Wizards lose in overtime for the fifth time


Is this really happening again? (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

 

The Wizards have more overtime losses (five) than victories (four) this season – a statistic that reflects both the competitiveness of the team and the unfortunate breaks that continue to work against Washington.

In the first overtime loss to Boston, the Wizards had some untimely turnovers and a bad scoring drought. In a double overtime loss to Charlotte, they missed some critical free throws at the end of each frame. In an overtime loss to Atlanta, they had a Martell Webster tip in waived off. In another overtime loss to Atlanta, they squandered some valiant efforts from Nene and Jordan Crawford. 

And on Friday night against the Nets, all of those elements came together and contributed to a 115-113 double-overtime defeat in which the Wizards had some untimely turnovers and a bad scoring drought, missed critical free throws, had a Martell Webster tip in waved off, and lost despite some valiant efforts from Nene, Crawford and Bradley Beal.

“It was just staying with it and it just shows what type of team we are. We never give up,” Beal said after scoring a career-high 24 points. “We always stay confident and I always have faith in my teammates to always just keep playing until the end. Until the game is really over.”

But the problem the Wizards encountered against the Nets was an inability to finish off an  opponent despite multiple chances to pull away.

They started the game unable to miss, building a 14-point first-half lead. They ended regulation unable to convert, going more than four minutes without scoring – until Crawford made a driving, winding hook shot and Nene made a swooping hook to force the first overtime.

In overtime, the Wizards scored the first eight points, getting a Beal layup, a Garrett Temple putback, a Crawford jumper and two Webster free throws to take a 101-93 lead with 1 minute 27 seconds remaining. 

“We have to close that out,” Coach Randy Wittman said. 

Perhaps too busy preparing to celebrate with their fans, the Wizards let down their guard and the Nets scored 11 straight points to take a three-point lead with 3.4 seconds remaining.

Crawford had played a practically flawless game through the first 51 minutes, connecting on 9 of 10 shots before having a disastrous finish. He missed two shots, two free throws and had a huge turnover during the overtime collapse, but he found Beal for a three-pointer that tied the game at 104 and forced another five-minute frame.

“My shot, it was great and all, but it would’ve been better if we won,” Beal said. “Keep your foot on the throttle. You have to keep the pedal to the metal, keep pushing the ball, keep scoring the ball, but we didn’t do that.”

Beal nearly pushed the game into a third overtime when he made two free throws with 9.1 seconds remaining, but Nets all-star guard Joe Johnson closed the door on any more Wizards heroics when he knocked down a fallaway jumper with Beal and Webster defending.

The Wizards likely would’ve avoided the wild finish if they had been able to simply convert a few free throws. They shot 18 of 31 from the foul line (58 percent) and missed five free throws overall in the two overtimes.

But Wittman pointed to several other reasons for the loss.

“We turned the ball over,” Wittman said. “We got doubled, we wouldn’t pass. Why? I don’t know why it happens. We missed free throws. Why does that happen? I don’t know why. We did. It’s making one play down the stretch. One play… But I can’t fault anyone’s effort. Did everyone play the best they could? No.”

Afterward, Wittman admitted that the latest overtime letdown was perhaps the most difficult to accept. “Yeah, definitely. By far.”

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.

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Michael Lee · January 4, 2013

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