington will return from their winless New York trip for a three-game homestand against Detroit, Indiana, and Charlotte starting on Saturday night from Capital One Arena. If all goes well with physicals on Friday, Gafford and Hutchison are expected to be available next game against the Pistons.

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