Wake-up call: Wizards struggle getting over the hump

Wake-up call: Wizards struggle getting over the hump
January 2, 2014, 8:30 am
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Wizards endure tough shooting night

For the second time this season, the Wizards had a chance to get past .500 for the first time in John Wall's career. For the second time, they failed. At home. 

"We showed a lot of effort and fight on the defensive end. It was just one of those nights when you need that one big defensive stop when you’re not making shots down the stretch to win the game and we couldn’t find a way to get that," Wall, drafted No. 1 overall in 2010, said of the 87-78 loss to the Dallas Mavericks at Verizon Center on New Year's Day. 

The Wizards made only 33 of 88 shots. In a four-minute stretch to end the game, from 4:59 to the 17-second mark, they went without a field goal. Coach Randy Wittman has been trying to make sure his players don't put too much pressure on themselves, but the players know what being over .500 means for a franchise that hasn't been to the playoffs since 2008. 

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“We tried not to focus too much on it but it’s hard because it is going to be the first time in a long time for us," said Bradley Beal, who combined with Trevor Ariza in the starting lineup to shoot 7-or-27 from the field, including 3-for-12 on three-pointers. "It’s a great opportunity for us and we continue to get there. We just have to continue to do better and when we get back to .500, we have to be able to give ourselves that push to get over that hump.”

The Wizards have two more home games at Verizon before taking a three-game road trip. A victory Friday against the Toronto Raptors will put them in position for a third time.