SALT LAKE CITY — There’s a subtle difference between losing in a blowout and what happened to the Washington Wizards Monday night against the Utah Jazz. It’s best for the Wizards’ resident truth teller, Markieff Morris, to explain.
“You can get your [tails] whupped and you’ll be okay. That’s when you lose by 15 or 20,” Morris said. “But losing by 40? We’re not even fighting back.
“They beat our [tails] times two.”
Morris found ways to quantify a 116-69 loss that belongs on the back pages of history. The 47-point margin is the second-worst in franchise history. In 1971, the Baltimore Bullets lost by 52 points to a Milwaukee Bucks team featuring Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. At least that team faced two of the best players in league history; these Wizards have no such excuse. They also don’t have an reason behind the wild pendulum swings of the season.
“I don’t know how to explain it,” Coach Scott Brooks said after Monday night’s loss. “I was definitely caught off guard how we played. I wasn’t expecting that because we haven’t played this way all year. Even the games we lost, it was down to the last three or four minutes. I wouldn’t imagine we could ever be down 47 points.”
Through 23 games, the Wizards (12-11) have beaten teams over .500, such as the Detroit Pistons (twice), and collected road wins against Toronto, Milwaukee and Minnesota — and two of those victories came without John Wall on the floor. Yet they’ve also fallen to lightweights such as the Los Angeles Lakers, Charlotte Hornets and Dallas Mavericks, who were 1-10 at the time.
“I put a lot on my shoulders because I’ve got to do better and I’ve got to play better and lead better,” Bradley Beal said. “We’ve all got to hold each accountable. We’ve got to be more consistent on a nightly basis, everybody one through 15.”
Once boastful of being the “best team in the East,” Washington now barely has the best record in its division. The four other Southeast teams started Tuesday with losing records.
“We had some ups and downs but this season we almost always stayed in the game,” Tomas Satoransky said. “Really frustrating night for us but like I said, we have to forget about it and be focused and be consistent. It’s true Detroit was one of our best games and now this is one of the worst ones. We have to try and find a way to play good every time.”
The Wizards can take solace in their recent company. Among the four teams that experienced a 40-point-or-more loss this past season, two still made the postseason — although for abbreviated runs. On Jan. 28, the Los Angeles Clippers suffered the season’s largest margin of defeat, a 46-point drubbing to the Golden State Warriors, and advanced to the first round of the Western Conference playoffs where they lost in seven games to the Jazz. This past December the Atlanta Hawks lost by 44 to the Toronto Raptors and eventually became first-round prey to the Wizards.
After Monday night, however, the postseason seemed like the last topic of conversation inside a mostly silent locker room. Instead, the Wizards looked forward to the next day, attempting to move as far away from this humbling night as possible.
“They beat the [expletive] out of us,” Morris said. “But you know, just another game. We’re going to sleep on it and have another one tomorrow.”