Wizards prove to be repeat offenders, drop to 0-21 on the road
It's almost getting to the point where I could turn my road game stories into a regular game of Madlibs. The Wizards (led/were tied/trailed by a small margin) early in the fourth quarter before they went (random number) minutes without a field goal and insert team name responded with a backbreaking run. Opposing player name broke out of his slump to score a season-high (random number) points.
But while most of their fans may be growing tired of losing in similar fashion almost every road game, the Wizards don't seem to be concerned with changing course, because they never seem to have the confidence or fight needed to finish games away from home. And on Monday at Madison Square Garden, the Wizards did everything they could to help the New York Knicks end a six-game losing streak. They took quick shots, looked unfocused and committed 20 turnovers, which contributed to 24 points for the home team. And, they dropped to 0-21 away from home.
The Wizards are another step closer to matching the 1992-93 Dallas Mavericks, who own the record for the longest losing streak to open a season with 29. They only have 20 more shots to win away from Verizon Center, so that they won't be like the 1990-91 Sacramento Kings, who lost their final 37 road games to finish 1-40 on the road.
"I'm not going to lie about that. If you lose on the road, you're going to think about it. You watch 'SportsCenter,' you're going to see what everybody's talking about: you not winning road games. It gets tough," John Wall said. "But for us to get them to stop talking about it, we've got to do what we've got to do on the road and get one."
It's really amazing how the Wizards are unable to carryover their successes from home wins, but they always make the same mistakes on the road, no matter how far apart they are between road games. They beat Utah, then lose on the road to a Milwaukee team lacking Brandon Jennings, John Salmons and Carlos Delfino. They defeat the Boston Celtics -- c'mon, the Celtics -- and lose to a Knicks team that had lost six in a row.
Nick Young thought changing his hairstyle might help, but while he scored 22 points, his team didn't do anything different. Wall nearly had his second career triple-double with 18 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, but even his all-around efforts weren't enough.
Few expect the Wizards to be much more than a lottery team, but it shouldn't take this long for them to collect at least one road win. You'd figure they'd get at least one by accident. But they keep finding ways to make mistakes, including forgetting how to put on their clothes.
Kevin Seraphin is a rookie, but he's played enough games this season to know which direction his shorts should go on. But there he was taking off his shorts and turning them around on the bench in the second period, in one of the more awkward scenes you'll ever witness. His teammates had a good laugh over it, but there is little funny about this road mark, which continues to cloud anything else the Wizards may or may not accomplish.
"We don't care about the road record. We're trying to get a win," JaVale McGee said after scoring 15 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. "It just didn't work out."
For now, they will have to focus on the Denver Nuggets at home, before they embark on what will surely be a gruesome four-game trek through Oklahoma City, Memphis, Dallas and New Orleans. If the Wizards have any chance of changing their fortunes, they will have play more like they did in the second quarter, when Developmental League call up Mustafa Shakur engineered an incredible run, with McGee, Al Thornton, Trevor Booker and Rashard Lewis.
Knicks forward Wilson Chandler buried a three-pointer to give his team a 39-26 lead with 10:33 left in the second period when Saunders called on Shakur to spell Wall. And for the second game in a row, Shakur, signed to a 10-day contract last Saturday, responded and played so well that Wall wouldn't return for the rest of the half.
Thornton started a 23-6 run over the next five minutes with a 15-foot jumper. Booker helped out by converting a three-point play and later tossed a lob to McGee for a dunk. McGee had a rebound tip to bring tie the game at 45, then Booker had a driving layup to give the Wizards the lead, forcing Knicks Coach Mike D'Antoni to call a timeout. Shakur extended the lead to 49-45 when he hit a long jumper. He later gave the Wizards a 58-53 with another pull-up jumper.
"We played with heart," said Booker, who had seven points and five rebounds. "Sometimes in the game, the players weren't going hard. Second quarter, that group that was going in, played with a lot of energy and played with a lot of heart."
But despite providing a boost, the second unit was used sparingly in the second half, which was surprising given how poorly Andray Blatche had been playing. Thornton had scored 10 points in the first half, but wasn't called upon until it was too late, while Blatche had one of his more forgettable games of the season. Saunders said he was "terrible" and it was hard to dispute him, as Blatche finished with six points and five rebounds and appeared to be somewhere else the entire night.
Blatche's problems started early on as he took a few rushed jumpers and even shot a layup over the rim. He didn't seem to recover in the second half, at one point backing down Chandler in the post and decided to kick it out to McGee at the foul line, which is rarely a good idea. He had unforced errors, driving and dribbling the ball out of bounds and throwing the ball threw McGee's hands and toward the Wizards' bench.
Saunders wondered how his team could lack the energy to finish after most of his starters got plenty of rest during that second-quarter run, but added "they lost some of their purpose."
The Wizards might want to work a little harder to find it.
"Same story for us on the road," Blatche said. "I don't know. It's no more excuses. No more nothing. I don't know what to tell you. It's getting to the point where we can't even feel sorry for ourselves no more."
| January 25, 2011; 1:07 AM ET
Categories: Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee, Mustafa Shakur, Nick Young, Trevor Booker
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