NEW YORK -- Just when it seemed defensively the Wizards were on to something, even thought it was the New York Knicks, they came unglued in the second half. While they won 111-108, by no means can it be assumed that they've turned any corners going into tonight's game at the Milwaukee Bucks.
It's just the opposite.
“It’s probably just mental. We all have to look at ourselves individually," said Bradley Beal about blowing a 13-point halftime lead that was cut almost in half just 48 seconds into the third quarter. "We got to get ourselves going. We got off to a great start in the first quarter. We have to figure out how to get that same energy, that same momentum going into the third quarter. We got to figure it out.”
This isn't about the style of offense for the Wizards (23-27) or injuries (Nene, Kris Humphries are back and Beal is starting again). They even had a 10-point lead with 1:51 left in the game and allowed that to be trimmed to one.
"In the second half we can’t become reluctant. We missed a couple shots and now nobody wants to pull the trigger," coach Randy Wittman said. "We’ve got to get out of that. I want to tell guys to stop shooting. We got good shots, we got to take them. In the third quarter there we missed a couple easy ones and then we passed up the next four or five shots and then the shot we took was pretty good. That gets them back in the game.”
The Wizards began the third 1-for-5 and by the time Beal hit consecutive three-point shots it wasn't enough to keep separation because New York was 8-for-12 shooting, half of them from three-point range.
“First half we played aggressive. We were into the ball," said John Wall, who held Jose Calderon scoreless. "We took their flow away. But in the second half, we didn’t take their flow away. When we don’t take flow away, they get movement and do whatever they want and that’s how they got back in the game.
"When we don’t make shots to start the third and the other teams start making shots our defense drops. Our pressure drops. We got to find a way to get out of that because you’re not going to make shots the whole game."
Games the Wizards have lost because of second-half droughts:
- 101-87 at Charlotte Hornets on Nov. 25: Led 85-76 with less than five minutes remaining but shot 0 for 17 from the field with three turnovers in their final 19 possessions.
- 84-82 vs. Toronto Raptors on Nov. 28: Led 68-60 with 32 seconds left in the third quarter, lost on a buzzer-beating shot. Washington failed to make a field goal in the final 4:24.
- 107-105 at New Orleans Pelicans on Dec. 11: Led 86-77 with 10:04 left after a three-point shot by Jared Dudley. Just 1:08 later, that lead was down to two points.
- 119-117 vs. Boston Celtics on Jan. 16: Led 53-42 with 2:44 left before halftime. Less than four minutes into the third quarter, the lead had been lost.
- 108-104 at Charlotte Hornets on Feb. 6: Led 55-36 with 2:29 left before halftime. That was cut to 10 at the break and it was completely erased by 3:50 of the third quarter.
Turn these games into wins and they're over .500 going into the All-Star break which begins after Thursday's game and the tone of the season looks totally different.