It wasn’t the last bad break the Wizards endured in the final stretch of their 113-106 loss. On the Wizards’ next possession, Isaiah Thomas attempted a three-pointer. Kings guard Buddy Hield made contact with Thomas, appearing to knock him to the court, but none of the three officials called a foul.
Play resumed, and Kings guard Bogdan Bogdanovic drilled a game-clinching three-pointer on the other end, celebrating by waving his shooting hand in front of his face.
In a span of 28 seconds on the game clock, the Wizards (5-9) went from having hope for a late comeback to being buried under a nine-point deficit.
“Seems like we let those calls get to us a little bit,” Bryant said. “Little bit a step slow on defense, and I think that’s what affected us a little bit.”
Several Wizards players echoed Coach Scott Brooks’s postgame evaluation about the offense being “a half-second too slow” against the Kings. That offensive rut seemed to factor into Bradley Beal’s long three-point attempt late in the game and the subsequent interference call against Bryant that proved critical.
The shot clock was winding down, so Beal hurled the ball instead of showing his usual silky touch. Despite the unorthodox way Beal attempted the three, the ball still appeared to be heading toward the rim for an improbable basket. Bryant saw things differently from his vantage point under the rim.
“I thought it was a pass from Brad by the way he shot, and I went up and got it, but obviously [it] wasn’t,” Bryant said. “That’s all it was right there.”
The shot counted as a miss for Beal, and the putback basket, initially ruled as two points for Bryant, was wiped away.
Washington shot 45.7 percent as a team, and Beal returned to mere mortal status, scoring 20 points on 8-for-18 shooting. Beal had reached 30 or more points in five straight games, the longest stretch in his career and tied for the second longest in franchise history.
Reserves Davis Bertans, Moritz Wagner and Jordan McRae each posted 12 points, but some of the Wizards’ first unit struggled. Rookie Rui Hachimura scored seven points in the opening quarter but no more for the rest of the game. Troy Brown Jr., starting at small forward, finished 0 for 6 with no points.
“The ball just didn’t go in, just plain and simple,” Beal said. “Just one of those nights for us.”
After so many games in which the Wizards have juiced up the scoreboard, the first half against the Kings (7-8) played out almost like a struggle. Neither team flirted with scoring 70 points before halftime, which had been practically a nightly occurrence in Wizards games. Both teams shot 44 percent in the half and attempted only a moderate number of three-pointers — 14 for Washington and 13 for Sacramento. The score was tied at 57 at halftime, but a disparate advantage appeared at the free throw line and persisted for the rest of the game.
Sacramento made 15 of 16 free throws in the first half on its way to making 24 of 28 overall. Washington connected on 8 of 9 in the first half and 9 of 12 overall.
The imbalance came as no surprise: The Wizards rank 29th in the league in drawing free throw attempts.
“I’m not going to say nothing about the refs,” Beal said. “It just is what it is.”
Brooks was more expressive.
“I thought D.B. got fouled on his landing,” Brooks said, bringing up a three-point attempt by Bertans. “I thought Isaiah got fouled on his landing, but you know, I won’t know about it. I don’t read the two-minute report. But they didn’t call it. They said he kicked his leg, but I saw it. I saw the replay and it was a foul, but you don’t get them all.
“Unfortunately, those are big,” Brooks concluded. “Those are six free throws.”
The Wizards never received those potential foul shots, but they wasted other opportunities. Washington went nearly three minutes in one fourth-quarter stretch without making a shot.
Barnes led all scorers with 26 points, Bogdanovic finished with 21 points off the Kings’ bench, and the Wizards left for a four-game road trip on a losing note.
The loss snapped the Wizards’ two-game winning streak and prevented them from matching their longest streak from last season.
Read more on the Washington Wizards: