In the four games since A.J. Price went down with a broken right hand, the Wizards have won a game with just 77 points, lost a game with a season-low 72, produced two halves in which they scored a season-low 36 points and had two quarters that were worse than their previous season-low of 12.
The Wizards had a measly 11-point first quarter in a 77-70 win in New Orleans. During Saturday’s 102-72 loss in Miami, they had 11 points for more 11 minutes, 50 seconds in the first quarter before Cartier Martin made a late three-pointer. Then came the third quarter, when the Wizards scored just 10 points.
LeBron James personally outscored them with 16 in the period and later said, “I was just trying to make an impact in the game the best way I know how to.”
Getting upstaged by one man is bad, but James is a three-time most valuable player and known to shred the best teams. But here are some stats that put in perspective how bad the third period was for Washington:
The Wizards made four field goals. Heat power forward Udonis Haslem was 3 for 3. Dwyane Wade had four assists. Washington missed 11 shots and matched its scoring total with 10 turnovers in the period, which led to 14 points for Miami.
“As I said at halftime, ‘Even though we’re down 14 and we didn’t shoot the ball [well] and they’re going to try and lay a haymaker on you. They try to knock you out in the first two minutes,’ ” Coach Randy Wittman said.
The Heat had the Wizards planking on the canvas, Manny Pacquiao-style, in a performance that screamed of a team throwing in the towel.
“Opening of the third, we had a lot of turnovers. Led to their transition points, which blew the game wide open,” forward Chris Singleton said.
Singleton refused to acknowledge that playing the fourth game in a fourth different city, in five nights played any role in the Wizards wearing down in the second half. “We’re professional basketball players. No matter what, we should be ready to play. I know we might be tired, but it’s the little things. Limiting our turnovers. We had a lot of those. They just had a lot of transition points, especially off our turnovers and that was the ball game.”
The Wizards (3-18) lost their previous two games to Houston and the Los Angeles Lakers by just six points, but they didn’t give themselves a chance against a motivated Miami. They shot 37.5 percent, had 27 field goals and 21 turnovers and simply looked discombobulated.
“I know when I break this down I’m not going to recognize anything we were doing out there,” Wittman said. “One of those nights that nothing fell, and we just had no organization. We didn’t have any direction on the floor. I didn’t know what we were running half the time.”
The Wizards have been one of the league’s worst offensive team most of the season, and they are now the only NBA team that isn’t averaging at least 90 points per game. They were shorthanded against Miami, with Nene sitting out with a sore left foot, leaving them with just 10 healthy players.
But the team is also desperately in need of some improved point guard play in the interim. Price will be out another three to five weeks and John Wall has been cleared to ramp up his basketball activity, but remains out indefinitely.
Jordan Crawford led the team in assists for the fourth consecutive game as starting point guard, handing out six helpers, but his stint running the offense has hurt the team in two ways: the offense looks amiss and his scoring – which the Wizards desperately need – is suffering.
Crawford scored a season-high 26 points against New Orleans, but he is shooting just 26 percent (22 for 83) in the duel role of playmaker and scorer. His scoring has gone from 26, to 17, to 11 to five in the past four games. He shot 2 of 12 against Miami.
Shaun Livingston is the lone pure point guard on the roster, but he has been struggling of late. He sprained his right shoulder against Charlotte, was forced to sit against San Antonio and hasn’t been the same since coming back. In his past six games, Livingston is averaging just 1.7 points on 19 percent shooting (3 of 16) and 1.1 assists.
The Wizards have managed to stay competitive in most games because of their defense, but the Heat had way too many easy baskets, scoring 30 points off turnovers, and shot 50.6 percent from the floor.
“I think we got kind of discouraged because we weren’t making shots,” Bradley Beal said. “And I think that affected our play on both ends of the floor and that led us away from what we wanted to do.”
But Wittman couldn’t ignore the affect that their opponent had on Saturday’s loss. “A lot of credit to Miami. They came out and put pressure on us and we didn’t handle the pressure,” Wittman said. “Instead of really having to execute, I don’t know what we were doing from an offensive standpoint – I wish I could – and that’s why we struggled.”