- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 30, 2008

The broken record that is the Washington Wizards‘ season continued to play on Saturday night as the downtrodden team fell 102-98 to the visiting Atlanta Hawks after continuing every negative trend that has plagued it during a franchise record-tying 2-12 start.

The Wizards, who last went 2-12 in 1966-67 as the Baltimore Bullets, continued their poor perimeter defense, again gave up easy drives to the basket, again struggled to move the ball on offense, again got little production from starters other than Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler, and again couldn’t close the game after a fourth-quarter rally.

“It’s like a broken record, but we’ve got to keep positive,” said shooting guard DeShawn Stevenson, who missed two foul shots with less than 10 seconds left. “It’s tough losing games like we’re doing. It’s frustrating, man. We need to get a win.”

Jamison notched his eighth consecutive double-double with a team-high 26 points - 10 in the fourth quarter - and 13 rebounds. Butler added 21 points, nine rebounds and five assists. But JaVale McGee, DeShawn Stevenson and Dee Brown combined for just 10 points.

Washington got 16 points off the bench from forward Darius Songaila and 10 apiece from Andray Blatche and Antonio Daniels.

Every Hawks starter scored in double digits. Guard Mike Bibby led the way with 21 points and six assists. The Hawks made 11 of their 25 3-pointers and shot 50 percent overall.

Atlanta’s crisp ball movement appeared dizzying to the Wizards in the first half - particularly in the first quarter, when the Hawks handed out a combined nine assists and shot well from the perimeter.

The Wizards switched to a zone defense but still didn’t have an answer. Leading 28-17 heading into the second quarter, the Hawks made three more 3-pointers and maintained their double-digit lead, which was 55-45 at halftime.

After spending the majority of the third quarter in at least a 10-point hole, Washington mounted a run in the last 80 seconds of the third and continued it in the fourth, cutting the lead to 80-77 on an Antonio Daniels 3-pointer with 10:17 left.

The Wizards got another boost, forcing three turnovers and outscoring Atlanta 9-3 to tie the score at 89 on a pair of Stevenson free throws. But as has become a recurring theme, the fourth-quarter momentum fizzled.

Atlanta went on another run before Washington answered, tying the score at 98 on a Butler 3-pointer with 1:10 left. The Wizards had an opportunity to take their first lead since the first quarter. Jamison wrestled down an offensive rebound and tried to dump it off to Songaila in the paint. The ball bounced off Songaila’s hands and went out of bounds.

Atlanta took the lead back after a three-point play from Horford with 12.4 seconds left.

“The first 35 minutes, we were digging ourselves into a hole, and then we started to get a little bit better energy going,” interim coach Ed Tapscott said. “We got a couple of plays made, and we got a couple of shots missed [by Atlanta]. So it came down to the stretch, but the real problem is when you get [17] down, by allowing a 6-0 run out of halftime, then all the energy used to bring us back to 98-98. … The game is about flow, and so you put in all that energy to bring it down to 98 and then they go on their run in the last two minutes of the game to get that separation - then you don’t have enough time to recover.”

Stevenson got a pass from Daniels and drove to the basket but missed the layup. He got to the line with 6.1 seconds left and his team down 101-98 but missed both foul shots.

“It’s frustrating - especially for me,” said Stevenson, who also shot 0-for-5 from 3-point range. “We wanted to get a quick 2. … When [Daniels] got the ball to me, I just tried to get to the basket and draw a foul. We did, down three [and I] missed two free throws - game over.”

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