WASHINGTON - Adversity is nothing new for the Washington Wizards. They’ve seen their share of trials this season. They haven’t always passed through their trials with flying colors, but they’ve managed to get through them well enough to be the third-best team in the Eastern Conference.
But in Sunday’s 102-92 loss against the Utah Jazz, things were different. Frustrations boiled over onto the court. In their seemingly everlasting quest for respect league wide, the team seemed to lose sight of the main objective — winning the game.
John Wall and Markieff Morris were both assessed technical fouls during the game after not having certain foul calls go their way. Wall was bumped in transition, didn’t receive a call and shouted at officials. Morris, during the Wizards’ fourth quarter comeback, was called for an offensive foul and flicked the ball away from the officials. He was assessed a technical, he was ejected from the game.
Did the Wizards have a legitimate gripe? Maybe. The Jazz attempted 17 more free throws than the Wizards even though Washington made multiple drives to the basket.
Bradley Beal was called for three quick foul calls, including one where Rudy Gobert fell on top of him. The fouls limited Beal 11 minutes of playing time in the first half. Gobert finished with 14 free throws on the game. Washington, as a whole, only had 13. The Jazz finished with 32.
The Wizards have never felt respected by league officials, and the result of Sunday’s game won’t change that.
“They didn’t make the calls so I’ll leave it at that,” Wall said. “It’s frustrating. You keep attacking the basket, no name guys are getting calls on the other end getting a little contact. You drive to the basket, and attack the whole game and they try to make up for those calls at the end of the game. It gets frustrating.”
Frustration has been evident in the Wizards’ last two games with losses against the lowly Philadelphia 76ers and the Jazz. They were thoroughly outperformed in each game.
On Sunday, that frustration boiled over and affected their play. The Wizards did things right, but got no results. They won the turnover battle, but only scored 16 points off of 25 turnovers. Meanwhile, the Jazz destroyed them 52-27 on the glass, scored 31 points off of the Wizards’ 15 turnovers, shot 42 percent from three and had 11 total blocks in the game.
The Jazz were better. They held the Wizards’ normally potent offense to just 15 points in the second quarter. They held them under 100 points for the game. They deserved to win.
Still, the Wizards managed to cut the lead to six with less than two minutes to go in the game. They gave themselves a shot, but couldn’t pull through because of prior mistakes. The officials didn’t do them any favors, but they also didn’t do anything for themselves.
At certain points, Beal said, it seemed that the Wizards were more concerned with getting foul calls on the offensive end rather than just playing basketball.
“We haven’t been getting calls all year. We’ve just got to fight through it. We’ve got to continue to play,” Beal said.
Despite being ejected, Morris said the Wizards cannot keep worrying about officiating. The officials have to do their job to the best of their ability just as the team has to play to their best ability.
“We had a bad game, they had a bad game. We came out with the loss, we’re just seeing the consequences,” Morris said. “This game, they just beat our [behinds]. It happens.
Aside from a late run, Scott Brooks said, the Wizards never gave themselves a chance to win the game. They were beaten on the glass in ways that he has not seen, he said, and were not “physical” enough. “This was not Wizards basketball,” he said. “We’re going to have to get back to what we’ve done.”
In the grand scheme, this loss may be nothing. The Wizards are holding onto third place by a thread over the Toronto Raptors, who have won three straight games. But the last two games show that despite being 18-3 going into the All-Star break, nothing can be taken for granted at this point.