With the Wizards losing their past three home games to Milwaukee, the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City by a combined 67 points, it might be easy to forget the time when they actually were competitive at home. The Wizards actually started the season 13-9 at Verizon Center, but after their 116-89 loss to Oklahoma City, they have lost 11 of their past 13 at home.
And now, starting on Tuesday in Chicago, the Wizards will play seven of the next eight on the road, where they have lost 29 of 30 this season. The venue no longer seems to matter for the Wizards, who will likely face the Eastern Conference-leading Bulls without veterans Rashard Lewis, Josh Howard and Andray Blatche.
Despite being undermanned, John Wall doesn’t want to use any excuses for the team’s shortcomings. After the loss to the Thunder, he mentioned a problem that has become disconcerting in their past three losses: The games have lacked much suspense after the first half. The Wizards trailed Milwaukee by 16 at halftime, fell behind by 19 in the second quarter against the Clippers, and entered the locker room facing a 21-point deficit against Oklahoma City.
“We usually play good at home,” Wall said, “but lately we have just been playing bad and teams come in here and take home court away from us early. It seemed like [the Thunder] took the game away from us straight from the jump ball.”
Veteran Maurice Evans is suddenly confused about the team he joined at the trade deadline. The Wizards played competitive games against Miami, Dallas, Golden State, and got a win against Minnesota, but those days seem so far away. “I think that as a whole, I don’t think [the belief that we can win] is consistent as an entire group,” Evans said. “I think that’s something that has to be there in any game. I think that is what causes a lapse in effort. Hopefully, in the remaining 17 [games], we can rally ourselves to try to give it our best effort and try to finish out strong with whoever is here. This is the NBA. We’re all good enough players. If you play hard, impose your will, the game is never over with.”
And, Evans said simply playing hard shouldn’t be enough. “I think the will to compete has to be there. I don’t think that’s something we should really be praised for. We’re all highly paid athletes. That’s what we’re here for. I came here hoping to get wins and was really not understanding why we’re not getting wins. That’s more frustrating to me. Trying to be competitive and be in games and get moral victories, I don’t think anybody really ever is happy with that. I’m definitely not.”
FROM THE POST
A horrendous start against Oklahoma City never got any better for the Wizards last night as they were thrashed by the Thunder, 116-89. The postgame wrap-up concludes: “The problem for the Wizards isn’t from effort, youth or inexperience. It’s talent, plain and simple.”
On a lighter note, Dan Steinberg links to video of Wizards players singing Motown (DC Sports Bog).
AROUND THE WEB
Sean Fagan takes note of Flip Saunders’s comments about JaVale McGee’s performance (Bullets Forever).
Here’s how Cavaliers Coach Byron Scott reacts to being demolished by Oklahoma City (Eye on Basketball, CBSSports.com).
In the wake of Miami’s impressive win over the Spurs, Ken Berger says the true test for the Heat will come in the playoffs (CBSSports.com).
Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant lead the surging Lakers past the Orlando Magic (Billy Witz, FOXSports.com).
David Aldridge says there are plenty of NBA ties to be found at NCAA tournament time. And this week’s Mr. Fifteen is Wizards guard Mustafa Shakur (NBA.com).
An NBA referee is taking the Associated Press to court (ESPN.com).