Depending on your perspective, the Washington Wizards either blew their game against Phoenix last night by falling behind by 25 points in the third quarter or showed resiliency by cutting the deficit to three points late.
Considering the Suns ultimately won, 99-93, you can guess how the Washington players interpreted the game.
Marcin Gortat, via J. Michael of CSN Washington:
“Embarrassing,” said Gortat, who clearly was choosing his words carefully. “Nobody expected we’re going to play like that. We just didn’t perform.”
Those comments led to this question from me, using Harrington’s Feb. 8 comments — said in a constructively critical fashion, mind you — as a springboard to whether Gortat believes that observation still holds true based on how the Wizards have performed down the stretch.
“Oh, yeah. He’s a veteran,” Gortat said. “He’s definitely a smart guy. Bright guy. I will stand behind his words. Sometimes we just show that mentally we’re weak and just not competing. That’s it.”
The Wizards have lost six of nine, bringing a bit of a crisis of confidence in Washington.
Gortat is getting blunt. Randy Wittman is considering lineup changes.
The Wizards now hold just a 1.5-game lead over the Bobcats for the No. 6 seed and the right to avoid a first-round matchup with the Heat or Pacers, so some concern is certainly understandable. But is something actually going wrong for Washington? Here are the the Wizards’ last nine games:
- at Heat (loss)
- vs. Bobcats (loss)
- at Magic (win)
- vs. Nets (win)
- at Kings (loss)
- at Trail Blazers
- at Lakers (win)
- at Nuggets (loss)
- vs. Suns (loss)
Most of those games are against teams in playoff position. Most of those games are on the road. Going 3-6 in that stretch might be on the low end of the expected range, but I don’t think it’s outside it.
Remember, the Wizards started the season 2-7. Though they played better through most of the middle of the season, they haven’t transformed into an elite team overnight – even if expectations rose quickly.
A small blip in winning doesn’t necessarily make them mentally weak. But Gortat is privy to behind-the-scenes considerations that might make his assessment accurate.
Either way, even if it’s not necessary, an increased sense of urgency won’t hurt anything.