As Washington Wizards fans, we're unwilling experts when it comes to moral victories. Wednesday night's loss to the Sacramento Kings had plenty of the accepted hallmarks:
- Bradley Beal burned it up. 26 points and 6 assists off 14 shots and only 1 TO?
- Having John Wall back! Some struggles, but he gets a pass while he gets his legs back under him.
- This was a fourth quarter game.
- The loss is against another lottery-bound team, for those of you keeping an eye on the draft lottery.
Here's why the loss is not a moral victory:
- DeMarcus Cousins abused Kevin Seraphin, who put in another weak shooting performance while grabbing one rebound for every three Martell Webster grabbed while playing a touch more. And then there was that string of possessions in the fourth quarter, leading to the next problem.
- Ok, well, sort of a question: is Ernie Grunfeld capable of drafting an effective big man? We've seen him trade for Nene and Antawn Jamison, sure. It's hard to call this loss a moral victory while being reminded that our GM has yet to draft a bankable big man in 20+ years on the job.
- Last night likely put any lingering thoughts of a DMC trade package built around Keveen to bed. No matter how you feel about a possible swap, that was depressing.
- This was a fourth quarter game the Wizards had under control and lost like I was used to watching the Steve Nash-led Phoenix Suns lose. The win was earned, the offense sputtered and the defense wasn't up to the task. Rankings aside, it is hard to know what kind of defense the Wizards really have if they can't put the clamps down when adversity strikes on the opposite end.
- Losing to a lottery-bound team on the first game of a long West Coast road trip snapping your first three game winning streak of the season up by eight in the final frame is a momentum-killer. Bad for the locker-room.
- Oh, yes. And tired legs or not, the franchise missed two clutch free throws which proved to be the difference between victory and defeat with thirty seconds left in the game. Moral victory?
Young teams don't typically deal well with gut checks and the Wizards are in Denver tonight to face an angry Nuggets team that just got blown out by the Thunder. This is the kind of game that has 'moral victory' written all over it. If the Wizards are ready to carve out some identity and a little revenge against the universe at large with a tough win against a Western Conference playoff team, they can rinse the bad taste of Wednesday night's loss out of their mouths.
I hope owner Ted Leonsis is watching closely tonight; the character of tonight's effort should speak to the current state of the rebuild. A prospective win like this following a bad loss will bring some much-needed life into a dismal season and help fuel momentum for a stretch run. Another loss, another faux moral victory...and well, I'm sure that can and will be explained away.