The boos returned in full force at MCI Center last night. With good reason.
The Washington Wizards, who will play the final game of what nearly has been a meaningless season, were blasted 114-81 by a Boston Celtics team with little more to play for. The margin of defeat tied the team’s biggest of the season, a 33-point beating by the Charlotte Hornets on Nov. 26.
The Wizards were never in the game, they never led and in the words of coach Darrell Walker they robbed the 17,304 patrons who on fan appreciation night packed into MCI Center.
“That was a gutless performance,” Walker said about the Wizards’ fourth loss in five games. “It was unbelievable. You got guys who want to be out of here, and I hope like [heck that president of basketball operations Michael Jordan and general manager Wes Unseld] can accommodate them. After the way we played the last couple of months and to play the way we did in front of these fans was gutless. It’s not like we’ve been winning 50 games around here and we give that type of effort. Wes and Michael need to take a long look at some of these guys and basically get them the [heck] out of here.”
The Wizards (29-52) have just one game left tonight at Milwaukee in a season that was over almost as soon as it began. After winning the first game over Atlanta, Boston beat them the next night and they never played at or near .500 again.
What made matters worse for Walker, who has spurred this team of underachievers to rosier heights since he took over 37 games ago, is that Jordan was in attendance for the first time since the Wizards beat the Chicago Bulls 101-88 on March 18.
What Jordan saw he was gone before the fiasco came to a conclusion was the Wizards getting pounded on the boards 53-34, just three nights after they were creamed on the glass by the Bucks 55-37. He saw the team make just 12 of 36 shots in the second half and ultimately lose to a team with even more internal strife than the Wizards. Seven of the Celtics scored in double figures, led by Danny Fortson’s 17 points and 10 rebounds.
“We’ve got one more game to play, and we’re going to go out and play it like it matters, I hope,” Walker said.
However, it might be too late for this team. Chris Whitney, who led the Wizards with 25 points and nine assists while playing the full 48 minutes, even admitted it might be time to start over.
“I think we are at that point,” Whitney said. “Some of the players have expressed that, and maybe we need to make some changes. We’re sure there are going to be some changes this summer. They gave this team a chance a few years back, and things never materialized the way we wanted it. I think some changes are going to be happening this summer.”
Boston led by nine points after the first quarter, 15 at halftime and 22 at the end of the third quarter. The fourth quarter became a fun and flashy exhibition for the Celtics, a rare breather of a finish for a team that’s 13 games under .500.
“We’ve played to the last day,” Celtics guard Doug Overton said. “We’ve shown a lot of professionalism.”
The loss dropped the Wizards to 8-8 on Tuesdays, meaning they won’t have a winning record for any day of the week this season. Washington also dropped to 13-13 with Gerard King in the starting lineup. King was the last Wizards player to have a winning record as a starter.