WASHINGTON - In a season where nothing has gone according to plan, things took yet another unexpected turn last night.
After snapping a 16-game losing streak in a win against the Hornets, Wizards players were admonished by coaches and general manager Ernie Grunfeld for winning what Grunfeld described as a "meaningless" game, according to sources close to the situation.
Sources say Grunfeld and head coach Flip Saunders were hoping to make history by going an entire month without winning, as well as potentially break the NBA record for most consecutive losses in a row. However, the Wizards' players, spurred by a pregame pep talk from injured star Josh Howard, decided to go for the win.
"[Howard] told them they still had a shot at the playoffs, so they decided to try harder to win the game," a source said. "Most of them probably won't be here next year anyway, so they're not concerned about making history or helping our lottery chances."
In an interview after the game, Saunders confirmed that he and the coaching staff were disappointed that the Wizards won the game.
"In my fifteen years of coaching, I've never seen anything like it," Saunders said. "I'm more disappointed in my team than I've ever been with a team in my coaching career. I've coached in the CBA, so I thought I had seen it all, but clearly, I haven't."
Saunders said he had a talk with Howard after the game, and tried to explain to Howard that the Wizards were mathematically eliminated from the playoff chase. Howard, however, was adamant that since the Wizards were just 15 games behind the Raptors for the eighth playoff spot, they still had a chance to get there. In response, Saunders reportedly said to him, "Playoffs? We're talking about playoffs?"
"It was a miscommunication," Saunders said. "But like I always said, don't anger the basketball gods. We could have started our playoff push earlier, but we didn't get it done. Now, they're punishing us by having us win when we are already eliminated from the playoffs."
"It's like I told the guys. Don't ever think it can get any worse, because it can," he added.
More on this story below the jump.
Oh, and just so we're clear, this in no way insinuates that the Wizards are intentionally losing games. I know they would never do something like that, which is why this is the subject of the joke. It's so farfetched that it's a perfect April Fools prank. I just wanted to clear that up in case anyone was confused.