No matter the excuses for why the Wizards have been up and down all season, it doesn't matter. They're almost at the midway point and are starting to run out of time with their third meeting with the Toronto Raptors on Friday at Verizon Center (CSN, CSNmidatlantic.com and NBC Sports Live Extra, 6:30 p.m. ET).
"I'm starting to feel (anxiousness) right now. If we're not going to start winning games, we're going to dig a big hole and it'll be tough for us to come out of that hole," said Marcin Gortat, who has posted double-doubles in four of his last five games and is averaging 13.5 points and 9.7 rebounds. "You got to continue to play hard. We got to do whatever it takes to win games."
The Wizards (15-18) have lost two games in a row and twice in close calls with the Raptors this season, 84-82 and 94-91, a team they swept in the first round of last season's playoffs.
On Wednesday, they played well enough offensively to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers but fell 121-115.
"We got to think about playing better defense, one-on-one defense, take more pride in what we do," Gortat said. "We just didn't play well. They made a lot of tough shots."
The Wizards are starting to get bodies back in the fold, with Nene and Gary Neal returning. Drew Gooden is expected to play Friday while Kris Humphries (right knee) hasn't practiced.
"It was encouraging to have a full warmup line for the first time in a month. Nene came back but he's still not 100 percent ready yet," Gortat said of his backup. "He played good but he still can do better. Gary made some shots. It's obviously going to open up a lot of things for us.
"I"m just anxious about this whole situation. We are playing better. We are playing tougher but we had times where we had seven, eight available players. To win games we pretty much need everybody to play great. We don't have crazy talent in this locker room where we can show up and play 50 percent. Each one of us has to play 100 percent to win those games. Having the six, seven players out, it wasn't an easy situation. ... We're constantly thinking, 'OK, other guys are going to come back, we're going to play better.' No. We have to play better right now."
In his first season in Washington, the injury season has been overwhelming for Neal. He has missed time with soreness in his lower back, hamstring and now his right thigh. He returned to score 13 against Cleveland.
"We hope we can get everybody back. ... We're missing Brad (Beal), our leading scorer, our best scorer, that's a lot to replace," Neal said of the starting shooting guard, who has been out since Dec. 9 with a stress reaction in his lower right leg. "Everybody has to play at the top of their game to fill in for Brad. Nene, then you got Hump and Drew, these are all guys that are expected to play key roles and key minutes on a team. Everybody's doing the best they can do trying to fill in."
Neal isn't reaching panic mode like Gortat yet. More than half of the season is left and having been on an elite team like the San Antonio Spurs, Neal knows how things can change quickly. The Spurs were the No. 1 seed in the West in 2011. They were bumped in the first round by the No. 8 seed Memphis Grizzlies.
"When you're on a team it's about how you're playing, not what your record is. At this point, w'ere not playing our best basketball," Neal said. "That's what it's about. If you're the No. 1 seed going into the playoffs not playing good basketball, you know the records don't mean anything. It's about getting everybody healthy and getting back to playing good basketball."