While the Wizards' 35-point collapse against the Clippers in January was far more stunning and memorable, their loss to the Rockets on Monday naturally brought with it comparisons, as they were up 23 points in the first half and ended up losing by 18. They trailed by as many as 20 points, meaning there was a 43-point swing in the game.
It wasn't punctuated by a 4-point play in the closing seconds like the loss to L.A., but it was bad and it spoke to a larger trend according to head coach Wes Unseld Jr.
"I thought we let our foot off the gas. It's one of those things where you mess with the game, the game messes with you. Sadly, we can't seem to learn that lesson. We saw a similar game at home against the Clippers. Apparently, we have short memories," Unseld Jr. said.
The Wizards have now blown leads this season of 35, 23, 13 (three times), 12 and 10 points (twice). Their inability to defend consistently and tendency to go cold from 3-point range can make it difficult to sustain momentum. In many cases, those same issues prevent them from regaining momentum once it is lost.
"If we're really serious about being competitive, we can't allow that to happen," Unseld Jr. said.
Kristaps Porzingis said his technical foul in the fourth quarter was an attempt to shift the momentum back in the Wizards' favor. Tomas Satoransky drove baseline and had his shot blocked by Alperen Sengun, though replays showed the ball hit the backboard before Sengun made contact. It should have been ruled goaltending.
Porzingis argued the call to the point he got T'd up, and though he probably had a point, it was a desperate measure during a desperate time.
"I'm not a hothead," Porzingis said.
Porzingis said that turning the game around generally proved to be a frustratingly difficult task. He led the team in scoring with 22 points, but in the second half only had six points and shot 1-for-8. The Wizards as a team scored only 34 points and shot just 23.1% in the second half.
It was their fewest points scored in a second half since 2015.
"The main thing I think we were trying to translate to each other was just stay calm. We're not going to get the momentum back or get the lead back with one possession. It has to be slow. We just weren't able to find that turning point," Porzingis said.
While the Wizards couldn't make shots, the Rockets caught fire. They hit 20 threes and shot 51.3% from long range. The Wizards made only six threes for the game and Houston more than doubled that in the second half alone (13).
Christian Wood was a big reason for that with 39 points. He shot 8-of-9 from 3-point range and by the end of the game was sinking them from long distance even with defenders in his face.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said the Wizards "didn't have enough pride" and called their defensive effort "lazy." Those are variations of things he and others have said about the Wizards at their lowest points this season.
While the front office will go into the offseason with an idea of what types of players and skillsets they would like to acquire, perhaps some of these intangibles need to be kept in mind. Certainly, they don't want to experience any more losses like this one moving forward.