The pregame session marked the extent of Porzingis’s court time Saturday night at Capital One Arena — the Wizards’ key trade deadline acquisition is still nursing a bone bruise in his knee, which kept him out against the Kings.
The Wizards surely missed him in a 123-110 loss, which saw the team’s offense sputter in the second half.
Porzingis spent his time on the end of the bench in a gray suit, sitting next to Bradley Beal, who sported a sling on his left arm after he underwent surgery earlier in the week to repair a tendon in his left wrist. The organization hopes that pairing becomes a dynamic duo for years to come, with the arrival of Porzingis helping to persuade Beal to stay with the guard’s free agency looming after the season.
Wizards Coach Wes Unseld Jr. said there is no timetable for Porzingis’s return from injury. The team considers him day-to-day.
“My only focus is get back on the court as soon as possible,” Porzingis said before Saturday’s loss, “healthy 100 percent and finish the season strong, consistent and hopefully make some noise.
“Just a bone bruise. I kind of played through it a few games in Dallas, but then I realized something’s not right. Did MRI, bone bruise, nothing serious. You just have to sit out some time and let the bone heal. My feeling is that I’m pretty much there where I need to be to start playing. But I think with these kind of things, you have to be a little bit on the safe side to get enough time to heal and not really re-aggravate it.”
Ish Smith, who spent time with the Wizards from 2019 to 2021, saw playing time to start his second tour in Washington. He came back with Vernon Carey Jr. in another deadline deal that sent Montrezl Harrell to Charlotte.
Smith immediately made his mark with a pair of baskets and an assist as the Wizards (25-30) closed the first quarter on a 6-0 run to take a 29-24 lead. Smith finished with nine points and five assists in 20 minutes.
The Wizards had a 65-59 lead at intermission but were dominated in the second half. The Wizards went cold, missed several good looks and failed to finish around the rim. The Kings shot 56.6 percent for the game, including 42.9 percent from three-point range. They used a 13-2 run in the third quarter to take an 87-82 lead that they never relinquished in the final quarter.
“I though the first half was really good [offensively]," Unseld said. “Second half, we started to stagnate a little bit. … Some of that is shot-making. But continue to move the ball in a timely manner. Find guys when the ball should find them. … I thought we started holding it a little bit, and that helps the defense quite a bit.”
De’Aaron Fox scored a game-high 26 points and Harrison Barnes added 21 for the Kings (22-36). Domantas Sabonis had 16 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in his first game as a King.
Kyle Kuzma led the Wizards with 23 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, while Corey Kispert posted a career-high 20 points and a career-high six assists. Seven players scored in double figures for the Wizards.
“I feel much more comfortable,” Kispert said. “Can get to my spots and know what I want to do. As far as the assists go tonight, the credit goes to everybody else. They were able to knock down shots. … Those guys made it really easy on me. Defense was kind of flooding over, so one more pass was natural, and they knocked it down. ”
Here’s what else to know from the Wizards’ loss;
Neto is on point
The trade deadline saw the Wizards deal Spencer Dinwiddie and Aaron Holiday, effectively pushing Raul Neto into the starting lineup. Barring any unexpected changes, that will be his role the rest of the way.
“We’ve been in constant communication along all the way,” Unseld said before the game. “These last couple days, they moved quickly. So I think he’s aware of his role and things he’s responsible for. He’ll have to take on a larger role than usual. But he’s also been in the starting rotation before. He’ll be fine.”
Gafford still sidelined
Daniel Gafford missed his third consecutive game while in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Unseld said Gafford is feeling better and the hope was that he would test negative Saturday evening. The Wizards have played just one true center, Thomas Bryant, the past two games.
Kings gets an overhaul
The Kings added six players — Sabonis, Justin Holiday, Jeremy Lamb, Donte Divincenzo, Josh Jackson, Trey Lyles — at the deadline and they were all available for the first time. Coach Alvin Gentry said he has never coached a team that brought in six players at the deadline but was eager to get them on the floor.
“We’ve just got to work the guys in,” Gentry said before the game. “It’s a little bit different.”