It took the Washington Wizards 1,489 days to see what it felt like have a .500 record once again. And it was nice. For three days, they were a fun bunch. They traded jokes in the locker room, addressed those that doubted their ability to execute a turnaround, and fantasized about where they could finish in the mediocre Eastern Conference. A week later, the Wizards are learning that prosperity — even the mundane kind — can be hard to maintain for a franchise so accustomed to the opposite. The Wizards (9-11) have lost two more starters to injury and given away two very winnable games at home against a Milwaukee Bucks team that had the league’s worst record and a tired Denver Nuggets team on the tail end of a six-game road trip. “You just get too excited about too many different things. You start loosening up a little bit and you start feeling good about yourself,” center Marcin Gortat said, shaking his head after the Wizards lost 75-74 on Monday to the Nuggets. “Teams like Milwaukee are going to come into your house and punk you on your own court? I just didn’t anticipate that. I knew we couldn’t get excited about winning. I knew we’ve got to get focused on everything we do. The NBA season is long. We still got an opportunity to win a lot of games. We tripped a few times, but it shows that we’ve got to become better.” The Wizards’ past two losses were especially upsetting because they were in position to win both games. They rallied from a 15-point deficit Friday and took a five-point lead against the Bucks when John Wall made a pull-up jumper with 54.9 seconds remaining in regulation, but Washington didn’t convert another field goal for the remainder of the game in a 109-105 overtime loss. Three days later against Denver, with Nene resting a sore right heel and Martell Webster nursing a sprained left ankle, the Wizards blew a 12-point second-half lead and failed to get a field goal for the final 4 minutes. After Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried dunked to give his team the lead for good, the Wizards had two turnovers and missed three shots with a chance to go ahead. “We had two games that we should’ve won,” Trevor Booker said. “But we just got to keep working. We can’t hang our heads. Hopefully, we’ll get the next one.” The Wizards would hope to have Webster and Nene for their next two games against Atlanta and the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday and Saturday, respectively. They have yet to win a game without Nene this season. Regardless of which players are on the floor, the team’s inability to close out opponents is a concern. In four of their 11 losses, the Wizards have blown double-digit leads. They lost to Philadelphia in the home opener after leading by 14 in the third quarter, to Oklahoma City after leading by 12 points in the fourth quarter and to Cleveland after leading by 15 late in the second period. Washington led 56-48 when Wall made a pull-up jumper with 5:48 left in the third quarter against Denver, but the lead was only two points at the start of the fourth quarter. The Wizards are now 3-3 in games decided by five points or fewer.
Wizards inability to close out games continues to be a concern
Washington Post | Dec 11