Washington began the fourth quarter with fireworks.
A sellout crowd had come to Capital One Arena to see a show, after all, with the Golden State Warriors in town over the holiday weekend. But it was the Wizards who wanted to make a splash.
Rui Hachimura started things off by flicking in a three-pointer. Daniel Gafford followed with a dunk, and Kyle Kuzma provided a pair of flashy three-pointers that got the crowd on its feet. But the Wizards learned Monday that they can start however they want — but with Stephen Curry and Draymond Green on the other end of the floor, it’s the finish that counts.
And it was Golden State that delivered the final blows, handing the Wizards a 127-118 loss in a back-and-forth fight.
It was a one-point game with 3:23 remaining before a Green layup and a free throw followed by a jumper from Kuzma that was taken away. It looked as though Kuzma had drawn a foul from Anthony Lamb, but after Golden State Coach Steve Kerr challenged, the officials overturned the call and instead assessed Kuzma an offensive foul.
Kyle Kuzma, learning on the fly, has played himself into the all-star conversation
From there, Curry hit a long jumper, Kuzma committed a turnover, and the defending champions took over. Green (17 points, six rebounds, 10 assists) had 11 points in the fourth quarter. Curry (41 points) had 12 points in the final frame.
It was just the Warriors’ fifth road win of the season.
“Curry, that’s what he does. Some of the other guys got going a bit. . . . Draymond makes an impact in a lot of ways that don’t show up in the box score,” Wizards Coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “Just pushing us up the floor a little bit. Disrupting us offensively. And he makes the plays that, when [Curry and Jordan Poole] aren’t on the floor, they probably don’t bother you quite as much. But you can’t have those type of plays on top of the shot-making, the three-point ability” of Poole and Curry.
The Wizards (18-26) have lost five of six, a sharp downturn coming on the heels of a five-game winning streak. Bradley Beal missed his fifth consecutive game as he continues to recover from a left hamstring strain.
Kristaps Porzingis led the hosts with 32 points but scored just seven in the second half as Green’s and Lamb’s defense wore him down, as Unseld put it. Monte Morris had 17 points and 10 assists.
Kuzma had a double-double as well with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Hachimura added 16 off the bench.
Early on, Washington had a response for the Warriors’ punches, led by Porzingis. He had 25 points by intermission, including a 9-for-10 effort at the free throw line. Guards Delon Wright and Jordan Goodwin were pests on defense, and Deni Avdija had four rebounds in 10 minutes. Hachimura contributed seven points before the teams headed to the locker room.
The Wizards successfully worked the paint as the Warriors (22-22) cooked from the three-point line. They shot 10 for 25 in the first half, led by Poole’s five three-pointers.
But the Warriors’ defense made things difficult for Porzingis in the second half. With Beal out, Porzingis has increasingly been the focus of opposing defenses, and he said Monday there wasn’t enough movement on offense to give him space to work.
The result was a cold second half — Kuzma had just nine points after halftime, too — and Curry, Poole and Green closing things out.
Washington is now 4-13 in games in which the score differential is less than five with three minutes to play.
“We have a lot of tough losses, honestly, this season, a lot of close ones. Even in that 10-game losing streak, we had so many close ones,” Porzingis said. “Ah, man. The losses keep adding up, you know. And it does feel a bit like that again today. But, yeah, what can we do? We have to keep working, keep getting better, keep fixing our mistakes. Seeing if we can turn that.”
Here’s what else to know about the Wizards’ loss:
Despite his double-double, Kuzma had a tough outing from the field (5 for 20) and expressed frustration with the officials afterward, especially regarding the challenged foul call in the fourth quarter.
“We fought pound for pound and then it was just very, very tough at the very end and some things didn’t go our way. It’s really, really tough,” Kuzma said. “I really hope that the officiating crew, they really look at the level of integrity that they had tonight and they do better next round.”
The Warriors are multitasking on their trip to D.C. and will celebrate their 2022 title at the White House on Tuesday.
Golden State’s previous trip to the White House was in February 2016 to meet with President Barack Obama after winning the 2015 NBA Finals. The Warriors did not go to the White House in 2017, when President Donald Trump revoked the traditional invitation extended to the league’s champion after Curry said he would not go. After they won again in 2018, the club made a point of using its D.C. trip for community service rather than to visit Trump.
“The two times we decided not to go, however that played out, thankfully we had another opportunity. … It’s a reminder of the perspective that sports plays in society and how it brings us together,” Curry said.