The most grueling and physically challenging part of the season — a lockout-shortened special that created 10 games in 14 days — has finally been complete and the results were gruesome, expected.
They lost nine of the 10 games, including a 110-98 blowout loss on Friday in New Jersey — the third game in three nights — and were without starters Nene and Trevor Booker with the same left foot injury for the last five games of the stretch. Nene has been working out before games, with the hope of returning to play in a week. Booker pushed himself this week with the hopes of coming back sooner but admitted that he aggravated the injury and it probably “set me back two days or so.”
The Wizards found reinforcements by bringing back Cartier Martin and James Singleton on 10-day contracts. Martin helped the Wizards claim their lone victory, scoring 20 points in an impressive 97-76 victory over a Philadelphia 76ers that has been in the playoff picture all season. Singleton had 12 points and nine rebounds on Friday in just his second NBA game since returning from China this week.
But looking back, the Wizards are just grateful that they won’t have a two-week period like the one they just finished. “Tough stretch for us. A stretch that we’ll never have to go through again as NBA players,” reserve forward Brian Cook said with a laugh.
The Wizards lost the first four games against Atlanta, Boston, Detroit and Indiana – blowing three of the games after leading in the second half. They got the win over Philadelphia, but Booker and Nene both strained the bottom of their left foot in victory.
They held the first five opponents below 100 points, but three of the next five opponents topped triple digits (and the other two had 99 points); the last four all shot better than 50 percent. The defensive intensity was hard to maintain with limited depth and even less rest.
“It’s kind of tough, coming off a back-to-back, off a day, then three in a row, down a few guys, it’s definitely tough. Just try to make the most out of it,” Shelvin Mack said. “The great thing is, for the rest of our NBA careers, we’ll never have to go through anything like this again, because of the shortened season.”
John Wall slumped through the first eight games of the stretch but bounced back for the final two, combining for 46 points and 16 assists, though the performances couldn’t lead his team to victory.
“It’s not too bad,” Wall said. “A lot of guys were fatigued, but that’s no excuse.”
Kevin Seraphin said the players are dealing with more than just the physical grind, with the wear-and-tear of the endless stream of games leading to mental fatigue as well. “Everybody was tired. When you start to be tired, you don’t listen anymore in your mind. That was difficult,” he said. “We play like five games in six days. Really, that’s crazy. Now we will get some rest. We really need to get back Book and Nene. Get some rest, because we need to. It will be different when we get some rest.”
The Wizards will get two days off before playing Charlotte on Monday. Their final 10 games will be played out in 19 days. A much more manageable schedule.