After a rare two-day reprieve between games, the Wizards will return to action on Monday in Charlotte for a meeting of the NBA’s two worst teams. If the Wizards and Bobcats combined their win total this season, they would still have fewer wins than 25 other teams.
The Wizards have lost 10 of their past 11 games, but they have owned the season series with the Bobcats, winning two out of three when the teams met in late January right after Coach Randy Wittman took over for Flip Saunders.
And while the finish line in clearly within range, the Wizards (12-44) still believe there is a purpose to the final 17 days of the season – one that goes beyond securing enough Ping-Pong balls to land Kentucky big man Anthony Davis.
“Try to win them all,” John Wall said, when asked what he wanted to accomplish with 10 games left. “I mean, that’s going to be tough to do, but you want win games.”
The Wizards face only four teams with losing records the rest of the way – they play Charlotte and Cleveland twice – and their other six opponents have winning records and are in the playoff race, jockeying for position. After they play Charlotte on Monday, they will host Orlando on Tuesday, take two days off, then head to New York on Friday and host Cleveland the next night.
“I think we got to approach them, kind of with excitement. It’s going to be the first time all season where we won’t have to play back-to-back-to-back like we been doing. I think we get our legs, we can get a couple of wins,” Jordan Crawford said. “More than anything, it’s just game experience. It’s a lot of stuff I want to work on as a player and I can improve on. I’m going to go out and compete, play my hardest, like we in the championship.”
For the players like Brian Cook, James Singleton and Cartier Martin, who will all be free agents this summer, this is a critical time.
“Me, personally, this is my contract year. I’m trying to just come in and play hard and be a professional. I know, for a lot of these guys, they’ve been going through it all year. Hopefully, the guys take the mentally, that we’re going to stick together and finish out strong,” Cook said. “This is something we all love to do. We all love to play and we’re very blessed to play this game. We’ve got to continue to keep that in mind. Obviously, we’re not having the season that the Wizards want to have, but we’ve got to keep it positive and keep on going.”
Wall said the Wizards’ record over the past few weeks hasn’t been indicative of how much the team has improved since acquiring Nene at the trade deadline. In six games with the Nene, the team won just two but held all of their opponents to fewer than 100 points and lost the other four games by a combined 11 points.
“We are happy with the team we have. We’re playing more as a team. We’re playing hard with this group of guys.”
The Wizards still need to go at least 3-7 the rest of the way to avoid the worst winning percentage in franchise history. Right now, they are on pace to win just 14 games. “You just want to come and finish strong, with a good push. Show some pride,” Shelvin Mack said. “Don’t try to tank it in, just because the season is over with, compete every day and try to get better.”
Nene is still hoping to return at some point this week, but Trevor Booker could be out a while longer after aggravating his left foot injury doing individual drills. Andray Blatche and Rashard Lewis are both longshots to return.
Chris Singleton said the Wizards shouldn’t be concerned about what they have or don’t have the rest of the way; they should just focus on getting better.
“You just got to build momentum to next year. The pieces are here. Just missing one or two. We’ve got a lot of people injured, but when we’re healthy, everyone has seen us play. We got some tough teams coming up, just try to earn their respect.”