The Wizards were served a vivid reminder of Otto Porter's absence at the worst of times on Saturday night, as Kelly Oubre, Jr. committed one of the more costly turnovers of the entire season in a key spot, one of several mistakes Washington made down the stretch of their 106-103 loss to the Miami Heat.
Summoned to start as Porter missed his first game of the season due to back spasms, Oubre was trusted to make an inbound pass with 11 seconds remaining. The Wizards were down 104-103 and coming out of a timeout, but the play coach Scott Brooks drew up didn't make it much further than the clipboard.
Oubre's pass to John Wall was intercepted in the open court by Heat guard Josh Richardson. Oubre was left slumping his shoulders as Richardson put the Heat up 106-103 with two free throws.
"I turned the ball over. Simple as that. Got to get better and learn from my mistakes," Oubre said.
Others also pointed to the play as one Oubre can learn from.
"Actually it is a learning experience," Brooks said. "Otto has been in that position just about every time this year. But that wasn't the reason why we lost the game."
So, what happened? Basically, it boiled down to a miscommunication between Oubre and Wall, perhaps a result of them not working together on similar plays as often as with Porter.
"It was just trying to get open and we couldn't really screen because they played the outside," Wall said. "Then when he was about to throw it, [Goran] Dragic... got in the passing lane."
The one positive for Oubre is that this happened in regular season Game 80 and not next weekend when the Wizards begin their first round playoff series.
"I'm growing. God puts things in your path to pretty much get over, so I'll get over and we'll be better," Oubre said. "It won't happen again."
It was right before Oubre's mistake that the Heat took the lead on a James Johnson layup right over Markieff Morris. And right after Oubre's turnover was a final possession that didn't go the way the Wizards planned.
Coming out of a timeout with nine seconds on the clock, Wall passed it in to Beal who drove to his right and worked a switch through a Marcin Gortat screen. Unfortunately that switch put Hassan Whiteside, one of the game's best defensive players, on him. Whiteside tracked him near the corner and blocked Beal's shot from 26 feet.
"Our play that we drew up, nobody really got open including myself," Beal said. "We didn't execute the right way and as a result it was a bad one."
Add it all up and the Wizards thoroughly botched the ending of this one. Good thing it wasn't the playoffs.
"I've been pleased with the way we've been executing," Brooks said. "We have won a lot of close games because we have that. Tonight wasn't one of our better executed end of games. I take ownership of that. I have to do a better job."
"If we play like this, we're going to get swept. It's plain and simple," Beal said. "We have to look ourselves in the mirror."
That may be an extreme viewpoint, but clearly the Wizards want to clean this up before it could really hurt them.