Wake-up call: Wizards fold on final possessions

Wake-up call: Wizards fold on final possessions
December 14, 2013, 6:00 am
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Washington Wizards point guard John Wall (2) shoots the ball over Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Knight (11) in the third quarter at Verizon Center. The Bucks won 109-105 in overtime.

(Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Let's revisit a premise I talked about earlier this week: John Wall has problems finishing at the rim through contact, and the NBA's advanced statistics show it. But after Friday's overtime loss to the Atlanta Hawks -- when Wall could've won it in regulation -- he opted to stay out of the paint and took a low-percentage pull-up jumper.

The shot wasn't even close. With the score tied at 86, the Wizards went into the extra sessions where they were stunned by a buzzer-beating fading shot by Al Horford 101-99. The Wizards are 1-4 in overtime games this season. 

Granted, the Wizards are missing Bradley Beal and Nene, the latter being the centerpiece of most offensive sets. Nene's absence makes it easier for teams to key on Wall, but when it comes to late-game situations the Wizards lack an identity.

Just last week, Chris Singleton was on the floor vs. the Milwaukee Bucks with the score tied at 102 (Martell Webster would've been in that spot, but he sprained his left ankle in the first quarter). Wall drove into the paint, and Singleton was in one corner. Trevor Ariza, who shot 5-for-10 on threes in that game, was in the other.

The Bucks covered Ariza, the defense collapsed on Wall and he correctly found the open man: Singleton. Problem was, Singleton had shot 1-for-8 until that point. He was 1-for-9 after he took it. He ended the game 1-for-10.

With Webster back, Singleton didn't play against the Hawks. But regardless of who is on the court, closing out tight games remains a problem. The Wizards have lost three in a row by a total of seven points. 

It's the difference between being eighth in the East at 9-12, which is where they stand now, instead of third place at 12-9.