The Wizards record wouldn't be quite as bad if they could close out games, right? Well, recently, the team hasn't really been in a position to win down the stretch.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In the locker room after the Wizards most recent loss -- the wrong side of a 99-92 outcome against the Hawks -- the postgame conversation centered as much on Al Thorton's highlight dunk on Zaza Pachulia as it did on Washington's losing effort.
It was the eighth straight defeat for the Wizards, who have lost 37 times in 50 tries season, including an 0-for-25 mark in road games. But some players kept loose in the locker room, messing with each other and reporters.
"Fifteen, 20," Hilton Armstrong deadpanned when Thornton was asked where his dunk ranked on his all-time list. "Do it all the time."
The Wizards are trying to stay positive. During an 82-game season, it's tough to stick with it while enduring so much losing.
One of the ways the Wizards have motivated themselves through the refrain that they've been in some close games that they haven't been able to convert into wins.
"I think the games we’ve lost have been in the last six minutes," Thornton said. "In terms of executing on offense, executing on defense -- that’s somewhere we have to get better at. That’s where we tend to lose focus."
But to what degree is that really the case? Using Thorton's six-minute benchmark, it seems that during this current eight-game skid, Washington has more often been out of the game late than faltering down the stretch in winnable situations.
|Date||Score With 6:00 Left|
|1/24||New York 101, Washington 97|
|1/25||Denver 107, Washington 95|
|1/28||Washington 87, Oklahoma City 86|
|1/29||Memphis 96, Washington 78|
|1/31||Dallas 91, Washington 83|
|2/1||New Orleans 87, Washington 77|
|2/4||Orlando 92, Washington 81|
|2/5||Atlanta 84, Washington 77|
In the last eight games, Washington has trailed by an average deficit of 8.6 points with six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Of course, eight games is a small sample in an 82-game season. But if Washington is talking about recent history, that does not look like a team that is simply failing to execute down the stretch.
Of those eight games, only once did the Wizards hold a lead in the last six minutes of regulation -- a one-point advantage in what would become a double-overtime loss to the Thunder.
The Wizards have pushed teams during this stretch, sure. They were within four points on the Knicks with six minutes remaining on Jan. 24, but that was as close as they got the rest of the way. Against Dallas, they were within five with less than two minutes to play when Tyson Chandler rebounded a Jason Kidd miss that appeared to hit the top of the backboard and found Kidd for a dagger three.
But in general the Wizards have not been in a position to win at the end of games.
Thornton and Rashard Lewis both talked about losing focus on Saturday. Little things like missed assignments and rotations that had been killing Washington during mental lapses late in games.
Maybe those are issues. But if the Wizards are going to start pulling out wins, they'll need to do a better job of putting themselves in a position to win.