Wizards falter against Clippers physicality as Deni Avdija battles foul trouble

Feb 24, 2021 | Deni Avdija

The seemingly improbable five-game winning streak for the Washington Wizards is now over after a 135-116 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Despite a 24 point deficit midway through the second quarter, the Wizards fought back to make it a five-point game entering the fourth quarter thanks to a 17-4 run to end the third. The home team would eventually pull away as Washington could not complete a massive comeback for the second time in as many nights. Now twice in three games, Deni Avdija played less than 12 minutes and did not record a single point for the second time in his young NBA career.

“We know what it takes to win games and we didn’t do that for a full 48 minutes tonight,” Russell Westbrook put simply after the loss.

One of the better defensive teams in the NBA with multiple players that can defend individually at a high level, it makes sense that the Clippers were able to get off to a big start by holding the Wizards to just 20 first-quarter points. Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal were held to seven points on 3-for-10 shooting, while Paul George and Kawhi Leonard combined for 23 points on 10-for-13 shooting in the first frame alone.

“We didn’t handle their physicality to start the game,” Brooks attributed the slow start. “I thought they did a great job of setting the tone, got into our bodies. They were just being physical, they were holding us, and we weren’t moving and when you don’t move, nobody is going to get called for a foul. Give them credit, they set the tone early and we didn’t respond as well as we needed to.”

Despite a stellar fourth-quarter performance against the Lakers, the momentum did not continue the following night for Avdija as he picked up three fouls in the first half in just four minutes of play. The rookie has noted previously his feelings that he may be more prone to whistles given his inexperience and standing in the league, which has some truth to it but also requires an adjustment on Avdija’s part to not give the officials any chance to call toss-up fouls on him. Just another of many lessons the 20-year old will learn from in one of the most chaotic seasons for a rookie.

“He’s getting great experience. Part of being an NBA player is going all of these experiences and you go through them for the first time and the next time you go through it you’re going be a little bit better of handling it,” Scott Brooks said prior to the Lakers game on Monday.

The Wizards will wrap up their first West Coast road trip of the season on Thursday in Denver where the Nuggets will look for revenge after Washington bested them at home last Wednesday.

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