As the cry for 7-foot-3 center Boban Marjanovic carried around the arena, it became clear that it didn’t matter who was on the floor against the Wizards, who sustained their insipid play in a 136-104 loss.
Washington has opened the season with five losses in six games, including three on this Western Conference road trip. While the gloomy start can be blamed on several things — on Sunday, for instance, the offense sputtered, and the Wizards continued to shoot as if there’s an electric fence around the three-point arc — team defense might be the main culprit.
Los Angeles (4-3) shot 54.5 percent from the field. When the Wizards played their small-ball unit, they left shooters open beyond the three-point arc. Poor communication and broken transition defense resulted in the Wizards’ second blowout loss in the past three games.
The Clippers, meanwhile, were strong on the interior, recording nine blocks. Wizards guard John Wall was a popular target; he was stuffed four times at the rim. Wall, who did not play in the fourth quarter, finished with 18 points on 8-for-20 shooting. Bradley Beal joined him on the bench for the final 12 minutes; he scored 20 on 8-for-16 shooting but recorded a minus-19 rating.
As a team, the Wizards missed 22 of their 27 attempts from the arc and shot 39.2 percent from the field. Los Angeles finished with 35 assists and shot 55.2 percent from three (16 for 29).
Center Marcin Gortat played against his former teammates for the first time since the June trade that sent Austin Rivers to the Wizards. Gortat, who spent five seasons in Washington, was a staple in the starting lineup and appeared in every game over the past two years.
Gortat logged 20 minutes, finishing with four points and eight rebounds.
“March was good. I had him for two years. He gave us consistent effort. He gave us consistency,” Wizards Coach Scott Brooks said Saturday. “The Polish Machine, and that’s a good name for him because he practiced every day. He played every game. He was good. We wish him nothing but the best. He’s on a good team right now.”
Gortat doesn’t play heavy minutes because the Clippers are deep. The second unit features a creative passing point guard in Milos Teodosic, athletic big man Montrezl Harrell as well as the 2017-18 sixth man of the year Lou Williams and scoring forward Mike Scott, who played last year in Washington and sent the pregame moments catching up with former teammates.
Against the Houston Rockets on Friday, the Los Angeles bench set a franchise record with 85 points. On Sunday, the group remained unstoppable — especially against the Wizards’ defense.
In the first quarter, the Wizards were only one or two buckets away from drawing even. But the Clippers’ second unit made sure that didn’t happen. Harrell scored at the rim while getting fouled. Scott knocked down three-pointers, just as he did a year ago for the Wizards. And before three minutes had expired in the second quarter, the Clippers had built an 18-point lead.
The Wizards barely pretend to defend in the first half, giving up nine three-pointers and allowing 36 points in the paint. The Clippers led 69-54 and maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the game.
Oh, the serenade. Just 10 seconds into the fourth quarter, fans got their wish. Marjanovic checked into the game, and with the blowout no longer in doubt, the Wizards, too, began to empty their bench.