The Wizards didn’t just lose 92-76 to the Bobcats on Tuesday to open the season with six consecutive losses for the second year in a row — and second time in franchise history. They lost their way, during a game that Coach Randy Wittman described as “mystifying” and forward Trevor Booker said was “embarrassing.”
“You just got to throw this one out. Got to throw it,” point guard A.J. Price said after the Wizards shot an anemic 29.8 percent from the floor, missed 26 of 31 three-point attempts, established a new season low in scoring and trailed by 21 in the fourth quarter.
Washington had taken pride in being competitive against teams such as Boston and Indiana, losing games against those two playoff teams by a combined 13 points in three games. But that feisty, scrappy team was nowhere to be found in Charlotte, where inept offense contributed to an eyesore of a defeat.
Trevor Ariza led the Wizards with a season-high 19 points, but he needed 18 shots and was the only member of the team to score in double figures. Price and his back-court mate Bradley Beal combined to score just 14 points on 3-for-23 shooting from the field.
“We came in lackadaisical, like we were 5-0 instead of 0-5,” Beal said. “Nobody likes losing and today, we were nowhere in the game. [There’s] a point that we were, and then we just gave up. It’s over with now. There’s nothing we can do about it. We just have to move on.”
Beal, the third pick in last June’s draft, was looking forward to his first matchup against fellow 19-year-old rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, his friend and rival from AAU and college. But that matchup was summed up best in the third quarter, when Kidd-Gilchrist rebounded an Ariza missed three-pointer and became a white blur sprinting past a sea of red, white and blue, weaving through open space.
Beal slid in front of Kidd-Gilchrist but started backpedaling and flailed for the ball.
Kidd-Gilchrist eventually knocked back Beal and made a running layup. Beal stumbled and shook his head.
Kidd-Gilchrist, the No. 2 overall pick, impressed with his relentless hustle, scoring 15 points with eight rebounds, Beal had a rough outing as he missed 10 of 11 shots and sat the final 4 minutes 10 seconds after scoring just eight points.
The Bobcats lost all four meetings to Washington last season, when they set an NBA record for futility, finishing 7-59.
But they have a different look with new Coach Mike Dunlap, Kidd-Gilchrist and former Wizard Brendan Haywood, who was obviously fired up playing against his old team. Haywood had eight points, recording an explosive putback dunk early in the game, and 11 rebounds. Reserve point guard Ramon Sessions led all scorers with 21 points and Kemba Walker had 17 points for the Bobcats (3-3), who pummeled the Wizards inside, outscoring them in the paint, 46-24.
The Wizards led after the first quarter, getting 27 points off of 11 field goals, but they had just 14 fields for the rest of the game.
“We just, we played, with no concept of rhyme or reason. With no understanding of what’s going on, concept of the game,” Wittman said. “That display offensively, in terms of trying to do everything on our own, we don’t have a player on the team that we can do that.”
Late in the third quarter, reserve Jan Vesely drew a foul from Bobcats reserve Tyrus Thomas but Jordan Crawford tried to pull a fast one and stepped to the foul line instead. Crawford knocked down the first free throw, until the referees realized the mistake and sent Vesely to the line.
“Nothing against Jan. I was just trying to get as many points as we can because we was struggling to score,” said Crawford, who joked with the coaches on the Bobcats’ bench. “I was just saying, ‘I thought I got bumped on the play,’ making a little joke.”
But Vesely missed both free throws, which wasn’t very funny. After Wizards owner Ted Leonsis complained on his blog about not getting to the foul line in the first five games, the Wizards attempted a season-high 32 free throws — but they made just 21. Nothing was falling for them.
“We’re disappointed, as you can tell,” Ariza said.
The Wizards set a franchise record with an 0-8 start last season and will attempt to avoid matching that start with the next two games against Dallas and Utah, two playoff teams last season, on Wednesday and Saturday, respectively.
“Losing isn’t fun,” Emeka Okafor said after scoring eight points and adding nine rebounds and three blocked shots. “The important thing is just to keep fighting. Not to make it a habit. It’s still early, plenty of basketball to play. Today was an outlier. Today wasn’t the way we’ve been playing.”