The Washington Wizards’ enthusiastic public address announcer called out at tip off of Monday night’s game against the Golden State Warriors, “If you need a win like I need a win, make some noise!”
The Wizards fans at Verizon Center answered by standing and cheering until the first Washington points were scored.
However, the noise quickly turned from supportive to discouraging as the Warriors dominated play early and cruised to a 120-100 victory.
The unpleased crowd held nothing back, directing unpleasant remarks at the red and blue.
Andray Blatche, the recipient of many of the jeers, admitted that the heckling negatively affected his game.
“Every time I touch the ball I’m second guessing, I’m trying to avoid the boos. I’m just trying to play a perfect game so I don’t have to hear it,” said a noticeably shaken Blatche. “When you’re home and people are supposed to have your back, and don’t have your back…instead of encouraging you to get better they actually push you down and hope you do worse, in the long run it’s not only hurting me, it’s hurting my teammates.”
The slow start was little more than a continuation of poor pre-game preparation.
“We lost the game before we went on the court,” said guard John Wall, who had 20 points and 14 assists. “Too much joking in the locker room, too much joking through warm-ups.”
Interim coach Randy Wittman said, “When I walked into the locker room before I sent them out, I had a vibe. We weren’t ready. That’s my responsibility.”
The Warriors took a 41-24 lead after the first quarter and Washington’s play remained as icy as the conditions outside the arena.
The visitors shot 54.2 percent from the floor, including a remarkable 65.2 percent (15-for-23) from 3-point range.
Monta Ellis led six Warriors players in double figures with 25 points and eight assists. Klay Thompson added 18.
Nick Young had a team-high 25 points for the Wizards, with 22 coming in the second half after Golden State had built a 65-51 lead. That raised the question of whether his efforts came at an appropriate time.
When asked if Young’s second-half performance was a disservice to the team, coach Randy Wittman provided no answer by responding, “Next question.”
Wittman, however, took full responsibility for the “unprofessional” play.
“That’s about as disappointed as I’ve been,” said Wittman. “I had a sense before the game that we weren’t ready to play. That’s my job … we come in with that effort to start the game – inexcusable. And that’s on me. That’s on me.”
“You think people would be more serious,” Wall added. “[We need to be] more serious and respectable and professional.”
Perhaps then, the Wizards will inspire their fans to cheer.