What can Wizards do to stop their losing streak?

What can Wizards do to stop their losing streak? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers continued what is by just about any measure one of the most difficult stretches the Wizards have been through in many years. It marked 10 straight losses, their longest losing skid since 2012, and 13 losses in their last 14 games overall, a slump that goes all the way back to before Thanksgiving.

The Wizards are stumbling and have been unable to regain their balance. One of the more troubling things is that their extended losing skid has been sort of shapeless in that there is no one reason to blame.

During this 14-game slide overall, the Wizards have ranked 28th in the NBA in defensive rating compared to 16th on offense. But while they have lost 10 straight, they have been 25th in the league in both categories. So, equally as bad.

Injuries have been a storyline, for sure. While the Wizards have been middle-of-the-road this season in terms of total injuries comparative to the rest of the NBA, lately they have been slammed by them. They have no doubt taken their toll.

But this weekend they got Kristaps Porzingis back, then lost to the Clippers who were missing Paul George. Bradley Beal returned on Sunday, but the Wizards still lost to the Lakers without Anthony Davis.

Some nights it’s the Wizards’ paint defense that has hurt them. That was certainly the case two games ago in Denver when Washington allowed 98 paint points, the most ever surrendered by the franchise since the stat started being tracked in 1996-97.

But the Wizards have lost three games in their last 10 when they won the paint battle. That includes on Nov. 30 when they lost to the Nets despite winning the paint points margin by 58-32.

The Wizards’ 3-point defense has certainly stood out recently and not for good reasons. Over the last 10 games, Washington has allowed teams to shoot 39.5% from long range, second-highest in the league during that stretch.

Whether it is around the rim or on the perimeter, teams are finding holes in the Wizards’ defense from night to night and their offense hasn’t been good enough to offset that in a meaningful way. Add it all up and the Wizards have a lot of areas to fix.

One major problem is their schedule is showing no signs of letting up. The Wizards have three more games left on this West Coast road trip and they are all against teams currently holding playoff spots; the Suns (18-12), Jazz (17-15) and Kings (16-12).

Even when the Wizards return to D.C., they will play host to two teams with winning records – the Suns and Sixers (16-12) – before heading back out on the road again.

No favors are being done for the Wizards right now. If they are going to pull themselves out of this soon, they will have to do so on the road and against a good team.

Maybe now that they have returned a host of key players, they can be boosted by knowing they have plenty enough to compete each night. They got close to beating the Lakers, outscoring them by 15 in the third quarter only to not execute on a few plays down the stretch.

Perhaps that was an indication they are close to snapping out of this current malaise. Certainly the sooner they can do so, the better.

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