- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 12, 2012

PHILADELPHIA — Hopefully, no one on the Washington Wizards harbors any superstitions about playing on Friday the 13th, when they will face the Philadelphia 76ers.

But after their display of offensive ineptitude in a 78-64 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night, perhaps the Wizards already have seen their version of a horror movie.

Shots went in, then rimmed out. Shots clanged off the backboard. Shots hit the front of the rim, and took awkward bounces. And some shots missed everything in sight. By the time the buzzer sounded, the Wizards had scored the fewest points in franchise history.

In the visitors’ locker room at United Center, guard Nick Young’s struggle to find words mirrored his struggle to find his shooting touch. He just kept shaking his head.

“It was just tough out there. Everything was short for me. I was missing shots and struggled all night,” Young said. “After I missed a couple of shots, I just tried to get things going anyway I could. That caused me to force some shots. I just have to practice harder and play better.”

Washington has played 10 games and is shooting just 39.7 percent. Only twice, against New York and Toronto, have they shot above 45 percent. In five of their 10 games, they’ve been stuck in the 30s, reaching a season-low 31.0 percent against the Bulls. They rank 29th of 30 teams in scoring with 83.6 points per game.

Like Young, point guard John Wall couldn’t explain it.

“I don’t know. We’re all getting good shots,” Wall said. “There are only a couple of games in the beginning when we were taking bad shots, but lately we’ve been getting good shots. They just haven’t been falling. That’s the toughest part.”

Forward Trevor Booker also provided no answers for what ails the offense, but he did offer the hope that better defense could help turn things around.

“We had some open looks; we didn’t knock them down,” Booker said. “We’ve done better on defense. There are still some things we need to improve on [defensively], and our offense is coming around. We’re playing more as a team right now.”

By “coming around,” Booker explained, he meant that the team’s shot selection is improving. Unfortunately, the results are not.

“But playing good defense usually leads to easy baskets on the offensive end,” he said, “so if we can get a couple of easy baskets, maybe we can get our confidence up and knock down a couple more shots.”

It was Jordan Crawford who emerged as the optimist of the group.

“Once we start making shots, then we’ll be really hard to play against,” Crawford said. “I think we’re improving as a team. There’s no more blowouts. I think we on the right track right now. We missed some shots [against Chicago], but we ain’t worried about it.”

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