Reporting Byron Kerr
WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — It has been a rough stretch in a difficult season for the Washington Wizards. That painful stretch of an abbreviated campaign continued Wednesday. Outmanned and outgunned, the Wizards fell to the playoff-bound Indiana Pacers 109-96 before 14,561 at Verizon Center.
It has been even more difficult for the face of the franchise the last few games. Without the sheer front court presence of starting center Nene and the ever emerging Trevor Booker for the third consecutive game, John Wall has struggled, going 12-for-36 (.333) from the field and with no steals and 13 turnovers.
Wizards coach Randy Wittman said the rough patch for Wall wasn’t for lack of effort.
“I think he needs to take a step back and simplify things,” Wittman said after his starting point guard went 4-for-15 from the field. “He is trying to maybe do too much to fast right now to fight through how he has played the last couple games. It is kind of what I have told him. It is not an easy thing to do. He is a competitive kid who wants to play well and wants to play the right way. Sometimes you just get going the opposite way when you struggle a little bit.”
But the team’s struggles date back even farther. The team has now lost eight of their last nine overall games, with just two wins at home since March 7. Indiana has won all three meetings with the Wizards since February 22.
On Wednesday, the Wizards showed some fight, hanging with the Pacers into the third quarter. Washington led 61-60 on a Jordan Crawford 20-foot step back jumper with 8:30 remaining. But Indiana quickly answered. The Pacers Danny Granger, as he did in the last meeting between these two teams in Indianapolis, scored 7 of his team-high 20 points in a 26-13 run to end the quarter. Indiana led 86-74 after three frames.
Crawford finished with 28 points on 11-for-22 shooting and five three-pointers, but sensed that the Pacers depth was too much during the decisive second half. Indiana coach Frank Vogel put in 13 players while the Wizards played just nine.
“It hurt us,” Crawford said. “We don’t have too many options to go to. The third and fourth quarter we kind of get tired. They can just sub in a whole new five. It costs us but we should be able to play through it.”
Notes: Former Georgetown star Roy Hibbert scored 13 points and had 4 blocks, but did not record one rebound. Wizards center Kevin Seraphin scored a career-high 19 points and grabbed 10 boards. Teammate Brian Cook tallied a season-high 10 points and brought downs 9 caroms. The Pacers made their first six field goals and finished the first quarter 14-of-16 from the field for 88 percent.