OK, so there are two ways you can look at the Wizards’ dreadful 0-9 start.
The optimist in you says they are a player or two (John Wall and/or Nene) from turning their narrow defeats into narrow victories.
The pessimist in you says they are halfway to matching the NBA record of starting a season with 18 straight losses.
In what has become a broken record this season, the Wizards were persistent enough to whittle a 20-point deficit down to one with 3:30 to play. But they couldn’t get the crucial bucket they needed down the stretch and fell 96-89 to the visiting Indiana Pacers at Verizon Center.
The Wizards are now the first team in franchise history to start a season with nine straight losses, eclipsing last year’s 0-8 start under deposed coach Flip Saunders.
This time, it was rookie Bradley Beal reeling off 15 second-half points to lead the Wizards on the brink of their first win.
The Wiz drew within 86-85 with 3:30 remaining when Chris Singleton hit a jumper and was fouled. But he missed his free throw and the Wizards never got closer than three points the rest of the way as David West scored 13 of his game-high 30 points in the fourth quarter.
Beal’s 18 points led the Wizards, followed by Kevin Seraphin’s 13 and Jordan Crawford’s 11.
The Wizards and Pacers entered Monday night’s game as the two lowest-scoring teams in the NBA.
Still, the Pacers ran out to a 21-6 lead on 69 percent shooting. The Wizards shot just 10 percent in that same stretch. By the end of the first quarter the Wizards had seven players in the scoring column but no one with more than two points.
The Wizards shot 40 percent in the second quarter and would have entered the half trailing by seven if not for a careless foul by Earl Barron that sent D.J. Augustin to the line with 2.2 seconds remaining. Augustin sank both free throws and the Pacers [5-7] entered the break with just their second halftime lead of the season at 50-41.
It marked the seventh time this season the Wizards had to fight back from a halftime deficit. And once again, they did. Using a 16-0 run late in the third quarter the Wizards cut a 20-point deficit down to 71-67 entering the fourth quarter.
Beal, who earlier in the quarter missed seven straight shots, found his range during that run, scoring nine points in the third quarter, including a pair of threes.
Beal opened the fourth quarter by getting fouled on a 3-point attempt and drained all three free throws to keep the Wiz within four. Singleton brought the Wiz to within one, but back-to-back misses by Shaun Livingston and Seraphin allowed the Pacers to close the door on the Wizards.