Is it a question of motivation for the Wizards, who seem to have trouble with teams on the downturn? Friday's loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, at Verizon Center no less, is another in a long line of disappointments for a team that has been over .500 and beaten elites in the Western Conference.
Coach Randy Wittman preached to the Wizards (24-25) that it would be the most important test for them this season. They failed. Miserably. The result: Cavaliers 115, Wizards 113.
“It was as bad of a performance from a defensive standpoint, had nothing to do with making shots. It had a lot to do with how they got those shots that they made. The effort we put in to defend it," Wittman said, in addition to his Wizards -- in essence -- are frauds. "And when you try to do that, you take that part of the game off, because you think you might be able to get away with doing that, and not having to exert on both ends of the floor, this is what happens. And we’ve talked about it. I’ve got to figure something new out obviously, that falls on my shoulders."
So is there something that's not happening to get the Wizards up for teams such as the Cavs, who they've lost to twice at home, in addition to the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks? The Cavs (17-33) were in complete disarray coming in, having fired GM Chris Grant on Thursday.
[RELATED: Instant analysis: Cavs 115, Wizards 113]
"I think coach is doing a heck of a job. I don't think there's nothing more you (can do) to motivate us. You're in this situation to get over .500 and then you have an opportunity to beat the Spurs (on Wednesday), you let that game go and you have an opportunity to play an OK team that's struggling, going through so much especially losing their GM in the Cavaliers and you don't go out there and show the respect to those guys," said John Wall, who had 32 points and 10 assists. "They come out there and slap us in the face and beat us. I don't think there's nothing more you can do. He does everything he can in practice. They show us the game schemes and the concepts and everything we do. We're the ones as players who've got to go out there and put our heart on the line and compete."
Center Marcin Gortat has frequently complained about getting "punked" at home, where the Wizards dropped to 12-13.
"I speak for myself, but I don't think coach has to do anything different with me. I motivate myself for the game. I don't need anybody to motivate me," said Gortat, who had 19 points and eight rebounds. "I take everything seriously. Obviously, not every time I'm playing the best basketball but to me each one of us has to find a way to get ready for the game and focus and try to play the game like it's the last time you're playing in your life. Sometimes, we don't do that."