In their first three games, all losses, the Wizards showed flashes of dominance and glimmers of hope before falling apart in the final minutes.
Friday night at Verizon Center the Wizards took a significant step backwards, falling apart early in the fourth quarter and turning a close game into a lopsided 101-91 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
The defeat dropped the Wizards’ record to 0-4 heading into a three-game road trip that takes them to Indiana Saturday night, Charlotte on Tuesday and Dallas on Wednesday. Last season the Wizards went 0-8 before they recorded their first victory.
The game ended with tempers flaring and Wizards rookie Bradley Beal and Bucks guard Brandon Jennings ejected.
With 23.7 remaining and the Bucks leading 99-90 Bucks guard Monta Ellis was cruising in for an uncontested layup when Bradley Beal caught him from behind and knocked him to the floor with a hard foul, along with Trevor Booker.
Ellis landed on a female attendant on the floor and Beal quickly extended his hand to Ellis to lift him off the floor. That’s when Jennings arrived and pushed Beal from behind onto the floor in retaliation for the flagrant foul.
Players pushed and shoved and Beal and Ellis, each of whom finished with a game-high of 22 points, were escorted to their locker rooms.
It was an ugly ending to an ugly finish for the Wizards.
Trevor Ariza [15 points] and Emeka Okafor [11 points] awoke from their early-season slumber and Bradley Beal added a season-high 22 points, but the Wizards could not recover from a horrid five-minute stretch to begin the fourth quarter.
Trailing 75-72 after three quarters, the Wizards missed their first seven shots of the fourth quarter and watched the Bucks, who lack a strong inside game, extend their lead to 85-72 with very little resistance.
The Wizards did not get on the scoreboard in fourth quarter until just under 7 minutes remained when Beal sank a pair of free throws. That sparked an 8-0 run but the Wizards never drew closer than five points.
After three straight games in which his bench outscored his starters by a 161-103 count, Wizards coach Randy Wittman had to weigh the option of replacing struggling starters Okafor and Ariza with Kevin Seraphin and Chris Singleton.
He didn’t and his two veterans rewarded his patience.
Ariza and Okafor each scored six points in the opening quarter and the Wizards hit their first six shots to open up a 12-0 lead with their best start of the season.
That lead grew to as much as 14-3 before the Bucks went on a 17-2 run and took a 56-47 lead into the half.