This isn't exactly what coach Randy Wittman had in mind when he said he wanted his team to play better defense. His team waited until more than two quarters elapsed, put on a full-court press with a small lineup but it was too late. The Wizards (36-35) lost for the sixth time in nine games Wednesday in front of 18,805 at Verizon Center.
John Wall, who only had five points in the first half, sparked a comeback with Andre Miller, Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza and Drew Gooden on the floor.
After a three-point play by Wall cut the deficit to 83-79 with 8:16 left in the game, a few empty possessions led to three-pointers by Gerald Green and Goran Dragic for the Suns (43-29).
Wall finished with a game-high 29 points on 10-for-22 shooting and six assists. Marcin Gortat had 17 points and Trevor Ariza 14.
Phoenix's lethal backcourt of Dragic and Eric Bledsoe combined for 48 points on 19-for-35 shooting and 13 assists.
With the Charlotte Bobcats (35-37) upsetting the Brooklyn Nets (37-33) in overtime Wednesday, the Wizards are just 1.5 games from slipping to the No. 7 seed in the East.
Turning point: Trailing 75-50 and listless in the third quarter, the Wizards went on a 26-6 run to trim the deficit to 81-76 with 9:16 left in fourth. Wall took over the game with a series of drives to get the Wizards to 93-90 with 90 seconds left but Bledsoe's three-pointer late in the shot clock ended all hope.
Key stats: Phoenix made 14 of 28 three-pointers, making eight more than Washington and erasing its 52-34 points-in-the-paint advantage and 25-7 edge in fast-break points
Hip check: Beal went down late in the second quarter on a loose ball and injured his right hip when Marcus Morris landed on him. He soon left the floor because of what the team called a hip pointer with eight points on 3-for-6 shooting. He didn't start the third quarter but came out of the locker room eventually and re-entered at 6:21 but wasn't effective shooting. He went 0-for-5 but said he was OK after the game and doesn't expect to miss time.
Century mark: Wall made a pair of three-pointers in the third quarter, the second of which rimmed in, to put him at 100 made for the season. His high had been 34 made as a rookie in 2010-11.
From the locker room: "No intensity. We were just kind of here and ran up and down the floor." -- Wittman
"I truly don't know. I don't know. I don't have an explanation for that. I truly don't know what to tell you." -- Gortat on the Wizards' slow start
"They came out and basically got whatever they wanted. They just started hitting threes and fast-break layups and we got into an offensive slump. If you're not making shots, you have to play defense." -- Wall
"Our energy is drained a little bit. I don't think we are moving the ball on offense." -- Beal
"He brought his team back. He gave his team a chance to win, but he just did not pull it out. We had those battles all the time when we were in college and when I was with the Clippers so I pretty much knew what was coming." -- Bledsoe on ex-Kentucky teammate Wall.
"He's so fast and it was really tough to stay in front of him. We tried to let him shoot more than penetrate, but when you make a turnover or they get a rebound then it's really tough to stop him. He showed it. He's an All-Star. He played great." -- Dragic
Up next: The Wizards will practice Thursday and shoot around Friday morning before play later against the Indiana Pacers (CSN, 7 p.m. ET).