Riding a two-game home winning streak, the Washington Wizards hosted the Golden State Warriors on Saturday at Verizon Center, hoping to extend the streak to three. Their luck didn't extend that far. The Warriors defeated the Wizards 101-97, improving their record to 13-7, while the Wizards fell to 2-15.
Once again, the Wizards made a late fourth-quarter comeback run which ultimately fell short in the closing seconds, including a last-minute sequence at the foul line when Wizards guard Bradley Beal used the strategy of making the first and missing the second to try and get a tip in.
"You never want to miss free throws, then we did try to miss free throws," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "And it was as good a miss as you could have. We didn't put it back."
It was also another sporadic scoring night for the Wizards starting lineup, with only Beal (17) and Chris Singleton (10) able to score in double figures, while Jordan Crawford flirted with a triple double and led the team in points, rebounds and assists (22-7-8) off the bench.
"I'm just trying to do what I can to help the team win, simple as that," Crawford said.
It was also an inefficient night for Emeka Okafor, who played just 11 and a half minutes, and went 1 for 2 from the floor with zero rebounds. Wittman relied more on his normal starting center, Nene, who is still working his way back into shape, and playing on a hobbled left foot. In his first back-to-back of the season, Nene played just over 24 minutes Friday in Atlanta and just over 20 minutes Saturday against the Warriors.
Clearly out of gas by the midway point of the third quarter, Nene still managed to score nine points, and pull down six rebounds. After the game, Nene was clearly limping as he headed to the showers.
"I think the big difference tonight [was] we just got hammered on the boards," Wittman said. The Wizards were out-rebounded 57-37. "Second chance points...11-point difference there in a close game... free throws...get to the line and give nine away there," Wittman in a moment of stream-of-conscious rambling as to why the Wizards lost the game.
The bad news continues to mount on the injury front. Point guard A.J. Price suffered a right hand fracture early in the first quarter. He'll be evaluated by a hand specialist on Monday, but believes he could miss four to six weeks.
"I knew I hurt myself right away," Price said. "But I was trying to play through it. I came down the next possession, to throw a cross-court pass and couldn't get anything behind it. I figured if I can't pass, I'm going to hurt my team."
Price now joins John Wall, Trevor Booker and Trevor Ariza as members of the Wizards walking sounded. Without Wall and Price, and having cut Shelvin Mack before the season and releasing Jannero Pargo to sign Shaun Livingston, the four point guards the team began training camp with are either gone, or injured.
"It's tough, man," Singleton said. "We're dropping like flies over here. It's crazy. We got Book [Trevor Booker] out, Trevor [Ariza] out, John Wall – we got two PGs out. We're just going to have make adjustments and keep fighting."
The timing couldn't be worse for the Wizards to suffer another injury. Next week, the Wizards will play four games in five nights. The following week, they'll do it again.
"Guys on the bench are going to have to start coming in, start playing minutes, because we can't play 48 minutes, there is no way possible," Beal said. "I mean guys on the bench are really going to have to step up."
Kevin Seraphin had an efficient night (14 points, five rebounds) as did Cartier Martin (14 points on 5 of 6 from the floor). Martin is enjoying increased minutes in coach Randy Wittman's rotation with Ariza out, but Jan Vesely has fallen out of the rotation completely. In the last four games, Vesely didn't play at all in three, and played just one second in one as part of closing-second inbound play.
Ironically, after playing 17 games, the Wizards are 2-15, the exact same record they started off with last year, the mark which got former coach Flip Saunders fired.
"That's kind of our luck now," Wittman said when reminded of the identical records. "It's tough. No fun. None of us want to be here."
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