Late night thoughts from the East Coast on the Wizards 95-94 loss at Sacramento Wednesday night...
After winning three straight at home with performances that showed resolve and late game heroics, the Wizards are still in the baby steps realm when it comes to going the distance on the road. Washington (7-29) led for a large chunk of the game against the Kings, 91-86 with 4:06 remaining and had go-ahead and game-winning opportunities inside the final 31 seconds. Yet rather than talking about a season-high fourth straight victory, we can only state that the Wizards missed chances late and fell to an NBA -worst 1-16 on the road including eight straight away from the Verizon Center.
“We beat ourselves there tonight," Wizards coach Randy Wittman told the media postgame. "I thought we put ourselves in position to win that and we walked away without it. It hurts.”
The loss stings for the obvious reasons, but also because it came on a night Bradley Beal drained 6 of 7 3-pointers and finished with a career-high 26 points. Playing in his third game since returning from a knee injury, John Wall shined throughout, finishing with 14 points and 10 assists in 26 minutes, all season-highs. However, the backcourt pair also failed on their last minutes chances to keep the good times rolling.
After DeMarcus Cousins muscled his way into scoring five points to tie the game at 91 and the teams traded 3-pointers, Wall erred on two free throws with 30.4 seconds. Tyreke Evans then split a pair of his own, putting the Kings up one point with 11.4 seconds left.
Beal, coming off a double pick along the baseline, received the subsequent inbounds pass on the right wing. The final second hero last week against Oklahoma City after hitting a one-handed floater, Beal drove inside the paint against the Kings' switching defense for a runner that missed.
“I was open at first because I set my man up," Beal told reporters. "Last minute they switched and I had [Kings forward] Chuck Hayes on me. As soon as he jumped out, he took kind of a bad angle and then he got into my body a little bit. I had to take a tougher shot than I wanted to."
The rebound kicked out to Wall beyond the foul line, but his follow-up attempt did not touch the rim. Perhaps contact on the play factored into drawing air, but no call was forthcoming.
“We had a lot of different options on that play," Wittman said. "Bradley took it to the hole and got them to switch out. Got an offensive rebound and we couldn’t complete.”
Cousins finished with 21 points and 16 rebounds for the Kings (15-24). Both Evans and John Salmons, who countered Martell Webster's late 3-pointer with one of his own, also scored 21 while Jimmer Fredette sparked Sacramento with all 12 of his points coming in the second half.
So, the Wizards do not make plays at the end of a game. Considering the myriad of ways this team has lost games this year, another defeat is hardly breaking news.
It's what happened throughout the game, especially offensively, that provides hope and shows the team did not leave its improved play back East.
Once again crisp ball movement and offensive execution existed. The Wizards dished out 32 assists, matching their season-high set Monday against Orlando, and did so on 39 baskets.
After six players scored in double figures against the Magic, five pulled off the trick against the Kings, including Kevin Seraphin with 16 points.
"Our effort was great," Wittman said. "We didn’t execute some things down the stretch that we normally do. This one hurts. There’s no question about it."
*With his confidence already popping after his recent stretch of strong performances, Beal set a Wizards rookie record with 3-pointers in the game. After ending 2012 by missing his final 17 three-point attempts, the rookie guard is shooting 61.1 percent (22 of 36) from beyond the arc in eight games this calendar year.
*After playing only 16 minutes against Orlando while dealing with affects from the flu, Nene finished with 15 points, nine rebounds and six assists in 29 minutes. Webster scored 10 points including a 3-pointer that briefly put Washington ahead 94-91 with 1:27 left. On the flip side, Trevor Ariza played a scoreless 21 minutes, missing all six of his shots and committing four of Washington's 18 turnovers.
*With Cousins leading the way for Sacramento, Washington surrendered 62 points in the paint. In their previous two games, the Wizards allowed a combined 68.
*Jordan Crawford (sore left ankle) missed a fourth straight game, Trevor Booker (ankle) his second.
*Wall finally lost a game and we're not just talking about this season. He also played during the Wizards' season-ending six-game winning streak last April. Including the first two games he played since returning this campaign, Wall had won eight straight.
*Game two of the five-game road swing takes place Friday at Denver. JaVale McGree and the Wizards, together again.