Wizards

Wizards

Elvin Hayes, Phil Chenier and the 1977-78 Bullets deserved better than this.

While hosting some of the best players in franchise history to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their lone NBA championship, the Wizards put in one of their worst performances of the season, a 101-97 loss to a Knicks team that had lost 19 of their last 22 games.

With the loss, the Wizards have now dropped eight of their last 12 games. Players are fed up and searching for answers.

No one was stronger with his words than guard Bradley Beal, who didn't play very well himself. He was held to 14 points on 5-for-17 shooting by New York.

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Beal was sick of his own play and that of his teammates when addressing the media afterwards.

"We're acting like we don't give a damn, honestly. We thought we could just show up and play because they didn't have anything to play for. We just thought it was going to be a cake walk and they just smacked us in the mouth," Beal said.

He went on.

"I'm tired of talking about this s***. It's just the same thing over and over," he said. "Until we do it individually and together collectively, we're going to get our asses kicked in the playoffs. This isn't even remotely acceptable, how we are playing right now."

 

Beal's frustrations have boiled over as the Wizards are playing some of their worst basketball of the entire season right when they should be gearing up for the playoffs. While they are stumbling, teams like the Cavaliers and Sixers are sprinting to the finish, appearing to peak at the right time.

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The Wizards, meanwhile, are losing their footing. The good news is that five-time All-Star John Wall is on his way back. The bad news is that he won't be back immediately. Wall still has to go through several more practices before he is cleared for game action.

From there, it could take time for Wall to get up to full speed. Wednesday will mark eight weeks since he had arthroscopic left knee surgery.

Wall is still on the mend and won't fix all of their problems overnight. The Wizards need to understand that and play like it.

Head coach Scott Brooks was asked about whether his team was overlooking games, knowing Wall is very close to returning. He balked at the suggestion.

Minutes later, point guard Tomas Satoransky brought it up unprompted.

"It looks like we are waiting for John to come back and change everything," Satoransky said. "We're not playing like we did the first games he was missing. That's not right way to do it. We have to go and play as hard as we can every game."

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There's no question this team looks different than they did when Wall first went out in late January. They began his absence by winning 10 of their first 13 games.

There were even whispers in the media and among fans about whether the Wizards were better off without Wall in the mix. They were completely uninformed and off-base, but those things were said.

Now all of that seems ridiculous in hindsight. There was a long way to go and surely the Wizards were going to experience some rough times while Wall was out. No team loses an All-NBA player and all of a sudden gets better. It doesn't work like that.

These struggles were probably inevitable for the Wizards without Wall. They happen to be occurring in the days leading up to his return, creating tension and urgency to keep the ship afloat before their captain returns.

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