It has been more than a week since John Wall stepped to the free throw line with a chance to seal a victory at the Sacramento Kings to begin a four-game road trip. He blew it, however, and still can't let it go. The Wizards, he insists, are in this funk of losing four of their last five games because of him -- their All-Star, leader and best player.
This has nothing to do with pressure that comes from fighting for a high enough playoff seed to keep themselves out of the dreaded No. 7 and 8 slots that has gotten to the Wizards (36-35), at least not in Wall's mind. It's the bad vibes he created after clanking two free throws with 18 seconds left in a game they led by two on March 18.
"We're free. We're having fun," Wall, an 81% foul shooter, said when asked if they were playing tight going into Friday's game vs. the Indiana Pacers at Verizon Center (CSN, 7 p.m. ET). "It all started when I missed those two free throws in Sacramento to close that game. We kind of went downhill losing tough games after that. Luckily we got one in L.A. and then we went to Denver and had 24 turnovers. We could've won that game."
If he'd made both, the Wizards would've been ahead by four points and probably won. Instead, the Kings, who already were eliminated from the playoffs, won in overtime. The Wizards would lose three of four games on the trip. Then they came home to trail by 25 to the Phoenix Suns, surging back but losing 99-93 on Wednesday. Even before Wall's misfires, the Wizards were on shaky ground. They lost a 10-point lead in the waning minutes of the game in Sacramento. They almost blew a 21-point lead over the Los Angeles Lakers, their only win on the trip. Their problems, despite Wall's efforts to take the blame, are deeper than that.
"We worry about offense too much," Wall conceded. "When you do that, you see what happens when you play no defense. You get embarrassed."