NEWARK, N.J. — Early in the third quarter, Chris Singleton got a steal and raced up the court for what should have been an easy dunk. Singleton went up, but the shot didn’t fall. Singleton grimaced with an annoyed look on his face.
“That was a crazy fast break,” Singleton said. “I just started laughing, like it was one of those nights.”
Singleton was right — it was one of those nights, and a signature moment in yet another Wizards loss as they fell 110-98 to the New Jersey Nets at Prudential Center on Friday.
The last time the Wizards won a game, Nene and Trevor Booker were in the starting lineup, and the team pulled off an improbable win against the playoff-bound Philadelphia 76ers. What a difference a week makes.
Booker and Nene both suffered the same injury during that game, plantar fasciitis in their left foot, and both have missed the last five games. The Wizards (12-44) have lost all five and 10 of their last 11.
It’s clear that injuries and fatigue are taking their toll. The NBA schedule makers gave the Wizards a back-loaded schedule in this lockout-shortened season, with two stretches of three straight games coming in less than two weeks. The Wizards will have two days off before facing the Bobcats in Charlotte, N.C., on Monday.
“We need to get some rest,” Kevin Seraphin said. “We play like back-to-back-to-back, all these games in a row. That’s really crazy. You’re not listening when your mind is so tired.”
With Rashard Lewis and Andray Blatche both inactive, and Booker and Nene sidelined, the Wizards are relying on Seraphin at center, a 6-foot-9 second year player, and three players on 10-day contracts to fill in, while the regulars remain on the bench or in the training room.
Cartier Martin has helped to provide some offensive punch since his arrival, while Brian Cook and James Singleton have helped add a little depth to the front court, but the patchwork lineup is at a distinct disadvantage against most other teams.
One other player that could be of assistance to the Wizards’ woes is Maurice Evans, but curiously, Evans has not played in eight straight games.
“Somebody’s not going to play,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “Roger [Mason] is going to play; he’s giving us good minutes off the bench. I want to look at Cartier [Martin], that’s why we signed him to a 10-day. We have to look at guys.”
If there was any positive outcome in the team’s latest loss, it’s the improved play of John Wall. Prior to Thursday’s loss to Detroit, Wall had been in the worst slump of his career, averaging only 12.4 points and shooting 32.8 percent from the floor in his previous 10 games.
Wall broke out of his slump against the Pistons, with 28 points and 10 assists, and scored 18 points and added four assists in the loss to the Nets. Unfortunately, just as Wall began to emerge from his slump, Jordan Crawford slipped into one. Crawford has scored only nine points in two straight games, after scoring at least 17 points in 11 straight.
Seraphin and Mason Jr. each had 15, while the Nets (20-37) were led by Deron Williams, who had 19 points and 13 assists in a game the Nets led from start to finish.
With just 10 games remaining in the Wizards’ season, Wall said there’s only one way to approach them.
“Try to win them all,” Wall said. “That’s going to be tough to do, but you want to win games. We’re playing like more of a team and playing harder with this group of guys. We’re just happy with the team we’ve got.”