Their record may be 0-8, but the effort the Washington Wizards have displayed in their last few games shows grit, determination and fight, if nothing else.

The Wizards dropped another two games, and continue to search for points in the absences of stars John Wall and Nene. The pair is scheduled to return soon, and look to turn around a losing record fueled by near-misses.

Nov. 14: Dallas 107, Washington 101

The Mavericks used a 40-26 second quarter to open up a double-digit lead against a depleted Wizards club. Dallas led by 18 points at halftime, but Washington rallied back in the fourth quarter with a dizzying 34-22 run despite the fact that none of their starters saw any significant action until late in the game.

Behind backups Kevin Seraphin, Cartier Martin and Jordan Crawford, Washington cut the lead to 101-98 with two minutes left to play but a potential game-tying three-pointer didn’t fall and Dallas held on for their fifth win of the season.

“Our record doesn’t show how great of a group we are,” Martin, who scored 14 points off the bench, told reporters after the game. “Everybody on this team can play. We’re struggling right now, but we’re going to continue to fight. We’re not going to give up.”

Seraphin and Crawford led Washington in scoring with 16 points and 21 points, respectively. Rookie guard Bradley Beal’s 3-of-14 shooting effort characterized the performance of Washington’s starters, who combined for a lowly 38 points before head coach Randy Wittman decided to go strictly to his reserves.

Nov. 17: Utah 83, Washington 75

Most NBA teams have been going small over the last few seasons and using guards to rev up the tempo, the Utah Jazz have gone big, using their forwards to attack on the offensive half of the court and punish the glass.

The Wizards found out first hand just how devastating Utah’s three-forward lineup can be, as the Jazz claimed a 60-44 edge in rebounds at the Verizon Center. The Wizards stayed close throughout the game, but never got over the hump as Utah calmed every Washington run despite a loud crowd desperately trying to push the home team to their first win of the season.

The absences of Wall and Nene once again surfaced to hurt the Wizards when it mattered most. The home team could only muster 13 points in the final quarter while Utah’s trio of bigs in Al Jefferson (21 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks), Derrick Favors (9 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks) and Paul Millsap (10 rebounds) combined to haul in nine critical offensive rebounds in the final quarter.

Crawford led the Wizards with 20 points and eight assists, representing part of the lineup change Wittman implemented before tipoff. Crawford and forward Jan Vesely replaced Trevor Booker and the struggling Beal as starters. Emeka Okafor recorded eight points, 13 rebounds and three blocks while Trevor Ariza poured in 16 points to go with eight rebounds and three steals.

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO