Wizards, Hornets look to overcome defensive struggles in Charlotte

Sports
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A couple of teams that have numerous defensive issues to sort through meet Tuesday night at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C.

The Washington Wizards and Charlotte Hornets are coming off losses that tended to be defined by shortcomings on defense.

“Lack of focus at the end of the floor in our coverages,” Hornets coach James Borrego said.

The Hornets allowed 71 second-half points in a 122-107 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Wizards were drilled in a 135-119 setback to the Los Angeles Clippers.

“Our biggest problem right now is defense,” said Wizards guard/forward Troy Brown Jr.

Washington has won only one of its past six games. The Wizards have allowed at least 125 points in four of those losses.

The Hornets tend to have waning aggression at times and that has allowed openings for opponents.

“It caught up to us in the end,” Hornets forward Miles Bridges said. “We have to come out more aggressive. When we’re playing aggressive, we’re playing at our best.”

So even for a Charlotte team that has evolving lineups and some glitches on offense, particularly when perimeter shots aren’t falling, it tends to come back to what’s going on defensively.

“We’ll come in, work on our defense some more and get after it another day,” Borrego said.

Part of the problem from a defensive standpoint came on the perimeter during the weekend, with Atlanta knocking in 18 shots from 3-point range.

“We have to do a better job of getting in there, being on task and staying with the game plan,” rookie forward P.J. Washington said.

Bridges, who scored 31 points in a loss to Washington last month, said, “Defense has been our main focus the whole year, but we’ll try to get it back next game.”

Washington, who scored 20 points in Sunday’s game, exited in the fourth quarter with a sprained right ankle. His status might be unclear for this week.

Borrego is trying different combinations, even without injuries impacting rotations. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who hadn’t been on the court for 10 straight games, was used in Sunday’s game.

“He stayed ready,” Borrego said. “He’s working.”

The Hornets are 1-3 as part of the five-game homestand that closes with the Washington game.

Defense has continued to let down the Wizards, who average the second-most points per game in the Eastern Conference with 118.2. That production often goes for naught when Washington can’t get the job done at the other end of the court.

Frustrations have boiled in recent games, with some of the angst directed at officials. Not allowing that to become a distraction is something the Wizards are working on.

“We’re all in this together,” guard Bradley Beal said. “We’ve obviously got to continue to play basketball.”

This is the beginning of a three-game stretch of road games for the Wizards, who’ve lost their past three road games. Each of the three opponents in the upcoming stretch is below .500 and none of them have reached the 10-win mark for the season. Of course, the Wizards, with a 7-15 record, are also in that category.

–Field Level Media

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