Wizards lose another close one
Bobcats 94, Wizards 92
How would you view the Wizards if Antawn Jamison's last-second, underhand scoop shot had dropped in Charlotte on Tuesday night? If Caron Butler's hijacked final play against Dallas had ended with him making that shot over Shawn Marion? If Gilbert Arenas had made those two free throws in overtime against Indiana? Or he had been able to zip around Sacramento's Tyreke Evans instead of losing his dribble?
The Wizards are 6-13 in games decided by five points or fewer, but where would they be if those results were reversed? If the Wizards were 24-26 right now instead of 17-33 heading into the all-star break, would you consider them a resilient bunch that was able to withstand a season filled with tragedy and tumult?
Maybe. But it doesn't matter. The fact remains that as close as the Wizards have come to having a better record, they rarely have been able to produce in the clutch. That is a clear example of what has plagued this team through the first half of the season. They simply cannot close.
"A lot of times what happens, it hurts not having a go-to guy like Gilbert," Coach Flip Saunders said after the Wizards lost 94-92 to Charlotte after Raymond Felton made a fallawy jumper with 1.9 seconds remaining.
The Wizards had Arenas through the first 32 games, but they were just 3-10 in games decided by five or fewer points. Of course, Arenas wasn't fully healthy at the start of the season, which led to so many difficult losses. If you can point to the time of the year where the Wizards' season broke for the worse, it came in early December, when they lost, 109-107, in overtime to Toronto as Arenas missed a point-blank layup. Before that game, the Wizards had won four out of five and improved to 7-10. But that loss set of a string of six consecutive losses by a combined 14 points.
"It's disappointing because those are the games at the end of the season that haunt you," Brendan Haywood said. "We've had 13 close games that we've lost. If you even split those, you're in the playoffs. It's disappointing because these are the games that we need to win, but losing them is keeping us out of contention for the eighth seed in the East."
Add those tough losses to a season that has already seen Abe Pollin die and Arenas suspended for the final 50 games and you have a team that is sorely in need of a break. "It'll be good to get away and just do things with our family and children and come back with a clear head," DeShawn Stevenson said. "A lot people been through a lot of stuff this season. It's going to be a good chance to get away from it."
Since nothing ever goes smoothly for the Wizards, they weren't even able to make it out of Charlotte on Tuesday, with the team plane grounded because of bad weather in the D.C. area. Most of the players and coaches made do and bought tickets to their respective homes out of Charlotte. It was ideal, but it was what they had to do.
The Wizards will have a full week off and won't practice until next Tuesday, then play a game on Wednesday against Minnesota. With 32 games left in the season, Mike Miller said the Wizards can't be concerned about being competitive or close.
"I only care about results," he said. "We got to be ready to play when we come back. We've got a lot of ground to make up."
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