Although several players have had their issues on the offensive end -- John Wall's turnovers, Bradley Beal's mid-range shot, Trevor Ariza's three-point shot -- the problem is simply defense. The Wizards averaged 108 points per game on their four-game West coast trip. They lost three of them.
"We've lost focus defensively," coach Randy Wittman said ahead of Wednesday's game vs. the Phoenix Suns at Verizon Center. "That should be four wins when you average 108 points on the offensive end. We got to be able to hold teams under 108 and we gave up a 111 average. We've got to get back to defending. Sometimes we look to much to outscore somebody."
Wall endorsed Wittman's observations.
"We knew this was a trip where we knew we couldn't outscore teams because all those teams could definitely score the ball," he said. "They don't try to play defense. They try to outscore you. (Regardless of) the game plans and all those things, we were just thinking about scoring and not focusing on defense too much. That hurt us. That's why we were averaging 108 points. We scored enough. We just gave up 111. No defense was played."
This failure led to an overreaching point from Marcin Gortat, who isn't pleased with the Wizards' focus on finishing opponents. They led the Denver Nuggets by 14 in the first quarter. They led the Los Angeles Lakers by as many as 21. They were up double-digits on the Sacramento Kings in the waning minutes of regulation. They lost two of those games. It has been a common theme throughout the season.
"That's what this team has got to learn. Whether its the last three weeks of this season or as we move forward. We don't have that edge of putting a team away," said Wittman, pointing out despite a season-high 24 turnovers in Denver his team scored 102 points. "Sometimes that's right away. Against Denver we opened up a 14-point lead right from the beginning. Playing good, ball moving, then we just kind of, 'We're up 14, we can coast a little bit.' Now it's a tied game. We're down two. We've seen it a lot. It's a conscious thing. The Lakers, we're up 21. It gets down to (seven). You're up 10 with three minutes to go in Sacramento. You got to have that, 'This is it. We're putting them away.'"