The Washington Wizards are about to start a three-game road trip, and that might be for the best since being at home has been the worst possible way to ring in the new year. The Wizards ended 2013 with a dramatic comeback victory over Detroit, then ushered in 2014 with a three-game homestand that was a complete disaster. The team lost all three, with each worse than the one before it in terms of performance, body language and margin of defeat.
Even the scoreboard above the court stopped working momentarily during Sunday’s 112-96 loss to the Golden State Warriors, but it didn’t keep the fans from recognizing the debacle on the floor. During a dizzying, perplexing and revolting nine-minute stretch spanning the end of the first half and the start of the third period, the Wizards were outscored 33-5 and got repeatedly booed.
The game had slipped out of control long before David Lee made a long jumper to put the Warriors ahead 88-63 with three minutes left in the third quarter because the Wizards’ surrender was already evident in slouched shoulders and disgusted looks. John Wall said the Wizards were “moping.” Bradley Beal said Coach Randy Wittman told the players, “It looks like our dog died or something.”
The loss proved Washington has a long way to go before becoming a team that can truly be taken seriously, no matter how it might look in the Eastern Conference standings. The Wizards (14-17) have lost six of their past seven games at home and are 1-10 against teams that currently have records of .500 or better.
The roller-coaster ride of a season continues as the Wizards have now lost three straight games after winning five of six to reach .500. That came after a four-game losing streak, which followed a stretch of winning seven of nine after a 2-7 start to the season.
“We been wasted a lot of opportunities,” Wall said after scoring 14 points and handing out 10 assists. “It’s like we’re doing the same thing. It’s tough that you’re not getting your separation when the time was right. But you’re still in a good situation but not a great situation because teams [in the East] are losing just like we are. But we have to find a way to win games and solidify ourselves where we want to be.”
The Wizards managed to contain Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, limiting him to just 14 points on 5-for-17 shooting, but Klay Thompson made six three-pointers and scored a game-high 26 points to lead the Warriors to their ninth straight victory. Golden State has won six straight over the Wizards.
Washington looked as if it was ready to change its fortunes early on as Beal scored nine points in the first quarter to give his a team a 36-28 lead. The Wizards led 58-55 when Wall made two free throws near the end of the first half, but Warriors reserve Draymond Green buried a three-pointer to tie the game heading into halftime.
The bottom quickly fell out for the Wizards in the third period. Marcin Gortat got the ball along the left baseline, backed down Warriors center Andrew Bogut and shot an air ball that infuriated Wittman. Wittman quickly called a 20-second timeout and chewed out Gortat for taking the errant shot, but the stoppage in play did nothing to quell the Warriors’ momentum.
Curry lost the ball, but it hit the backboard, and Warriors center Andrew Bogut caught the carom and rammed down a dunk. Lee (21 points, 11 rebounds) gave the Warriors a 71-58 lead with a short hook, then Wall ended a string of six consecutive missed shots with a long three-pointer.
Nene (14 points) added to the misery when he committed two turnovers in a six-second span. He threw an inbounds pass directly to Thompson. The Warriors’ sharpshooter missed a three-pointer, and Nene grabbed the rebound and promptly threw it right back to Thompson, who got fouled and made two free throws.
Gortat only played four minutes in the second half and finished with 10 points. Beal didn’t score after the first period and missed his last nine shots.
“They played two halves; we played a half,” Wittman said. “We’re leaving it somewhere in the locker room and not bringing it out.”
The Warriors outscored the Wizards 34-15 in the third quarter, and the performance was almost identical to a forgettable third-quarter effort by the Wizards in their previous game against the Toronto Raptors in which they were outscored 36-16.
“It does seem that way because it was that way,” Trevor Ariza said when asked whether it was a repeat performance.
The Wizards are just 7-8 at Verizon Center and will play the next three games in Charlotte, New Orleans and Indiana. They are 7-9 on the road, having already matched their win total away from home last season.
“Probably is a good thing we get out of D.C. and try to find a way to get our chemistry back together and playing as a team,” Wall said. “Try to get a couple of wins on the road and come back and take care of home-court advantage because that’s going to be the key if we want to be a playoff team. You got to be able to take care of your home court.”