The Washington Wizards have had the opportunity to go over .500 six times this season—and they’re 0-6 in those games.
Maybe it’s nerves, maybe it’s a lack of focus, or maybe it’s some mystical power that’s keeping the team from earning a winning record for the first time since October 2009, when Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler were still in uniform. Whatever the reason, the Wizards (21-22) have the record to match their up-and-down play this season. Currently in the middle of a four-game West Coast swing, Washington still has a chance to return home with more wins than losses, despite squandering yet another chance at that distinction last week.
Mon. Jan. 20: Wizards Survive Big Game from MCW, 107-99
Philadelphia 76ers rookie Michael Carter-Williams scored a game-high 31 points, but his team could not complete a late-game comeback in a 107-99 Wizards win on Jan. 20.
Washington led all night, and even pushed the lead to 21 points in the final period before the 76ers cut it to 10 points with less than five minutes remaining. Wizards coach Randy Wittman was forced to bring Bradley Beal (22 points, nine rebounds and eight assists) and the rest of his starters back in to ice the game. Marcin Gortat chipped in 19 points and 11 rebounds, and reserve big man Kevin Seraphin had 16 points and seven rebounds off the bench.
Wed. Jan. 22: Celtics Silence Wiz in OT, 113-111
With a chance to go over .500 at home against the struggling Boston Celtics, who were 14-29 entering the game, Washington put up arguably their worst first half of the season as Boston built a large lead en route to a 113-111 overtime win at the Verizon Center.
Very little went right for the home team, while everything went in favor of the visiting Celtics. Playing without Rajon Rondo, who had returned the previous week from a torn ACL, former Georgetown Hoya Jeff Green shouldered the load for Boston, scoring 39 points with eight 3-pointers. Even reserve point guard Phil Pressey had his best game of the season, scoring 20 points and hitting five 3-pointers.
A triple double from John Wall (28 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists) helped Washington storm back from the early deficit, but the Wizards just didn’t have enough to close out the game. With Washington leading by three and only seconds left on the clock, Green hit an improbable off-balance 3-pointer to send the game into overtime. The shot zapped the life out of the arena and, by the time overtime tipped off, it was clear the game was going to be another disappointing effort in the team’s quest to get over .500.
Fri. Jan. 24: Wizards Bounce Back with Impressive 101-95 Win over Phoenix
Washington bounced back two days later with a 101-95 road win over the surging Phoenix Suns. It was a surprising win for the Wizards, considering the Suns had earned a blowout victory over the league-leading Indiana Pacers a few nights earlier. But none of that mattered for Washington, who were led by 18 points and 12 assists from Wall and 23 points, seven rebounds and four steals from Trevor Ariza. Beal hit a 3-pointer and a mid-range jump shot with under two minutes left to seal the win for the Wizards.
Sat. Jan. 25: Utah’s Kanter Makes Impact Against Washington
The Wizards had still another chance to go over .500 if not for Utah Jazz center Enes Kanter, who put on a clinic in a 104-101 win over Washington in Salt Lake City.
Kanter came off the bench to make 11 of his 13 shots for a game-high 24 points. No other player for Utah scored more than 16 points. Washington didn’t get the typical effort from Wall, who made just 4-of-14 shots for 13 points and only four assists.
Sandwiched between their struggles this week, rumors surfaced about Washington’s plans for next season. NBA insiders were tipped off about the Wizards’ intent to make resigning Gortat a priority, but perhaps the biggest news was that the Wizards will reportedly pursue Detroit Pistons center/forward Greg Monroe in attempt to pair him with Wall and Beal.
A former Hoya, the 23-year-old Monroe has been lost in the Pistons’ shuffle this year as the team tries to fit the newly-acquired Josh Smith with Andre Drummond, their sophomore center who has made great strides this year. Monroe will enter restricted free agency this summer, giving Detroit a chance to resign him, but the league-wide expectation at this point is that Monroe will be suiting up for another team next fall. The fourth year big man has career averages of 13.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.