WASHINGTON — Any of the good feelings that might have been mustered around the Washington Wizards after coming so close to garnering one of their impressive victories of the season was thrown out of the window in less than 24 hours time with one of their worst defeats.
Continuing their maddeningly inconsistent play against teams in the lower half of the NBA standings, the Wizards blew a six-point lead with just over four minutes remaining in losing at home to the Atlanta Hawks, 103-97, the team’s fourth consecutive loss and eighth defeat in their last 10 contests. The poor run of form has now seen Washington, who has clinched a playoff spot, slip into the No. 8 position in the Eastern Conference just a month after the team harbored realistic hopes of finishing in the top four and possibly having home court advantage in the first round.
Those hopes have extinguished, and, according to head coach Scott Brooks, the team’s ability to share the basketball has extinguished at the moment as well.
“It’s embarrassing that we don’t play with the passion that we need to play [with],” Brooks said during his postgame press conference. “Selfish basketball is no fun to coach, it’s no fun to play with, and it’s no fun to watch. We’re a selfish basketball team right now.”
Washington played the game without point guard John Wall, who was resting after playing in last night’s 119-115 defeat in Cleveland Cavaliers, as he has yet been cleared to play in back-to-back games. Despite that, the Wizards still were in a position to win the game before Atlanta finished the game on a 16-4 run.
“If we’re not going to share the basketball, you can’t just say ‘John’s not here’ and all of a sudden we’re going to be one-on-one players,” Brooks said. “John’s not here, John’s here, it doesn’t matter. We still got to play the right way. The game tells you to pass it to your open teammate. The game tells you to guard the ball. The game tells you to help your team, and we’re not doing that right now. It’s embarrassing.”
Washington also played the majority of the game without forward Markieff Morris, who picked up two technical fouls in succession in the first quarter and was ejected. Bradley Beal led all Wizards scorers with 32 points, but only two other Washington players scored in double figures: Kelly Oubre Jr. had 13 points off the bench and Otto Porter Jr. had 10 points.
In contrast, six players scored in double figures for the Hawks, led by the 23 from forward Taurean Prince. Off the bench, guard Tyler Dorsey had 22 points, including hitting four of his eight three-point attempts.