Wizards make it a not-so-sweet 16 straight losses, tying franchise mark

Wizards make it a not-so-sweet 16 straight losses, tying franchise mark

Tooba Shakir 54 years ago 0 0

The fan in Section 104 had seen enough. It was just too much, watching a 21-point lead float away into the rafters at Capital One Arena on Wednesday night. So when Paolo Banchero worked his way past Richaun Holmes for a layup that tied the score midway through the third quarter, the fan let fly.

“This is why we can’t have nice thiiiii-iiings!”

There were nice things in the first half, when the Washington Wizards built that lead. The second half of a 119-109 loss produced many of the same things the Wizards have been offering up during a losing streak that Orlando stretched to 16, matching Washington’s franchise record. The Magic, after a quarter and change of sluggishness against the Wizards’ small-ball lineup, finally remembered the advantages that come with facing a small-ball lineup. Orlando turned to its size.

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The Wizards (9-53) had no answers in the second half.

“We knew it was coming. We weren’t ready for it,” Corey Kispert said of the Magic’s muscle. “That was the difference in the game.”

Jordan Poole led the Wizards with 26 points off the bench. Kyle Kuzma added 25.

Franz Wagner led the Magic with 28 points. Banchero had 25 points, 10 assists and six rebounds.

Orlando (37-26) shot 61.9 percent in the second half as the Wizards’ offense dried up — they shot 34.9 percent — similar to Monday’s collapse at Utah.

Wizards players looked hesitant and unsure in the slow grind of the fourth quarter, missing 13 straight shots down the stretch. The aftermath was a quiet locker room. Their previous win was Jan. 29 at San Antonio.

Interim coach Brian Keefe remained steadfast in his belief and his defense of his players. He said he did not address the fact that the losing streak matched a franchise record, repeating that his group is a committed one that is making progress.

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But players saw one major area that’s still lagging behind.

“Yeah, we addressed [the streak],” point guard Tyus Jones said. “But six games, 16 games, you don’t want to lose many in a row, ever. Regardless of how many it is. At this point … we’ve got to be more desperate. We’ve got to want it more. We don’t want it enough right now. We’ve got to come out and by any means get a win, and that’s not the attitude we have right now.”

The Wizards’ next chance to end the streak comes Friday against the Charlotte Hornets.

Here’s what else to know about Wednesday’s loss:

The Wizards’ 21-point lead in the second quarter was the largest lead they have had since Jan. 13, when they had a 30-point lead against the Hawks in Atlanta. Times have changed since then: Not only were forwards Danilo Gallinari and Mike Muscala still on the roster — it was their final game before being traded to Detroit — but Wes Unseld Jr. was still the coach.

And, of course, Washington won that game.

Keefe opted for a small lineup to start with center Marvin Bagley III out with lower back spasms that began Monday in Utah. Instead of guard Landry Shamet, who started five of six games coming out of the all-star break but struggled to produce much offense in the past three, Kispert got his third start of the season.

The third-year guard ended up with eight points, two assists and a rebound but had some good defensive moments. At 6-foot-7 and 220 pounds, he is a more imposing figure than the 6-4 Shamet while still being a threat from the three-point line.

“Corey brings us spacing, energy, driving the ball to the basket, physicality on defense. He’s just a threat for us, and he brings a lot of movement to our team by the actions he creates,” Keefe said.

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