The bad losses for the Wizards in a .500 season are too many to list. There was the inexplicable home defeat to the L.A. Lakers, blown fourth-quarter leads to the Charlotte Hornets and the dagger double OT loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. But the one that sticks out the most is March 5, a loss that was so troubling that it led Jared Dudley going into the office of then-coach Randy Wittman to have a sit down that didn't go well.
The Wizards lost 100-99 on a pair of game-winning free throws by Paul George. It was the second in a row of what would grow into a playoff-run killing five-game losing streak. The Wizards finished three games back of the 44-win Detroit Pistons for the eighth and final seed in the East.
"The big game that hurt the most was the game against Indiana at home, missing free throws at the end, we lose by a point at the end. I don’t think they missed a free throw," majority owner Ted Leonsis said. "If we win that game, we’re over .500, it was the last game before the road trip, we win the tiebreaker against Indiana….that’s one that really stuck with me."
The Pacers made 19 of 20 foul shots actually. The Wizards, who ended just 25th in accuracy for the regular season at 73%, shot just 15 of 24 and dropped to 30-32. The road trip that Leonsis was referencing was the infamous games at Portland, at Utah and at Denver. The latter two were disturbing in how lifeless the Wizards played, including giving up 41 points to the Nuggets' second and third units in a fourth-quarter comeback.
The Wizards had failed to get over .500 in that Indiana game after they were last at that benchmark when 6-5 in November. Only a three-game win streak with the playoffs already no longer a possibility allowed them to finish 41-41.
As Leonsis pointed out that defeat to Indiana cost them the tiebreaker by losing the season series 2-1. Dudley, who called the players-only meeting after a Jan. 28 loss to the Nuggets, took it upon himself to talk to Wittman about making changes to lineups and rotations that fell on deaf ears, two people with knowledge of the situation told CSNmidatlantic.com at that time.
Like the Wizards' locker room, their season -- though 20 games were left -- already was lost.
Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.
Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.
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The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message.
"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."
The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.
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Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.
Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.
Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one.
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Here are the five best plays or moments from the Wizards' 122-105 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night...
1. This was a tough one for the Wizards. For the third time this season, they got beaten by the Hornets and for the second straight time it was in a blowout.
They still had their moments, though, including this alley-oop from Tomas Satoransky (11 points) to Markieff Morris (13 points, eight assists, six rebounds). It was the second alley-oop connection for those two in as many games:
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2. This was a play that encapsulated the Wizards' night. Jodie Meeks drew a flagrant foul on Michael Carter-Williams, but took a hard shot to the head:
3. Kelly Oubre, Jr. had a solid game with 11 points, including this big dunk:
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4. Speaking of Oubre, he helped the Wizards close the first half with a late surge. The real highlight was Bradley Beal stealing the ball and hitting a corner three at the buzzer:
5. Beal ended up with 33 points, six assists and six rebounds. Here's an and-1 he got to go down in the second half:
All in all, it was an ugly performance for the Wizards. To cheer you up, we'll leave you with this young fan who had a great time at Capital One Arena despite the result:
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