LOS ANGELES -- With a chance to take advantage of losses by the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors on Wednesday to improve their standing in the East, the Wizards couldn’t overcome a 19-point deficit in a 133-124 loss to the L.A. Clippers at Staples Center.
The teams split the season series 1-1. It was the second game of a back-to-back for Washington, playing its final set of the season.
John Wall had his third consecutive game of 30 or more points (game-high 41, eight assists, seven rebounds) to lead Washington, followed by Bradley Beal (27 points, four assists), Jason Smith (14 points, eight rebounds) and Markieff Morris (14 points).
The issue for the Wizards (46-29) wasn’t offense. They shot better than 50% from the field for most of the game and made 13 of 34 three-pointers, or 38.2%, and even rebounded on the level with a 43-41 edge.
They couldn’t defend J.J Redick (31 points), Chris Paul (27 points, 13 assists), Blake Griffin (26 points, nine assists, 10 rebounds), DeAndre Jordan (23 points, 18 rebounds) or Jamal Crawford (14 points).
The Wizards opened strong and took a five-point lead but that quickly wilted.
The pace was furious and literally came down to stops. The Wizards couldn’t rebound from double digits to win for the 17th time.
--The 74 first-half points allowed were a season high, one more than the Wizards allowed the Milwaukee Bucks in a blowout road loss in December when they were sub-.500. The Clippers shot 27 of 46 from the field, or 58.7%, and were 14 of 18 from the free-throw line. Four starters were in double figures by halftime, while Paul was two assists and Jordan two rebounds from double-doubles.
--The Wizards were successful in their 117-110 comeback in on Dec. 18 because they were able to take away options. They gave up Griffin’s mid-range jumper if it meant fewer shots for Paul and Redick. He took 21 which was seven more than Redick and six more than Paul.
--The whistles were seemingly endless, and the Wizards did their part to earn them. Ian Mahinmi (five points, eight rebounds) picked up his second and third fouls in a 33-second span. Morris picked up his third foul at 7:11 of the second quarter. Beal picked up his third with 37.4 seconds left.
--Marcin Gortat’s funk continued as he missed his first three shots. With a chance to push the lead to 11-5, Gortat missed a dunk over Griffin that led to a run out dunk for the Clippers forward that trimmed Washington’s lead to 9-7 instead. Gortat (six points, four rebounds) only played 19 minutes.
--Morris picked up his ninth technical foul when he tangled with Griffin late in the third. Before that, Mahinmi was assessed a technical on a jump ball for arguing a no-call. It was Mahinmi’s first this season. Morris was ejected at 3:44 of the third when he picked up another technical for what appeared to be a delay-of-game call after Jordan was fouled on a drive. Wall drew his fourth foul at 2:18 on a drive in the third and was hidden on Luc Mbah a Moute, the weakest offensive player, to protect him.
--The Wizards made a run to start the fourth quarter when Clippers coach Doc Rivers rolled out an elderly lineup by NBA standards. Paul Pierce, Alan Anderson, Jamal Crawford, Ray Felton and Mo Speights were no match athletically for the likes of Kelly Oubre (10 points, six rebounds), Bojan Bogdanovic (three points) and Beal. Wall returned and knocked down a jumper and the deficit was down to 114-108.
--Bogdanovic had an open look that could’ve pulled the Wizards to 121-117 with a three-pointer in the last four minutes but like most of his shots lately it was long. He was 1-for-4 from three. He was pulled for Smith. Bogdanovic entered the game 1-for-14 in his previous four games played.
-- Otto Porter (four points) only played 24 minutes. He shot just 2 of 6 and missed his only three-pointer.
--Beal made 5 of 11 three-pointers. He entered the game with 204 and needed two to break the single-season record of 205 set twice by Gilbert Arenas. He surpassed that with a pair of threes in the first half.
Final score: Washington Capitals 5, Colorado Avalanche 3
How it happened: John Carlson opened up the scoring by finishing off an odd-man rush in the first period. Mikko Rantanen responded as the Caps got caught puck watching in their own zone, but Jay Beagle tipped in a Kevin Shattenkirk shot just 37 seconds later. Washington established control in the second period with goals from Marcus Johansson and Evgeny Kuznetsov to make it 4-1, but Matt Nieto added a goal before the end of the frame. Nathan MacKinnon dropped jaws with his goal in the third to pull Colorado within one, but Lars Eller put the finishing touch on the win with an empty-net goal late.
