Heading into Saturday’s game against Cleveland, Washington Wizards Coach Randy Wittman said he sensed perhaps a renewed focus among his players following an embarrassing loss to New York the previous night.
The Wizards instead allowed their fellow lottery-bound opponent to build an early lead before finally shaking off the lethargy. Washington even managed to tie the game at 73 to start the fourth quarter, but the energy spent coming back time and again ultimately doomed the Wizards, 98-89.
Although the margin of defeat was nowhere near as cavernous as Friday, when the Knicks pounded the visiting Wizards, 103-65, Wittman still was left to assess whether there was a carryover from the team’s most lopsided loss this season.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I can’t give you an answer to that, if it is or not.”
In the locker room afterward, players offered few explanations as well for such maladies as the team’s reserves going scoreless in the first half, Cleveland’s 66 percent shooting before halftime or the team’s general lack of urgency at tip-off.
Even worse, the Cavaliers were missing rookie sensation Kyrie Irving, who is averaging nearly 19 points and six assists. The No. 1 overall pick sat out a seventh straight game with a sore shoulder, which figured to give Washington an even better opportunity to win.
Instead, Luke Harangody, a D-League call-up, had 16 points and 10 rebounds to lead six Cavaliers in double figures.
The Wizards, meantime, didn’t get the production from their role players that helped them recently win back-to-back games for just the second time this season.
“It is a grind,” said backup guard Roger Mason Jr. “But we have a very young team, and everybody still has a lot to prove on this squad. It’s important to still finish the season off strong.”
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