The Washington Wizards look to apply the brakes and halt their losing ways on Friday when they visit the Indiana Pacers at Indianapolis.
The Wizards have lost four in a row and seven of their last eight overall after dropping a 115-111 decision to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday. The setback was the sixth straight on the road for Washington, which is 3-9 away from home.
The Wizards played without leading scorer Bradley Beal and need to be prepared to do so for at least the next week. The three-time All-Star strained his right hamstring in Washington’s 130-119 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.
“It is what it is, we’ll just have to do the best we can with what we have,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “Not having him, at times in the past it was a comfort level with certain guys understanding they have to step up, absorbing a little bit more of a role and they have had some success without him. There is a comfort level there, but it’s not ideal.”
To make matters worse, Washington’s Kristaps Porzingis rolled his left ankle in the first half on Wednesday before finishing with 28 points, nine rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals. He admitted the ankle was “a little sore” after the contest.
Porzingis has reached the 20-point plateau in each of his last six games, while Kyle Kuzma has done the same in eight of his last nine appearances. Kuzma finished with 21 points on Wednesday.
Individual performances aside, Porzingis is keeping an open mind about the team’s chance to turn around its fortunes.
“It’s about the details,” Porzingis said. “Sooner or later, we’ll get it. … With every game, we have to go in with a fresh mind and take it as an opportunity and get better. And we’ll get there.”
Porzingis collected 15 points and 10 rebounds in Washington’s 114-107 season-opening victory at Indiana on Oct. 19.
Indiana’s Tyrese Haliburton scored 26 points in that season-opening game and matched that total while adding 15 assists on Wednesday as the Pacers concluded a season-high seven-game road trip with a 121-115 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Indiana went 2-5 on the trip.
Haliburton, who returned Wednesday following a two-game absence due to sore left groin, averages team-leading totals in points (19.4), assists (11.0) and steals (1.9).
The recent setback was the fourth in five outings for Indiana, which faced an 18-point deficit after the first quarter before forcing itself back into the game with a strong second quarter.
“There are a lot of positives to take from this, but this is not Peter Pan or Alice in Wonderland,” Indiana head coach Rick Carlisle said. “This is NBA basketball, and we have to face the realities. We have to face the realities of our poor starts and just take the challenge as a group.”
Buddy Hield also scored 26 points for the Pacers on Wednesday, highlighted by a 7-of-11 performance from 3-point range.
Myles Turner chipped in 23 points in his return from a one-game absence due to a hamstring injury.
–Field Level Media