When you trade for Russell Westbrook, re-sign Davis Bertans to an $80 million contract extension and enter a season stating the playoffs as your goal, you do not expect to start out 0-3. Yet, that's where the Wizards have found themselves after another loss to the Orlando Magic on Sunday night, their third straight game with a fourth quarter collapse.
On Sunday, they blew a 17-point fourth quarter lead to lose by seven. Afterwards, the team shared their frustration while speaking with the media on Zoom.
"You don't go from 17 points, damn near 20 points, to losing the damn game. That's unacceptable on all fronts," Bradley Beal said.
"It's not where we wanted to be, but we are," head coach Scott Brooks said. "We will take ownership of it, myself included. I need to do a better job. We all do."
Brooks went on to say of the 0-3 start: "It's on me."
The Wizards were outscored 43-19 in the fourth quarter against the Magic on Sunday. The night before, Orlando outdid them 38-29 in the fourth.
The way the Wizards have lost has added to their angst. Through three quarters, they've shown their potential against two playoff-caliber teams (the Magic and Sixers), but have looked like a completely different group in the fourth, getting outscored 121-72 in total.
"If it's a three-game season, we didn't have a very good year. But we've still got 69 games left. We've gotta keep fighting," Brooks said.
Beal also expressed some optimism, saying the team has remained positive. He said there is no discord in the locker room.
When asked about the psyche of the team, he said there are no long-term concerns about effort or players being motivated.
"It's the NBA. If you're not motivated to play, then you shouldn't be here," Beal said. "That's just plain and simple. If you're playing at the highest level of basketball and you can't get yourself mentally and physically ready to go, then you're on the wrong level of basketball."
The Wizards will next play a two-game set against the Chicago Bulls, who just like them, are 0-3. After that, however, the schedule will get increasingly difficult. They will see the Timberwolves, Nets, Sixers, Celtics and Heat.
The schedule will be unforgiving as they aim to get their season back on track.