Hamady Ndiaye limped around the locker room after the Wizards’ 97-91 win over the Charlotte Bobcats. He was disappointed that he wasn’t able to play, angry that he got hurt during pregame warm-ups by simply making a layup.
“He crossed himself up,” Rashard Lewis joked with Ndiaye, trying to get him to smile. “Broke his own ankles.”
Ndiaye chuckled and shook his head, unwilling to believe that he strained his left patella tendon “doing nothing.” Ndiaye said he would try to return before the season ends April 13, but Coach Flip Saunders wasn’t exactly optimistic, speculating that the rookie is probably done after aggravating an injury that he developed while playing for the Dakota Wizards of the NBA Developmental League.
With the Wizards seemingly down to just nine players before tip-off, Cartier Martin decided he would try to play through the pain of his strained right patella tendon, but Saunders realized pretty quickly that the reserve swingman wasn’t right. Bobcats guard Matt Carroll drove around Martin in the second quarter as if he weren’t there and made a driving layup.
“Give him credit, but he couldn’t move,” Saunders said of Martin.
The Wizards (20-56) are losing players seemingly every time they step on the court; they were already without Rashard Lewis, Josh Howard, Trevor Booker and Nick Young. With Mustafa Shakur receiving another DNP-Coach’s Decision, the Wizards really used just eight players against the Bobcats, with three players — John Wall, Jordan Crawford and Maurice Evans — getting more than 41 minutes. Saunders had wanted to limit minutes down the stretch to avoid more injuries, but he has had little choice but to go with what he has available. On Friday, the Wizards didn’t have Wall because of a suspension. He returned, and two more players went down Sunday.
The lack of depth against Charlotte led to some breakdowns, with the Wizards’ starters responsible for 92 of the 97 points. Yi Jianlian, Othyus Jeffers and Kevin Seraphin were a combined 1-for-10 with five points and 10 rebounds.
“I think what happens, when you lose a lot of guys, we didn’t get great bench play,” Saunders said.“Didn’t play with a lot of confidence and sometimes, when you lose a lot of guys, what happens is, the game becomes spurty.”
The game against Charlotte had several spurts. The Wizards closed the first quarter on an 11-2 run. The Bobcats opened the second quarter on an 11-2 run. The Wizards regained control with a 13-2 run. They opened the second half with a 21-7 run then watched the Bobcats rally back with a 22-9 run. Back and fourth it went, with Wall showing some fatigue late, as he helped Charlotte hang around with traveling violations serving as two of his six turnovers.
“At times, all of our guys had good spurts. JaVale [McGee] had a spurt when he played well. John had a spurt, he had 13 [points] in the third quarter. Jordan got us going in the fourth quarter and Andray [Blatche] closed it out,” Saunders said. “It’s nice to see all of your players at different times have a huge impact on the game.”
It’s even better when there are a few other options.