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One aspect of free throw shooting is mental. It is knowing on some level that a so-so free throw shooting performance does not necessarily result in defeat. It is the freedom of being allowed to fail.

The psychology is not unlike that of a high-volume shooter who is permitted two bad shots a game. He is allowed his two bad shots because of a trade-off that favors the team.

The Wizards lack that sense of liberty now. They need consistency from Butler and Jamison, they need to take care of the ball on offense, and they need to convert a high percentage of their free throw attempts.

If not, a 14-point lead early in the fourth quarter is not necessarily large enough, as was the case in Milwaukee.

The Wizards, forever defensively flawed, have regressed there in the absence of Haywood, a genuine shot blocker. Opponents are shooting 50 percent from the floor, a troubling statistic.

None of it is pretty.

And the grim prognosis is not apt to change appreciably in the short term.