clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

"Disgusting" performance in closing minutes costs Wizards in 103-101 loss to Pacers

After gritting their way to a 10 point lead in the fourth quarter, the Wizards couldn't find a stop to way the Pacers in the closing minutes.

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

"Disgusting. Very disgusting" was how Wizards Center Marcin Gortat characterized the locker room's feeling after the Wizards lost their fourth straight game.

And one could see his point. Those few players that stuck around didn't seem in the cheeriest of moods, and weren't in the mood to give explanations for the end of the game. Five players (including Bradley Beal) were out with injuries or personal duties and the usual conscientious objectors to media obligations had a built in excuse in the presence of the Argentinian National Team and it's transcendent star, Lionel Messi.

And what did the world's biggest soccer star and his compatriots see in their trip to the Verizon Center?

"The beautiful game" this was not.

With two of the least aesthetically appealing NBA offenses taking the court, the Verizon Center crowd lay witness to a plodding and unremarkable first quarter in which both teams struggled to put points on the board.

The only things that stood out on the Washington side in a 20-14 first quarter was significant only for the Wizards stifling defense and a nasty looking ankle injury suffered by Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal. After that Washington (and Indiana's) defense's softened and the game became a relatively high scoring for two teams not known for their offensive acumen.

Key to this offensive resurgence for Washington was the play of Marcin Gortat, and John Wall. Gortat and Wall combined for 20 points in the 3rd quarter as the Wizards expanded their lead to 6. Wall continued to press the Pacers defense, scoring 12 of the Wizards first 14 points of the 4th quarter, culminating with a 20 foot pull up jumper that gave the Wizards a 10 point lead and prompted a Pacers timeout.

While no lead seems to be ever safe with these Wizards, it appeared that Washington was in the driver's seat and would send Indiana home with their seventh straight loss.

As we know now, things fell apart. The same team that had nearly given up leads of 35, 25 and 25 in home games in the last month, had no problem disposing of a mere 10 point lead in 6:46 of play.

Randy Wittman after the game cited their defensive struggles as the source of their collapse.

"We're undisciplined. It was, what, 90-80 with six minutes and change left? We blew that lead because of our gambling and giving no effort defensively. We just quit playing defensively"

This choice of words is curious considering they came just one game after Maurice Speights said that if the Wizards were stopped a few times, that they would start bickering and quit. Speights's comments may have been a little over the top, the Wizards have certainly shown that they can play very well for one part of the game, and then practically disintegrate when the other team makes their run. Against Portland, Detroit and Miami, they were able to at least salvage wins despite losing big leads. Thursday, they didn't have a big enough lead to avoid losing it.

The Pacers basically ran a slightly congested layup line in the last 6 minutes, eventually giving them a 3 point lead with just 20 seconds left in the game. The Wizards play out of timeout didn't work, but John Wall improvised, calling for a high ball screen and nailing a 3 to tie the game with under 12 seconds left. This gave Wall a season high 34 points, including 17 in the 4th quarter alone.

What happened next we all know, and has been dissected here and at length elsewhere. As much as you can Wittman's strategy or Nene and Webster's execution on this play, the game should have never gotten to this point.

That games keep getting to this point with the Wizards consistently blowing leads or falling far behind, makes one wonder just what is going on with these Wizards. Sure, the roster beyond the starting five is a problem, the injuries don't help and the offense is not ideal, but the Wizards struggles the last few months go beyond that. The failures against Indiana just provide another example.

So while John Wall may have looked like an MVP out there, his team just wasn't enough to come up with the victory. It's something one guest in the audience knows something about.