The Washington Wizards were encouraged by their performance in an 84-82 loss to the Toronto Raptors Saturday night. The consensus is that if they simply made some open shots, they would’ve won. Their energy and defense was significantly better than in their showings earlier in the week, when they suffered three straight double-digit defeats.
But the fact remains that they’ve lost four consecutive games, they will have to topple the mighty Cleveland Cavaliers in Ohio Tuesday night to stop the skid from reaching five, and a bevy of injuries is making this stretch all the more difficult.
The Wizards (6-8) had just 10 available players Saturday as Nene (calf), Drew Gooden III (calf), Gary Neal (groin), Alan Anderson (ankle), and Martell Webster (hip) were all out with injuries. The injury wave led to Washington waiving Webster, who is out for the season, and signing Ryan Hollins for front-court depth Monday just before Washington plays its third back-to-back set in eight days against the Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers.
Hollins will be the team’s backup center and will be used immediately Tuesday in Cleveland. Nene, Neal, Gooden, and Anderson didn’t practice Monday and their timetables are unclear, according to Coach Randy Wittman.
Gooden, however, did take some shots Monday and is closest to returning out of the four players. He has missed Washington’s last five games due to the injury, which he sustained at practice over a week ago. Nene left Friday’s loss to the Boston Celtics in the first quarter because of a strained left calf and Neal sustained his groin injury in that same game.
Anderson has yet to play this season after undergoing his second ankle surgery in three months in October. Anderson, 33, signed a one-year contract worth $4 million over the offseason.
“It’s not going to be next week,” Wittman said of Anderson’s return. “But I don’t know the timetable. I kind of let them tell me. Maybe I’ll get you an update on that tomorrow because I don’t know.”