WASHINGTON (AP) - Washington coach Randy Wittman isn’t content with getting back to .500 and doesn’t want the Wizards to be either.
“I don’t want them to be satisfied,” Wittman said. “We’re back to .500. We’re better than .500. I want them to believe that. They believe that.”
Over its last 14 games, Washington has been within a game of .500. Its flirtation with a winning record has been a source of ridicule. Quality wins over Miami, Oklahoma City and at Golden State were countered by home losses to Detroit, Boston, and Cleveland.
As Washington frittered away most of a 17-point lead against Sacramento, Sunday’s game bore some of the earmarks of those unfocused defeats.
“I won’t accept the way we played,” Martell Webster said. “We should have won by 30 points.”
There were some positives for Washington. Bradley Beal scored 16 points, hitting two 3-pointers in the final 6 minutes. Marcin Gortat added 17 points and eight rebounds.
Nene scored 18 points and led a strong defensive effort, limiting DeMarcus Cousins to 14 points on 3-of-16 shooting. On a key sequence in the fourth quarter, Nene made a jumper, then followed with a block of Cousins.
Nene took little credit for shutting down the NBA’s ninth-leading scorer.
“You know his average,” Nene said. “We did our job.”
The Kings outrebounded the Wizards 49-38, but made only 35.4 percent of their field goal tries, went 2 of 11 from 3-point range, and committed 18 turnovers leading to 26 Washington points.
“That was not an offensive performance we were hoping for,” Sacramento coach Michael Malone said. “Very hard to win on the road when you turn the ball over that many times. We talked about it going in that this is a team that does a great job turning their opponents over and scoring.”
Sacramento’s Isaiah Thomas scored 30 points and had eight assists, but he had little help. Rudy Gay, one of three Kings who averages more than 20 points per game, had five points, hitting two of 11 shots.
Rookie Ben McLemore scored nine of his 11 points in the second half, helping the Kings reduce the 17-point deficit to four. But Beal answered with 3-pointers from the same spot in the left corner to steady the Wizards.
“We wish we could have had at least 10 more wins, but at the end of the day, we really can’t complain where we are at,” Beal said. “We’re in a solid position playoff-wise, but we still have a lot of moves to make.”