They were hoping to avoid historical futility. With a win Monday night against the Indiana Pacers, the Washington Wizards would avoid a dreaded 0-9 start, the worst in franchise history. They were unsuccessful.
The Wizards lost 96-89 in a game that was nearly over after the first quarter, when Washington got off to a miserable start and scored a paltry 13 points.
"To get off to a start like we did tonight, there's no excuse for," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "They're turning down shots to take worse shots. Why do they do that? I don't know."
What Wittman does know is that his team lacks consistency, making it tough for him to set any kind of rotation. Once again, the bench outplayed the starters. Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 18 points, and Shaun Livingston scored 13. The only other starter in double figures was A.J. Price with 11.
"It all comes down to us," Price said. "We can't keep putting our team in a hole like that. Coach comes in after and says he's trying to find eight or nine guys that's going to play hard every night and for whatever reason, our first five is not getting it done."
As the losses continue to mount, the team is struggling with its confidence, which is becoming a vicious circle for the NBA's only winless team. Wittman still isn't sure how he's going to fix it.
"When you're hesitant in your thinking or your actions, you're not going to be confident and you're probably not going to make right decisions," Wittman said. "We gotta figure out how to play a game, a whole game. I don't know who to start, who to play, who not to play."
The Pacers might have offered the Wizards the best chance at a win, as the schedule only gets harder in the coming weeks.
Not exactly an offensive juggernaut themselves, the Pacers entered the game ranked 29th in the league in scoring (88.1). Only the Wizards are worse, averaging 86.8. But the Pacers got off to a lightning-fast start, and shot 60 percent in the first quarter, while the Wizards offense sputtered, shooting just 26 percent.
Once again, the Wizards made scoring runs in the second and fourth quarters, and actually gave the hometown fans a reason the stand and cheer in the fourth quarter, after hearing boos just five minutes into the game. The Wizards went on a 16-0 run to cut the Pacers' 20-point lead down to one, but, once again, they weren't able to close out the game at the end.
The poor shooting that has plagued them through the first eight games continued in the ninth. The Wizards finished with an abysmal 35.6 percent from the floor, while the Pacers finished the game shooting 48.6 percent.
"We weren't aggressive," Jordan Crawford said. "Everybody was kind of hesitant. We want a win so bad that we kind of wait to see what the opponent's going to do instead of us being the aggressor. It costs us."
Pacers forward David West was a one-man scoring machine, leading all scorers with 30 points, while former Georgetown star Roy Hibbert added 20.
The next milestone the Wizards hope to avoid is the worst start by an NBA team in league history, the 0-18 mark set by the 2009-10 New Jersey Nets.
Meanwhile, Wittman said he's not giving up, and he plans to keep trying whatever he can to get that first win.
"I come in here every night thinking this is the night," Wittman said. "I feel good. I might be dumb, but I believe in them, I really do."
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