The first five games of the Wizards' 2012-13 season epitomizes the phrase so close and yet so far away. Washington held fourth quarter leads in four of the five contests, but inopportune scoring droughts and costly turnovers have proved problematic for a team unable to generate easy offense.
Saturday at Indiana, Jordan Crawford drilled a 3-pointer 27 seconds into the fourth quarter, putting Washington ahead 75-70, but Randy Wittman's squad would only score 10 more points.
Falling in love with perimeter attempts took away from aggressive attempts at reaching the foul line. For the game Washington made a healthy 10 of 24 shots from beyond the arc, but missed five of seven in the fourth quarter. The took only seven free throws against the Pacers, two in the final quarter. Sometimes just one point is all a momentum shift requires.
"This game's funny," Wittman said following Monday's practice at the Verizon Center. "That team can go on an 8-0 run and all of a sudden you get one free throw, and the streak's over. But, as it keeps building and you stay there longer and longer it progresses. Sometimes we don't play like we know we've just missed our last eight shots and what kind of shot am I going to come down and take this time."
Then come the turnovers, which the Wizards kept to a minimum against the Pacers - 12 overall -, until the fourth quarter that is.
"When you look at the overall picture from Indiana, 12 turnovers, I'll live with that all day long. All day long, I'll live with that, "Wittman said." But I won't live with six of those 12 in the 4th quarter. The 12 is good if it makes any sense. The six that we had were bad because it was in crunch time. Those are six opportunities to score a basket when the game is decided by one basket. That's big."
That's also a recurring theme, one of several of unwanted ones for one the NBA's only two winless teams.
"It comes down to the execution, too. Our fourth quarter, what'd we score in Indiana, 13? We had lapses; it is déjà vu to me. Was it Milwaukee where we were on 72 (points) for almost six minutes. You know those lapses in close games; it's hard to win a game with a lapse like that."