Every time the Wizards appear on the verge of going to the next level, they take a step or two back. Tuesday, it came at the Sacramento Kings when they lost a five-point lead in the final 66 seconds.
"We gambled (defensively) at the end of regulation, twice in overtime for steals. We had no chance. That's a play you make in the first quarter. You gamble which allowed them to attack the basket," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said after the 117-110 overtime loss. "We gave a game away."
The Wizards (35-32) had a chance to gain ground on the third-place Toronto Raptors, who'd lost in overtime, too. Instead, they fell back a spot to sixth in the East standings with 15 games left in the regular season.
"We let our bad play from an offensive standpoint from the start of the game -- we got great looks, got greats shots -- just zap our energy," Wittman said of his team's 39% shooting in the first half in which they trailed by as many as 13 points. "If we had to learn now, I don't know when we're going to learn. ... We fought our way back but those are the things that catch up to you."
To finish this four-game West coast trip with a winning record, the Wizards must be flawless the rest of the way. They play at the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday (CSN, 10 p.m. ET) and even though the L.A. Lakers aren't playing well this will be the second game of a back-to-back Friday (CSN, 10:30).
John Wall had a chance to make a pair of free throws to make it a two-possession game in Sacramento with 18 seconds left but the 82% foul shooter missed both. Bradley Beal missed the final shot of regulation that could've won it, too. The Wizards fought back from a five-point overtime deficit to regain the lead but ran out of gas. They gave a team with nothing to play for this season -- the Kings were officially eliminated from the playoffs over the weekend -- reason to fight back.
"Our mood wasn't the same," Wall said. "Those free throws I feel like cost us the game."