Wizards have habit of losing third-quarter leads

Wizards have habit of losing third-quarter leads
December 17, 2013, 11:30 pm
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Bradley Beal relives his game-winning shot

(Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports)

NEW YORK -- There's a pattern to how the Wizards play, win or lose, and it is an unsettling one. They're always blowing double-digit leads. Monday's 102-101 victory at the New York Knicks was exciting for them because it ended a four-game losing streak, but it shouldn't have come down to Bradley Beal's game-winning shot. 

"You can't let a team go on a 12-2 run in two minutes. You work for 10 minutes to get a 15-point lead and in two minutes its gone," coach Randy Wittman said. "The first half, we were really careless with the ball. We were up 11 (at halftime).

"As I try to get these guys to realize this, I think they think I'm crazy sometimes when we have 14 turnovers at half time and we're up 11. What could it be if we took care of the ball? Those things, they look at, 'Coach we're up.' But we could've been up 20."

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In a 75-74 loss to the Denver Nuggets last week, the Wizards led by 12 in the third quarter. In a 103-96 overtime loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Wizards led by 15 points midway through the second quarter, blew it, led by seven late in the third and lost that, too. 

"That's one thing we've got to better job of, just keeping leads. In the third quarter we usually win or lose games," said point guard John Wall, who has 13 turnovers in the last two games. "We fight back, get the lead or we give it up."

This habit doesn't allow Wittman to rest his key starters, such as Beal who developed a stress reaction in his right leg for the second time in eight months. That also means rookies such as Otto Porter and Glen Rice, the latter now has a right wrist injury and isn't available, aren't able to get minutes at the end of games to get experience.