This was the chance for Washington to reach 30 wins. Facing an undermanned Nets team on the road with just two games remaining, much of the team displaying an unusually hot hand... the Wizards probably won't get this kind of opportunity Wednesday in the season finale against Chicago.
Instead, Washington wasted some good shooting and a miserable performance at the charity stripe by their opponents in a 106-101 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night.
For a team that usually struggles shooting from the field, a 53 percent shooting percentage against a team starting mostly back-ups would be a sure sign of victory. The Wizards couldn't shake their usual turnover issues, committing 20 turnovers that afforded Brooklyn numerous opportunities.
After one quarter, Washington appeared to be on its way to a blowout, carrying a 34-21 advantage into the second. The second quarter took the wind out of the Wizards' sails, though, as they dragged their feet to a 56-50 lead going into halftime.
The Wizards didn't have a single double-digit scorer in the first half despite the strong start. John Wall and Cartier Martin contributed nine points apiece as Washington spread the love around, with nobody taking more than six shots in the first 24 minutes.
The team could have used an unusually hot hand in the second half.
With Wall struggling to get jumpers to fall, the offense quickly lost momentum given the absence of perimeter shooters. With only Martin to stretch the defense, the Nets were able to focus on preventing easy baskets near the rim.
Washington was able to get some solid scoring performances from the likes of Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin, but the absence of any sort of go-to scorer beyond Wall in the final minutes proved costly with Brooklyn's defense clamping down.
Even though Brooklyn shot just 13 of 27 from the free throw line, Washington couldn't take advantage of the most basic of errors.
Getting a start at center, former Wizard Andray Blatche finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds in a mostly solid effort. He struggled with his shot at times, shooting 9 of 21 from the field and a grizzly 2 of 7 from the free throw line, but the four offensive rebounds gave him multiple easy opportunities for scores.
Kris Humphries also pitched in 20 points and nine rebounds for the Nets. With guys like Brook Lopez and Reggie Evans out, the Wizards should have fared better in the post Monday, but Brooklyn ended up with 20 offensive rebounds and the overall advantage on the boards.
Now the Wizards go into Wednesday's game against the Bulls with a 29-52 record. The race for 9th is long dead. Coming off a blowout win against the Magic and presumably eying that fifth seed in the East, don't expect Chicago to be as shorthanded as Brooklyn was Monday.
81 down, one to go. The end is nigh.