It was a busy week for the Washington Wizards, who returned from the NBA All-Star break facing four games in five days as well as the NBA trade deadline. While the break provided the Wizards with some much-needed hope, reality set in as Washington endured another losing streak before making a move to acquire some extra firepower and a future draft pick.
Teams usually emerge from the All-Star break fresh, reinvigorated and eager to finish the season strong, but apparently Washington didn’t get the memo. Back-to-back games on back-to-back nights resulted in back-to-back blowouts for the young Wizards.
A Feb. 22 home game against the Indiana Pacers resulted into a 113-96 shellacking and a Feb. 23 road trip to visit the Philadelphia 76ers wasn’t any prettier, as Washington fell, 117-94. Washington outscored both opponents in the first quarter only to succumb to huge runs by the other teams in the second and third quarters.
Indiana used the two middle quarters to outscore Washington 65-38 while Philadelphia exploded for 64-33 burst in the same quarters to effectively end the game early against the road-challenged Wizards. After posting consecutive double-doubles in the losing efforts, the reoccurring themes of lack of effort and defense finally cracked Wizards rookie point guard John Wall.
“Until we find five guys that really want to fight, compete and care the whole time, it’s really going to be tough,” Wall told reporters as he sat at his dressing area following Washington’s loss to Philadelphia..
While his calling out of his teammates in the press received some backlash, Wall undoubtedly echoed the sentiments of a lot of Wizards’ faithful. And just hours after Wall made his statement; Washington forward Andray Blatche released a series of Twitter comments that landed him in hot water with head coach Flip Saunders.
Blatche allegedly challenged a few Twitter users to a fistfight following Washington’s next game when he reportedly tweeted “ok let’s do this so everyone can see wat u bout let’s meet n dc saturday after my game.”
After a few other alarming tweets, Blatche claimed that his account was hacked and he was not responsible for the postings. Whatever Blatche’s reasoning, Saunders didn’t dress him for the Wizards next game against the Miami Heat on Feb. 25, as Washington welcomed in some new additions. Washington and Atlanta made a trade the night before, swapping point guards Kirk Hinrich and Mike Bibby, respectively, while Washington also received Maurice Evans, Jordan Crawford and a first round draft pick in 2011.
The deal was a good one for the Wizards considering Crawford is just 22 years old, and the draft pick fit in with the Wizards’ rebuilding plan. But the moves didn’t help them earn their second road win of the season as they fell to Miami, 121-113. The Heat’s Dwyane Wade sizzled for 41 points while LeBron James added 25 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and three blocks. But the Wizards kept it close for much of the game, courtesy of Nick Young’s 38 points and Wall’s 24 points and 12 assists.
Their effort against Miami continued with a strong home showing against Dallas on Feb. 26. The game came down to the final moments but Dallas was able to escape with a 105-99 victory despite 24 points from Wall and nine other Wizards scoring at least one basket. Blatche missed his second game with what the team called a strained hip, but other reports suggest his absence may be related to his Twitter escapade.
The loss to Dallas was Washington’s fifth-straight defeat, dropping the team to 15-43 this season. Washington will return to action Feb. 28 at home against the Chicago Bulls.