Wizards going out with a whimper

By |
Sports,NBA,Wizards,Craig Stouffer

Short-handed Washington struggling down the stretch

The Wizards' hopes of duplicating last year's six-game winning streak at the end the season have long since passed.

With the injury list continuing to grow and both of their remaining contests against playoff teams on the road -- where the Wizards have been abysmal all year long -- the chances are far greater that Washington could end the year on an equally long skid.

"We don't want to end the season on a six-game losing streak," guard A.J. Price said after the Wizards suffered their fourth loss in a row in Friday's home finale against the Philadelphia 76ers. "We just need to play with a sense of urgency, just play like we're playing for something these last two games and show that we're competitive, that we're going to compete."

Up next
Wizards at Nets
Where » Barclays Center,
Brooklyn, N.Y.
When » Monday, 7:30 p.m.
TV » CSN

On Sunday, veteran forward Nene told reporters he was sitting out Monday's visit to Brooklyn (47-33) and Wednesday's finale at Chicago (43-37) after battling plantar fasciitis and knee and shoulder soreness throughout the year. Forwards Martell Webster (abdominal strain) and Trevor Ariza (left knee) also have been shut down for the remainder of the year along with rookie Bradley Beal (right fibula stress injury).

The Wizards (29-51) played just 22 games with Nene, Beal and John Wall in the lineup together, going 15-7 with their three best players.

Nene, who will turn 31 in September, started his season late after extended duty with the Brazilian national team in the London Olympics. While he averaged 12.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game, his shooting percentage (.480) was his lowest of his career over a season in which he played more than 16 games. He has three years and $39 million remaining on his current contract.

Playing severely short-handed over the final two games of the year won't help coach Randy Wittman wipe road woes off the franchise's list of major offseason concerns.

"I think he's done all he can do," Price said. "It's not him. He's not playing the game. He's just preparing us for it. It's up to us as players to go out and produce."

Center Emeka Okafor wasn't worried that the late season struggles would linger over the summer.

"The offseason is just to let everything kind of settle in and just let everybody process what's happened," Okafor said. "I think we'll come back strong next year. I think getting to 30 is just a goal for us just to say we could do it."

Should the Wizards lose their final two games, they will conclude the year 24-25 with Wall in the lineup and fall short of when could be an encouraging 30-win benchmark.

"It's disappointing," Okafor said. "But big picture, I think that we've made strides, and despite not finishing as strong as we'd like to at the end, we have demonstrated that when fully healthy, we can meet our expectations."

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

View article comments Leave a comment
Author:

Craig Stouffer

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner