Mon, 06 Feb 2023

Wizards, Hornets still chasing elusive progress

Field Level Media
02 Dec 2022, 05:40 GMT+10

The Washington Wizards and Charlotte Hornets have been talking quite a bit about progress recently.

There haven't been lots of victories to discuss for either team, but one of them will add another to the win column when they meet Friday night in Charlotte, N.C.

"You can't get too down when you don't make the shots," Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. "You have to look at the process a little bit and see if we're doing the right thing, are we trying to play the right way?"

The Hornets haven't played since Monday night's 140-105 loss at Boston. They probably needed the extra time between games to recover.

Charlotte played with nine available players because of injuries and illnesses.

"You have to have the right mentality to guard a team like that and we didn't," Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said.

The biggest question for the Hornets these days is who'll be available. Terry Rozier figures to be back in action as he missed the latest game because of illness.

"He jumped in (at practice) and he looked a lot better than I thought he would," Clifford said.

Gordon Hayward, LaMelo Ball, Cody Martin and Dennis Smith Jr. were out earlier in the week with various injuries. The absences for Hayward (shoulder) and Martin (knee) will be extended.

The rest for the players and staff, along with practice time, has been good for the Hornets.

"It's nice," Clifford said. "I feel like we got some things done."

There's emphasis for the Hornets on individual defense and help defense.

"Guarding the ball has been a problem and defensive rebounding has been a problem," Clifford said.

The Wizards won 106-102 at home against Charlotte on Nov. 20. That capped Washington's best stretch of the season as it had six wins in a seven-game span.

Since then, the Wizards are 1-4.

Kristaps Porzingis has led Washington in scoring the past two games. He had 41 points against Minnesota on Monday, when Washington racked up a season-high 142. The Wizards lost 113-107 on Wednesday night at Brooklyn, with Porzingis scoring 27.

"I did think we did some good things as far as process, creating action against their switches," Unseld said. "So it's growth."

Washington's shooting was off in Brooklyn, with the Wizards making only 25 percent of their 3-pointers and 67.6 percent of their free throws.

"No one is intentionally trying to miss free throws," Unseld said. "You just have to have that level of concentration when there's an opportunity to get some free points."

Before the debacle in Boston, the Hornets had won two games in a row for their first back-to-back wins of the season. Clifford has maintained a positive outlook for the six-win Hornets. He said younger players have shown improvements and should be able to help in bigger ways.

"We have the right guys and they're willing to get better," Clifford said. "It will pay dividends for us in the end."

For the Hornets, Friday night's game begins a stretch of three home games across four nights.

--Field Level Media

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