Frustration mounting and young players struggling as losses continue to pile up
Just as the Wizards are showing signs of getting healthy, frustrations in the locker room are mounting and the team's youngest stars are struggling.
John Wall participated in dummy drills with Washington for the first time all season Thursday, one day after telling Yahoo! Sports he has targeted a return to the court in January.
Wall was joined on the bench Wednesday by rookie Bradley Beal, who sat out the entire fourth quarter of the Wizards' latest loss, an 87-84 defeat by Cleveland. For the second time in his young career, Beal missed all five of his shots from the field and matched his low for the season with two points, both on free throws.
|Magic at Wizards|
|When » Friday, 7 p.m.|
|Where » Verizon Center|
|TV » CSN|
Randy Wittman said the 19-year-old shooting guard needs to find ways to score when his jumper isn't falling.
"I was telling myself that, too," Beal said. "I just have to start getting to the basket more, but then I didn't end up going back in. I knew once my shot wasn't falling I should've been going to the basket, but I kept settling for jumpers."
The missing offense -- Beal (12.1 ppg) had scored in double figures in all but one game he had played in December -- had an acute effect as the Wizards (3-23) also started the game without leading scorer Jordan Crawford (15.5 ppg), who was demoted to a reserve role after reportedly arriving late for the morning shootaround.
Beal's silky shooting stroke hasn't yet turned into an efficient one that has merited special attention. He's fourth among rookies in scoring, but his shooting percentage (.355) is 29th among first-year players who have appeared in at least 15 games, and his 3-point percentage (.284) is 18th.
"Sometimes you've got to take what the defense is giving you," Beal said. "You can't just catch the ball and say, 'I'm going to the basket,' and bulldoze over somebody. ... The shots that I took I felt as though I was taking what they were giving me."
Kevin Seraphin's contributions also have fallen off. After averaging 11.5 points per game in November, he's down to 7.1 points in the last nine games, a stretch in which he also has been to the free throw line just five times. What bothered his coach even more was that against Cleveland, the 6-foot-9, 275-pound third-year center failed to grab a single rebound in 12 minutes.
"He's got to do other things," Wittman said. "It's not just about shooting the basketball. We got too many guys that worry just about shooting the basketball and not about the other parts of the game."
After the game, Seraphin pulled up a chair to the locker next to his, leaned in and listened intently to the advice of the player he has emulated, Nene. Having started the last two games, the veteran Brazilian big man's dissatisfaction with his teammates has grown steadily along with his minutes on the floor.
"I try to take the right shot, look to the right guy, and I play smart," Nene said shortly after his latest session with Seraphin. "I play to win. That's the way."