What it means: Washington has won six straight games and seven of its last eight. They now have a five-point lead over the Columbus Blue Jackets and a seven-point lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Metropolitan Division.
Caps goal: John Carlson (power play) from Andre Burakovsky and Evgeny Kuznetsov at 4:00 in the 1st period. Three Avalanche got caught deep in the Caps’ zone on a shorthanded opportunity opening them up for the counter attack from Washington. Justin Williams went up to Burakovsky, who went cross-ice to Kuznetsov who dropped it back to the trailing Carlson. Carlson then wristed it home. Caps 1, Avalanche 0
Avalanche goal: Mikko Rantanen from Sven Andrighetto and Nathan MacKinnon at 11:11 in the 1st. MacKinnon took it into the zone and faced a wall of three Caps and dropped the pass back to Rantanen. The Caps defense got caught watching as no one stepped up to him leaving Rantanen plenty of time to get the shot off and score. Caps 1, Avalanche 1
Caps goal: Jay Beagle from Kevin Shattenkirk and Tom Wilson at 11:48 in the 1st. A centering attempt from Wilson was deflected back to the blue line where Shattenkirk unleashed a blistering slap shot. Beagle managed to get a piece of the puck and deflect it in. Caps 2, Avalanche 1
Caps goal: Marcus Johansson (power play) from Kevin Shattenkirk and T.J. Oshie at 4:57 in the 2nd. Good things happen when you shoot. Shattenkirk had the puck at the blue line on the power play and wristed one at the net. Oshie got a piece of it and it bounced off of Johansson and in the net. Caps 3, Avalanche 1
Caps goal: Evgeny Kuznetsov from Justin Williams and Marcus Johansson at 11:03 in the 2nd. Justin Williams sent the breakout pass into the neutral zone where Johansson pounced on it. He fought off Nieto on his way to the net and backhanded a pass to Kuznetsov who scored. Caps 4, Avalanche 1
Avalanche goal: Matt Nieto from Rene Bourque and Mikhail Grigorenko at 13:50 in the 2nd. With the puck in the offensive zone, Dmitry Orlov pinched too far into the attack leaving the Caps exposed after a turnover from Williams. That started a two-on-one with Grigorenko leading the way. Matt Niskanen slid to block the pass, but Grigorenko curled around him with the backhand and passed it over to Nieto for the goal. Caps 4, Avalanche 2
Avalanche goal: Nathan MacKinnon from Sven Andrighetto and Tyson Barre at 4:29 in the 3rd. MacKinnon had the goal of the game as he broke the puck out of his own zone, turned Orlov inside-out with the deke and threaded the needle between him and Niskanen, then tucked the puck into the net. Caps 4, Avalanche 3
Caps goal: Lars Eller (empty net) from Daniel Winnik at 18:38 in the 3rd. Caps 5, Avalanche 3
1. Kevin Shattenkirk: It doesn't look like any more adjustment is necessary. Shattenkirk looks right at home with the Caps, especially playing the point on the power play.
2. Nathan MacKinnon: MacKinnon had the goal of the night in the third period as he deked and dangled his way through Orlov and Niskanen for the goal. He also added an assist with a drop-back pass to Rantanen in the first.
3. Marcus Johansson: Johansson earned a goal with the strong net-front presence, then added an assist on a fantastic individual effort to fight off Nieto and set up Kuznetsov.
Look ahead: The Caps continue their road trip with a game in Arizona on Friday. Then they head to Columbus for a pivotal Metropolitan matchup with the Blue Jackets. They wrap-up the trip in Toronto on Tuesday and then return home for the quick turnaround with the New York Rangers on Wednesday.
Tell us what you think: There was going to be an adjustment period for Shattenkirk when he was acquired at the trade deadline. He now has 11 points in 13 games with the Caps. Do you think he has settled in with this new team or do you think he still needs more time to learn?