Wittman waited in vain, once again, as the Wizards lost, 90-83, to the surprising Magic. He watched his team repeat its nearly nightly routine of falling into a hole, rallying to make the game close late — despite the absence of one of its best players — before extending the worst start in franchise history.
“I’m looking for solutions,” Wittman said after the Wizards lost their fifth game in a row. “We’re trying.”
The Wizards (3-20)are running out of reasons for optimism, with losses mounting along with a steadily increasing collection of battered and bruised players. Rookie Bradley Beal became the latest casualty to this cruel season when he was forced to sit out against the Magic with a sore lower back.
Beal, the Wizards’ second-leading scorer, suffered the injury during the Wizards’ 100-95 overtime loss to Atlanta the night before, when Hawks forward Josh Smith blocked Beal’s dunk attempt, and the guard landed awkwardly on a fall.
Beal, who starred in college at Florida, not far away in Gainesville, woke up sore and tried to test out his back before Wednesday’s game but quickly ruled himself out after being unable to move without a noticeable hitch. His absence left an anemic offense with few options and several stretches of poor ball movement and scoring lulls.
“It’s crazy. A lot of things going on right now and we can’t look for answers. We have to take the battle, have the courage to compete and fight. You can’t be scared,” Nene said after scoring a season-high 20 points in 25 minutes off the bench. “I hope we remember this moment right here, when we’re losing, because, our mistake. Because we don’t compete hard. We don’t do what the coach ask us. And we don’t play together enough.”
Wittman was furious over the Wizards’ performance what he called a “ridiculous” third quarter, when they scored just 13 points, missed 11 of 16 shots, committed six of their 13 turnovers and allowed the Magic to build a 13-point lead entering the final period.
“It’s just more of execution than anything else,” Wittman said. “We don’t have that guy you’re going to just give the ball to and say, ‘Carry the load for us.’ Sometimes when you watch us play, I think it looks like we think we have that guy, if that makes any sense.”
Jordan Crawford had a 19 points, six assists and seven turnovers one night after recording his second career triple-double and becoming the first player in Wizards history to finish a game with at least 27 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds while only committing one turnover.