Wes Unseld Jr. not happy with Wizards’ defense in loss to Spurs


Unseld Jr. not happy with Wizards’ defense vs. Spurs originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

There were a few moments and themes in Friday’s 157-153 double-overtime loss to the Spurs that made Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. unhappy. In a loss where the Wizards allowed the second-most points in franchise history, there weren’t many bright spots on that end of the floor.

The Wizards allowed 74 points in the paint and were it not for the Spurs’ domination in that area, Washington might’ve pulled away. San Antonio didn’t shoot the 3-ball well, with the exception of Keldon Johnson who scored 15 of his 32 points from beyond the arc.

The issue for Unseld was that the Wizards knew those were key factors to a victory over the Spurs. They just couldn’t stop it.

“Overall the second half, I thought our defensive intensity was better — obviously wasn’t great, they scored 157 points,” coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “Some of the areas that we talked about before, the paint defense, 44 points at the half, 74 points for the game, you’re not going to win too many games like that. They didn’t hurt us from 3.”

Johnson went 5-of-9 from deep and accounted for more than 50% of the Spurs’ made 3-point field goals (nine). Entering Friday’s game, he was a 42.5% 3-point shooter and the Wizards knew what he was capable of.

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“It shouldn’t have been difficult at all,” Unseld said on the difficulty of slowing him down. “We went into the game saying he’s a run-off, and we didn’t run him off once. 5-for-9, we obviously didn’t carry that over and implement that in the game.”

It was obviously frustrating for the Wizards to lose a game in which they shot 54.6% from the field and 42.1% from deep — especially when the Spurs made seven fewer 3-pointers than the Wizards did.

Kyle Kuzma led all scorers with 36 points, and he was backed up by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (24 points) and Raul Neto (22) as there certainly wasn’t a shortage of scoring.

“It’s just a whole lot of no defense on both ends,” Kuzma said. “But I think we did a great job, honestly, of just competing. …I think overall you can’t be mad. Played three overtimes. Was it three overtimes? Two? Oh. Well, it felt like three.”

The Spurs were what the Wizards anticipated from the first quarter through the second overtime, but that’s where the frustration was for Unseld and the Wizards.

Dejounte Murray scored 31 points as his pull-up jump shots were deadly all night. Johnson’s 3-point shooting was much-needed on a team that didn’t shoot well from deep otherwise. The Spurs worked the ball in the paint and operated well, and the Wizards couldn’t close out what they’d hoped to.

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“We could’ve done a lot better in certain areas, but I have to give them credit,” Unseld said. “They’ve been playing exceptionally well offensively, they’re scoring a lot of points, they lead the league in points in the paint. That’s not unique. Obviously to this extent, that’s a bit high. But they average 56 points in the paint, so they’re doing something right. They’re playing to their strength.”



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