Dave Johnson: Wizards Road Skid Hits 13

Dave Johnson: Wizards Road Skid Hits 13
December 17, 2010, 2:59 am
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Thursday, December 16, 2010 9:51 p.m.

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By Dave Johnson
CSNwashington.comNewark, New Jersey -- The road remains a lost cause for the Wizards. A spirited second half rally was not enough for the Wizards to overcome a slow start and Devin Harris 29 points in a 97-89 loss to the Nets,The Nets were able to end their eight-game slide, while the Wizards dropped to 0-13 away from Verizon Center. In the first half the Wizards looked every bit like lost travelers as they stumbled to a 55-38 halftime deficit while shooting only 30 percent from the field."The disappointment comes from not competing and feeling sorry for ourselves because we are missing players, said Wizards head coach Flip Saunders. I told our guys that we cant keep making the same mistakes. Its not fair to the guys who really do care and arent making those mistakes. If you keep making mistakes in this league, you are going to get beat.Again sore knees sidelined John Wall and Andray Blatche and with Yi Jianlian now out with a sprained knee, the Wizards were forced into their 11th starting lineup in 24 games. Gilbert Arenas and Kirk Hinrich made up the backcourt with Trevor Booker, Al Thornton and JaVale McGee in the frontcourt.Before the game Saunders stressed the need for Hinrich and Arenas, as veteran scorers, to lead the way on offense. It didnt happen at first as Hinrich and Arenas combined to score only 2 points on 1 of 11 shooting from the field in the opening 24 minutes. Nick Young prevented a total Wizards collapse by scoring 15 of his team-high 22 points in the first half.Arenas and Hnrrichs poor start was part of a first half in which the Wizards were outplayed by the Nets. The Nets had the edge on the boards 25-17 and with Harris and Jordan Farmar sharing guard duties they ran on the Wizards to produce an early 14-2 advantage infast break points.The Wizards were losing in hustle categories, but then Arenas and Hinrich proceeded to take control of the game in the third quarter. For the game Arenas collected 19 points and 9 assists, while Hinrich recovered from a scoreless first half to finish with 10 points and 6 assists. Early in the third quarter McGee was able to draw a charge on Nets center Brook Lopez. For Lopez it was his fourth foul and forced him to the bench after a first half in which he scored 12 of his 18 points. Lopez absence also coincided with an increasedcommitment on defense by the Wizards that gave them a chance.With 5:39 remaining in the third quarter Hinrich came up with one of his game-high 4 steals and that led to a Gilbert Arenas 25-foot jump shot in transition to bring the Wizards to within 7 points at 64-57. Suddenly the Nets 23-point first half lead, their biggest lead in any game all season, was a distant memory.A driving layup by Al Thornton tied the game at 75 with 8:52 left in the fourth quarter and there was real sense of fear in the Prudential Center crowd of 10,764. The Wizards however, were never able to take the lead down the stretch and stalled after Arenas hit a 16-foot jumper to make it 88-87 with 1:47 remaining.The Nets closed the game on a 9-2 run and Arenas fouled out of the game with: 29 seconds left and the Wizards trailing by three points.