The Wizards let an 11-point, second-half lead evaporate into a tie, went back ahead by five with about four minutes remaining and then made a series of blunders — on both ends of the floor and at the foul line — that had them smarting and huddling with each other in the locker room after the game. Even with Wall playing his most efficient game, and Bradley Beal playing the best game of his rookie season, the Wizards still couldn’t close.
“We didn’t put them away. We never put the pedal the metal. We never stepped on their throats. We let them win this game,” Beal said after posting new season-best marks in points scored (26), three-pointers made (six) and matching his career high with six assists. “We did some dumb stuff down the stretch, and we didn’t execute, really. That’s what really killed us. It’s real disappointing because we let them in too easily.”
Despite the breakdown, the Wizards still had ample opportunities to start their five-game trip with a victory. Wall had his first double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 assists in 26 minutes and came up big in the final minute. With the score tied at 94, Wall stripped the ball from Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, his former college roommate at Kentucky, sped up the floor and drew a foul with 30.4 seconds remaining.
Wall, however, missed both free throws. Then, on the next defensive possession, Martell Webster played Kings guard Tyreke Evans too closely near the three-point line and let him blow past him. Nene slid up to help but tripped Evans, sending him to the foul line with 11.4 seconds left. Webster and Nene argued at the foul line and Evans (21 points, eight assists) made the decisive free throw.
“That’s how you do it, John Wall,” a fan shouted at Wall before Evans missed the second free throw badly and set up the final possession for the Wizards.
Beal drove inside and attempted a one-handed shot similar to the one he hit last week to defeat Oklahoma City, but it was too hard. Wall grabbed the rebound, but his rushed attempt to win came up well short as time expired. The Wizards are now 3-13 in games decided by six points or less.
“Upset that I gave away those two free throws,” Wall said. “We just got to do a better job of closing out quarters, closing out halves and execute at the end of the game. I feel like we just gave the game away. We got to make plays, make shots and make defensive stops and we didn’t do that.”