Something is amiss with the Wizards, losers of three of their last five games with just four left in the season. They've dropped to the seventh spot in the East, which means a first-round playoff matchup with the Indiana Pacers or Miami Heat. Coach Randy Wittman, when asked about his starting backcourt's listless performance most of the way in Wednesday's 94-88 overtime loss to the Charlotte Bobcats, dropped the hammer.
"When you don’t put effort in, you’re not going to have good showings. It just filters down," Wittman said of John Wall and Bradley Beal, who combined to shoot 10-for-33 as the Wizards fell behind by 20 points. "You can't play with no energy or effort at one end of the floor and expect to turn it on at the other end of the floor. Doesn’t work that way. That’s been proven with these guys. It was almost like we were spinning our wheels in mud. Just didn’t have the enthusiasm. I don’t know if we had a sweat broken at the jump ball is what it felt like."
Wait, this is supposed to be the backcourt of the future. Wall, a first-time All-Star, has his team heading to the playoffs for the first time. Beal is supposed to be a future All-Star with a USA Basketball invitation for the next Olympic cycle.
Marcin Gortat has been careful to parse his word choice since getting in hot water with Wittman -- as did Nene -- earlier in the season when there was locker-room tensions between the vets and the young guns. He was more definitive after posting 27 points on 13-for-18 shooting and 14 rebounds in a losing effort.
"Guess we're immature and just not experienced enough. Everything starts in the practices. First few minutes, we walk in just fooling around and this is how we've started games," Gortat said.
The Wizards (40-38) have dropped to the No. 7 seed in the East, behind Charlotte even though they have the same record. Charlotte won the season series 3-1 and hold the tiebreaker with four games left in each team's season. Wall had his second triple-double of the season with 14 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. But like the one he had vs. the Boston Celtics in January, this one happened in an overtime loss at Verizon, too. And it came in a game the Wizards trailed most of the way and were surprisingly sluggish to start. Wall's numbers look good on paper, but without the result they're hollow.
"Honestly, I don't care about standings. We have to play. The way we're playing right now we're not beating anybody, including Milwaukee," Gortat said. "It doesn't matter who we're going to play in the first round. If you play like this, you're not going to win games. Bottom line. I don't think that's the problem, seventh, eighth or sixth or whatever it's going to be."