With 5 1/2 minutes left on the clock, the mass exodus began.
The Washington Wizards’ fans had hoped to see a performance at least slightly similar to the comeback victory posted Tuesday against Philadelphia or the upset Friday against Dwyane Wade and the Heat in Miami.
Instead, the announced 17,311 on hand had to endure a fumbling, listless performance from their hometown team. And rather than hanging around to see the final 92-76 outcome, the fans - after booing off and on, and even heckling the Wizards’ players down the stretch - decided to leave.
The Wizards entered the game seeking their first three-game winning streak since April 2008 but for most of Saturday looked as if they would rather not be at Verizon Center either.
Offensive production was basically nonexistent. The Wizards (5-10) made only 30 of 78 shot attempts and never managed to get into a flow. Their 76-point output was 20.4 points below their season average.
“You could say disappointed, embarrassed, mad - just all that could be used to describe how we played tonight,” coach Flip Saunders said. “Never would’ve seen this coming - especially [with] how we played last night, where we controlled the tempo of the game. And then to come out as lackadaisical as we came out, especially after winning two games. We’ve had problems here playing back-to-back games. But that’s not the type of mindset you have to have.”
After riding Antawn Jamison and Nick Young in their first two wins of the week, Washington had to look elsewhere, but Caron Butler’s 19 points, Brendan Haywood’s 10 and Young’s 10 weren’t nearly enough.
Gilbert Arenas sank to another season low, managing just six points on 3-for-11 shooting. And Jamison, who entered the game averaging 24.8 points and 11.2 rebounds, had only six points and didn’t grab a rebound.
It was the first time since March 15, 2005, that Jamison was shut out on the boards.
“I can’t remember that,” said Jamison, who played only nine minutes that night and got injured. “As far as individual numbers, when you lose, when you get your butt kicked like that, it’s not going to go well. It’ll be a long time before that happens again.”
The Bobcats had six double-digit scorers, with Gerald Wallace’s 14 points leading the way.
A night after an impressive 94-84 victory in Miami, the Wizards came out flat and seemingly nonchalant. They made only 12 of 37 field goal attempts in the first half and trailed 42-32 at halftime. When the starting unit failed to produce, Saunders went to his bench. But not even Earl Boykins - who in his first six games with the Wizards had provided frequent sparks - could ignite the Wizards, going 0-for-3 from the field in nearly eight minutes of first-half action.
The lone bright spot of the first half for Washington was center Brendan Haywood, who had a solid performance with eight points and six rebounds. Meanwhile, his fellow veteran starters (Arenas, Butler and Jamison) were a combined 4-for-15.
The only other positive for Washington was that Charlotte - which also was playing its second game in as many nights after beating Cleveland - was nearly as flat. The Bobcats shot 44 percent from the field and didn’t have a double-digit scorer in the first half. Their main edge was rebounding, where they dominated Washington 25-16.
Saunders threw out multiple lineups in the second half, but nothing worked and the Wizards continue to sleepwalk.
“It was just one of those days where we couldn’t find energy,” Arenas said. “It was sad - we sent out our Energizer Bunny, Earl, and we still couldn’t get over the hump. It’s frustrating. You can’t make a shot, can’t make a pass, can’t get a rebound. But in the NBA, there’s usually 10 games you have like that a year.”
• Mike Jones can be reached at email@example.com.
Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Click to Read More and View Comments
Click to Hide
Please read our comment policy before commenting.