Wake-up call: 'Afraid' Wizards play with edge

Wake-up call: 'Afraid' Wizards play with edge
March 3, 2014, 6:00 am

Wizards top 5 plays of the week: 3-2

Washington Wizards point guard John Wall (2) celebrates with power forward Trevor Booker (35, right) after the game against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. The Wizards defeated the Warriors 88-85.

(Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

PHILADELPHIA -- There's a healthy fear in the locker room for the Wizards, and that's a good thing. Earlier in the season, when they were dropping games to terrible teams consistently -- and at home -- it led to a lot of turmoil. "A lot of players were really afraid of this game," said center Marcin Gortat, after they won their sixth game in a row at the Philadelphia 76ers. 

Not as in intimidated. As in taking an opponent for granted. It happened when Phil Pressey of the Boston Celtics scored a career-high 20 points and make 5 of 6 three-pointers for a team that had lost 11 of 12 games to start the new year. It happened twice in losses to the Cleveland Cavaliers who were in disarray. All happened at Verizon Center. 

Gortat has made on secret that he has been tired of getting "punked" on his home floor. Saturday, the Wizards (31-28) not only routed the 76ers 122-103 but did it on the road on a night that Allen Iverson's No. 3 jersey was being retired in front of a sellout crowd. Bradley Beal called it a playoff atmosphere.  

"I can say we're getting more mature because we're afraid of losing the easy game," Gortat said.

Coach Randy Wittman has questioned his team's desire and focus. They've had a tendency to play down to the opposition. The Sixers even beat the Wizards at Verizon Center to ruin the 2013-14 home-opener.

However, in this current streak the Wizards have won at the Atlanta Hawks, their first win at Phillips Arena in six years, and knocked off the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. It was their first win in four tries vs. the Raptors this season. Sixers rookie Michael Carter-Williams was contained. He only shot 5-for-14. 

"We were definitely ready for this game," Trevor Ariza said after scoring a career-high 40 points in Philadelphia. "Times before we would let a game like this slip through our hands and let them beat us, especially with all that was going on for their city. We were locked in."