Wizards' Crawford sets bar high for season's final push

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Sports,NBA,Wizards,Craig Stouffer

Guard says he wants team to reach 20 wins

 

Jordan Crawford's team expectations for the last 13 games of the season aren't quite as lofty as his own personal goals. Last summer he said he wanted to be better than Michael Jordan.

For the Wizards (12-41), the second-year guard wants more than just the four victories that would definitively separate them from the worst win-loss percentage in franchise history.

"Well, I want to get to 20 wins," Crawford said, and he believes Washington is capable. "I mean, you know, we eight away. Thirteen games, you go 8-5 to end up. That's pretty good."

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Pacers at Wizards
When » Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Where » Verizon Center
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In fact, 20 wins would be remarkable for a team that has strung back-to-back victories together only once all year. It would be more than what the Wizards achieved during a full 82-game season in 2008-09, when they finished 19-63.

More realistically, a 16-50 final record this season would give Washington a .242 winning percentage. That would be enough to stay ahead of the .225 percentage set during the franchise's first year of existence as the 1961-62 Chicago Packers, who finished 18-62. A final mark of 15-51 would be equate to a .227 winning percentage.

"If that happens, it happens, but we're not looking at that," rookie forward Chris Singleton said. "We're just trying to get better as a team, and we're slowly doing that. I hope you all see the progression we're making."

But despite improved play on the court, including a nine-game stretch where opponents didn't score 100 points, the Wizards were officially eliminated from the playoff race last weekend.

For the staff, the end of the college season means the next stage of preparation for the NBA Draft is underway.

For young players, like Singleton, attention inevitably turns to the chance for a real offseason instead of last year's lockout. For others, the Wizards' final games become an extended audition.

"It definitely represents a glimpse for next year," said guard Roger Mason Jr., who is on a one-year contract. "You want to finish this year strong. You know that the positive momentum going into the season next year can be really good. We're a different team than when we started at the beginning of the year, and I think we want the wins to show that at the end."

Wizards coach Randy Wittman's future is also in question as he tries to keep his team together and focused on the strides they've made of late.

"That's how we want to go out, and let the chips fall where they may," Wittman said. "You want to go out with that competitive play that we've had. That's what we're trying to stress with them, and that helps leading into better things to come next year, especially for the young guys."

To point guard John Wall, failing to get to 15 or 16 wins and setting another record for futility wouldn't be different from what he's experienced since joining the team.

"I don't care about that," Wall said. "I'm just playing basketball, and things ain't been going our way for most of the year so we got a lot of games, 13 games, that's enough time to get those five wins if that's what people are worried about."

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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