After first win, Wizards stumble on big stage

December 1, 2012

What are we doing out here? (REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

At halftime of the Wizards’ 108-87 loss on Friday to the New York Knicks, a group of actors dressed in the uniforms of both teams showed up on the court to film scenes from an upcoming movie called, “Delivery Man,” starring Vince Vaughn and Chris Pratt from “Parks and Recreation.”

Some guy in a headband wore a John Wall jersey and another much shorter and with considerably less hair sported Nene’s No. 42. The crew was supposed to film a few scenes in less than 10 minutes. In the first scene, one of the faux Wizards was supposed to serve as a goon who delivered a hard foul on the faux Knicks’ star player as Knicks fans booed. Then, the faux Knicks’ star player had to make the free throws, but since the actor had the accuracy of Jan Vesely from the foul line this season, real fans at Madison Square Garden booed him, too.

It was a cute little break from the normal halftime entertainment, but also led to some questions about the real life players in those Wizards uniforms in the actual against the Knicks. Because the team that shared the ball, played aggressive defense and looked competent for most of an 84-82 victory over Portland was absent for most of the night.

“I give a lot of credit to the Knicks, I think they just played that well,” A.J. Price said after the game. “Offensively they pose a lot of mismatches to teams in various ways…They just outplayed us. They were better than us. Our energy level just wasn’t that high.”

The primary reasons they lost to New York for the 10th consecutive game was because of careless ball handling mistakes and more of those costly scoring droughts that led an 0-12 start. The Wizards had 17 turnovers to 11 assists and got outscored the first period and third period by a combined, 55-36. They also shot just 14 of 41 (34.1 percent) combined in those periods.

“The first and third quarters were not good for us,” Coach Randy Wittman said.

The Wizards were hanging around early as Jordan Crawford hit a pull-up jumper to bring the them within 16-15. But the Knicks closed out the first period on a 10-2 run, taking a 26-17 lead when Knicks reserve guard J.R. Smith (20 points) made a long three-pointer with 27 seconds remaining.

After that, the Wizards decided to provide some head-scratching plays. Singleton made a lazy pass to Shaun Livingston and Knicks backup point guard Pablo Prigioni forced a turnover by slapping the ball back into Singleton, who was standing out of bounds. Carmelo Anthony then missed a layup, but after grabbing the rebound, Nene threw a pass behind Martell Webster, who was lost the ball out of bounds and stumbled over Knicks forward Steve Novak before falling to the ground.

The Wizards came unglued in the third quarter, when Kevin Seraphin rebounded a Smith miss, then threw a pass directly to Knicks forward Ronnie Brewer, who found Tyson Chandler for a dunk that put his team ahead by 15 points. Price answered with a three-pointer but the Wizards went almost four minutes without a field goal. Bradley Beal hit a jumper to bring the Wizards within 86-65 entering the fourth quarter.

“That’s the thing that’s been the story for us this season with us and droughts,” Crawford said.

The Wizards survived their first game of the season against Portland as much as they won it. They came close to an epic meltdown in their lone victory, then almost found a way to blow the game with a half-second remaining with Chris Singleton calling a timeout instead leading the clock run out and Trevor Ariza getting a crosscourt pass intercepted when any other pass could’ve ended the game.

But that didn’t keep them from arriving in New York on Friday with the confidence that they could have some carryover against the Knicks, who are tied for first place in Atlantic Division at 11-4.

“They are a solid team, but we could’ve got it done,” Emeka Okafor said.

If only the right team had showed up.

“It’s the NBA,” Okafor said. “You just got to keep trucking.”

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