OAKLAND — At some point, the lack of healthy bodies and grueling schedule were going to lead to a dud performance for the Washington Wizards. The team has been losing players and still winning games, but couldn’t avoid a 101-92 loss on Saturday against the Golden State Warriors after John Wall, the catalyst for much of their success, was tossed after picking up his second technical foul for threatening Klay Thompson in the third quarter at Oracle Arena.
Thompson delivered a hard foul on Wall, knocking him to the floor as he attempted a layup. Wall needed extra time to get up after crashing into the basket stanchion. After making both free throws, Wall attempted to get a loose ball before it went out of bounds and Thompson gave him a slight nudge after the whistle, knocking Wall to the floor again. Taking exception, Wall walked up to Thompson and, in a very animated fashion, began to shout, “Go to the basket! Go to the basket.”
Wall added more colorful language about what would happen if Thompson followed his instructions, and both players were given technical fouls. Since Wall had already received a technical foul earlier, he was automatically ejected and angrily left the court with 6 minutes 41 seconds left in the third after scoring 14 points.
“I let the team down getting ejected,” said Wall, who had averaged 22.7 points, 9.7 assists and four rebounds through the first three games of the road trip. “Calls wasn’t going our way, they got a little too physical. Had some words back and forth…I felt I like I was stating my point to say something and I guess they just gave me a technical. We had a chance to win this game. I just let them down.”
When Wall left, the Wizards were down by 12. Theyclosed the gap to eight when reserve Kevin Seraphin made a short jumper. Warriors point guard Stephen Curry responded by hitting a three-pointer — his sixth — and the Wizards were unable to draw any closer until the final minute, when the outcome was long since decided.
The Wizards (25-44) were coming off winning consecutive road games for the first time this season and entered the game having won five of six. But they ended their four-game road trip with two wins, two losses, two more players out with injury or illness and their star point guard forced to watch the finish from the locker room.
Rookie Bradley Beal missed his second straight game — and eighth in the past 11 — with a sprained left ankle. The Wizards were also without key reserve Trevor Ariza, who had scored 25 points and made a career-high seven three pointers the night before in Los Angeles, where the Wizards rallied from an 18-point deficit to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers, 103-100. Ariza woke up on Saturday morning with flu-like symptoms and didn’t even join his teammates in the arena, with Coach Randy Wittman deciding to keep him at the hotel until the team caught its red-eye flight back to Dulles International Airport.
With the Wizards lacking offensive options, backup swingman Cartier Martin had his best performance of the season, scoring a career-high 23 points and making six three-pointers. Backup forward Trevor Booker added 12 points and Martell Webster had 10 as Wittman sat his starters for the entire fourth quarter.
Curry torched the Wizards for a game-high 35 points but left with 6:03 remaining in the fourth quarter after spraining his troublesome right ankle when Martin attempted to wrap him up instead of letting him get into the lane for a layup. Curry made both free throws then limped to bench and eventually the locker room.
“It wasn’t anything intentional. Obviously, I played here a little bit and I had chance to play with Steph. He’s a good friend,” said Martin, who spent part of the 2009-10 season with Golden State. “I definitely didn’t try to hurt him at all. Just a play, I tried to wrap him up so he wouldn’t get an easy basket. He took a slight harder fall than I expected him to.”
All five Warriors starters scored in double figures, with Thompson scoring 18 and Harrison Barnes adding 16. The Warriors scored the first eight points and built a 15-point lead in the first quarter, forcing an already fatigued and undermanned Wizards team into an uphill climb for the rest of the night.
Curry and Thompson ambushed the Wizards in the first half, combining to shoot 14 of 22 and score 34 points as the Warriors went into the locker room with a 58-40 lead. Curry was spectacular as a playmaker as well, as he had five of his game-high eight assists in the first half.
Earlier, Wall made a fallaway jumper to bring the Wizards to 46-33, but Curry used a crossover dribble to get some separation from Wall and hit a three-pointer. Then he pulled up for another three-pointer and later found center Andrew Bogut inside for a dunk to give the Warriors a 21-point lead.
“I was just checking to see what he was from the field: 13 for 18. That’s what it seemed like,” Emeka Okafor said after returning from a two-game absence with the flu. “Everything was just splash. It was crazy.”
Bogut had 10 points and two blocked shots and effectively clogged the lane, keeping Wall from getting to the spots he wanted. In the second half, the Wizards went on a mini-run to get back within 10 when Wall made a jumper with 8:17 left in the third. But Curry tossed an alley-oop to Bogut and Barnes made a driving layup before Wall attempted to make a layup and got floored by Thompson. Eleven seconds later, Wall was kicked out of the game.
“It’s a lesson learned,” Wittman said. “When you get an early technical. You can’t get into anything, talking on the floor. You’ve got to know that. I’ve got one technical. He’s got to learn that. Hopefully, it’s a lesson.”