As the saying goes, "things happen in 3's." Well, unfortunately for the Wiz Kids, blowing double digit leads at home in the 2nd half has happened in 3's.
There's really no polite or politically correct way to say this: The Wizards choked. I mean, flat out choked last night's game away. If I didn't hate the Cowboys as much as I did, I would say it was a bigger choke than anything Tony Romo has done, but let's be honest, nothing is that bad.
It was a sloppy game from the start. With 4 minutes left in the first half and both teams failing to eclipse the 30 point mark, it was evident that we were in for a long night.
Oh, by the way, the Wizards lost the game at the buzzer with .2 seconds left on the clock after Rodney Stuckey hits the game winning shot. With no timeouts left and the length of the court to go, their fate was already determined. With nothing but zero's left on the clock, The Wizards dropped their third straight home game when leading by double digits.
Entering their fifth game in six nights and the third in a row, Washington was noticeably tired. Guys weren't getting any lift on their jump shots, careless passing lead to horrendous turnovers, and as a result, we relied on Kevin Seraphin to give us the offensive boost.
Nothing good comes from relying on Kevin Seraphin to give you offensive boost.
The Pistons did their best to to help the Wizards look like the better team. They shot 37% from the field, committed 19 turnovers and were nearly doubled in the assist category. However, one thing i quickly realized was that when you have two teams playing with a combined record of 27-69, no one wins.
It almost seemed like nobody wanted to win the game. The energy and atmosphere in the Verizon Center was one of the dullest I've experienced all season long. If the fans didn't get the free chik-fil-a sandwich after Ben Wallace's two missed 4th quarter free throws, I'd be willing to say it was probably the worst professional basketball game I've watched in my 20+ years as an NBA fan.
It was that bad.
Despite the horrible shooting, bad turnovers and sloppy play, the Wizards controlled the game. The 3rd quarter which had been this team's kryptonite was actually the best quarter of basketball that either team played the entire game. The Wizards shot 60% from the field, they scored 27 points (after scoring 35 in the entire first half) and the team got a balanced attack from the starts and guys coming in off the bench. All those factors helped the Wizards build a 13 point lead and when the clock hit zero, Washington lead by 11 heading in to the 4th quarter.
Then came the 4th quarter. 3rd quarter woes were SO last week.
Washington scored only 15 points in the quarter and watched as the Pistons continued to chip away at the lead. Back and forth the two teams went and it came down to the last possession after John Wall missed a critical layup that would've put the Wizards up, then a foul Ben Wallace to stop the clock. Wallace, who helped the fans get that free Chik-Fil-A sandwich earlier in the game, hits one of his two free throws and puts the Pistons up 2. The Wizards tie the game with 5.8 seconds as Nene hits a hook shot in the low post and as unfortunate as it was, it looks like we were headed for overtime.
Rodney Stuckey didn't feel like playing any extra basketball.
As time ran down and given the Wizards recent history of blowing games, you could feel the uneasiness in the crowd. Once Stuckey put up his final jump shot, I could hear a couple fans around me say, "that's game…" Just like that, they were right. After the game, all anyone could talk about was how the team couldn't find ways to close games out.
"It was a carbon copy of the last two home games. We have to get to the point where we get a lead and we don't play just to play." -Randy Wittman.
This just seems like the same old song and dance with this team. You would think that after the Atlanta game, something would change. Someone needs to step up and be the leader. I think as Wizards fans we all want John Wall to be that leader, but I can't sit here and say that he's the reason this team lost any of these games. Obviously having a healthy Trevor Booker in the game helps you out a lot. His offensive production and energy was sorely missed out there. In a game where it seemed like no one on either team was really in the mood to play basketball, Trevor's presence, athleticism, and hustle was sorely missed. (Pun intended)
"…it is not just one guy that can come in and save the day, it has to be a team effort. It should be everyone collectively. We missed Trevor’s energy today but our other guys did step up" - Randy Wittman
Certain guys have stepped up and played well when other guys have went down but as Jordan Crawford said, "The most important thing is we have to find ways to win."
Crawford's usually been a mild mannered guy but you could see how noticeably upset he was after tonight's game. He didn't really seem to care about his sixth straight game with at least 20 or more points but was visibly disgusted with the team's inability to close down the stretch.
For the 11-38 Wizards, the end of this shortened, drama-filled season can't come any sooner. I think everyone just wants to hit the "restart" button on this season. As long as there are guys who feel that way on this team, I feel like learning how to win will come in due time.