- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Wizards put in a little off-court bonding time Thursday in Philadelphia, before the first game of a back-to-back with the Philadelphia 76ers. The players had a team dinner together at a Japanese restaurant and spent some time getting to know each other a little better.

“We just talked about getting together,” John Wall said. “When you’re a losing team, guys don’t want to be around each other. That’s how bad teams start to happen. Good teams always get around, go to dinner, go to the moves, something like that, so those other guys did a great job of trying to get us together.”

Veterans Maurice Evans, Rashard Lewis and Roger Mason Jr. took the lead on organizing the team outing. Unfortunately, when it came time to play, the Wizards resorted to the same style of one-on-one ball they’ve displayed throughout most of their games this season and were soundly beaten by the 76ers by 31 points Friday night.

“We’re getting closer as a team, but we’ve got to show it on the court,” Mason said. “I think that’s been our problem all year [not playing together as team]. “It’s disappointing [the losing and the selfish play], but it’s not just going to happen overnight. We’ve got to do something about it. It’s not like its rocket science. Basketball is a team sport.”

Mason hoped that spending time together off the court would help the team discover some chemistry — and so did Lewis. It was an important first step, but the Wizards still have a long way to go before showing the kind of competitiveness they displayed in only three of their 11 games so far this year — Toronto, New York and the second game against Boston.

“It was good to go out and eat with the young guys, to try to keep the chemistry together,” Lewis said. “When you do things like that — go out to eat, do different things together, it builds a bond and a relationship to make you want to play with each other on the court and play hard for each other.

“It was the first time we did it and hopefully it won’t be the last, [but] it didn’t translate tonight [Friday]. I don’t want to say we weren’t playing hard for each other, it just seemed like we weren’t playing together on the offensive end of the court.”

Lewis led the team in scoring with 16 points off the bench, but as a veteran of playoff teams and a two-time All-Star, the small forward knows what he’s seeing on the court with this young team just isn’t working.

“It seems like some nights we play hard. Some nights, we play selfish. I thought in the first half, we played very selfish,” Lewis said. “This is a very young team, a very young team that’s trying to find its way. I’m trying my best to continue to work with the young guys, as well as establish myself. But at the same time, a lot of guys are still trying to establish themselves.”