WASHINGTON -- Following an embarrassing loss to the Phoenix Suns, in which the Wizards scored their fewest points in a game since 2018, big man Montrezl Harrell let out his frustration over a variety of issues he feels are currently plaguing his team.
The Wizards have now lost seven of eight games and in this one went down by as many as 36. When asked for the mood in the locker room as they navigate a low point, he didn't pull any punches.
"It sucks, bro. That's the mood of the team. It [expletive] sucks. Coming in here and teams are basically beating our [expletive] from start to finish. So, it sucks, man," Harrell said.
"Nobody likes losing. Everyone in our locker room is competitive-minded people and love to compete and get after it. But it just sucks right now because over the last eight games we've played, we lost seven of them. That's tough for anybody to withstand or have on their plate. So, that's the energy in the room right now, it just [expletive] sucks."
The Wizards recently had a six-game losing streak, which along the way led other veterans on the team like Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma to speak up, saying changes are needed. This was the most vocal Harrell has been during this stretch and, you could say, this season overall.
Harrell is never afraid to speak his mind, but this loss seemed to irk him more than most. The Wizards scored only 11 points in the second quarter, a season-low for a single frame. They shot 35.3% from the field and 5-for-24 from three.
It was a hideous offensive night for Washington and you could tell that just by looking at the box score. According to Harrell, though, it was worse than it looked.
"I don't think we were ready to play when the ball was thrown up. They jumped on us for an early lead and they really didn't look back from there. At the end of the day, we can't just keep cruising into games," Harrell said.
Harrell seemed to suggest the Wizards lack energy and effort. He is known for those things, but lately there have been complaints by head coach Wes Unseld Jr. and others about a lack of urgency.
Harrell seems to be particularly bothered by it.
"I don't know, but I'm tired of hearing the energy thing, bro. If you can't energize yourself or fire yourself up to be able to come here to play the game of basketball, bro, which is your job and you make a lot of money to do it, brother, then you're in the wrong field, man. I'm tired of hearing that," Harrell said.
Harrell led the Wizards with 15 points against the Suns. It wasn't his best game, as he shot 5-for-12, and was part of a defensive unit that got mauled by Suns center Deandre Ayton. But it was also yet another game where he came off the bench and did his job.
Harrell has been one of the few mainstays for the Wizards this season. They started the year at 10-3 and have since gone 14-25. That's a 39-game sample size, nearly half of a regular-season schedule, in which they have played at a 29-win pace.
Harrell said the 10-3 start was a bit of a mirage because they were a newly-constructed team with a new head coach. He believes other teams didn't know their identity early on but have since adjusted after getting film on what they like to do.
Harrell thinks adjusting further to stay ahead of their opponents is a missing ingredient and one they will need to figure out to get back on track.
"I feel like we go into the game with a set plan or whatever we have laid out for the instance of that night and it's just going to be what works. That's not the case, man. We've gotta learn how to play on the fly and make adjustments and be able to fix it and try to correct things once they happen. I feel like we just kind of stay with what we're trying to make work, I guess," he said.
Harrell is just the latest Wizards veteran to speak up candidly about a season that continues to slip away after a promising start. They only have one game left before the Feb. 10 trade deadline, which will be the last opportunity for the front office to remake the team's roster in a major way. Perhaps they will consider some of the problem areas Harrell has brought under the microscope.