With the Washington Wizards down by 13 points at halftime, point guard John Wall seemed frustrated. The Wizards were playing a sluggish, lackluster game Dec. 6 against the Milwaukee Bucks, the team with the worst record in the Eastern Conference.
Wall tried his best to do something about it. He put his teammates on his back and willed them back into the game during the second half, as the Wizards managed to pull even with the Bucks, forcing overtime with the score tied at 102. But, looking tired and trained, Washington managed to score three points during the extra frame, and lost the game, 109-105.
"We came out and played like it was a pickup game in the first half," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "That's where we lost the game. The first half defense was atrocious. We allowed them to do whatever they wanted to do."
Four players scored in double figures for Milwaukee, including forward Khris Middleton, who led the Bucks with 29, including 20 during the first half.
It's exactly the kind of loss the Wizards don't need -- an exhausting overtime battle, and a loss, to a 4-15 team. Despite the win, Milwaukee is still at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, while Washington is again worse than .500, at 9-10.
Wall led all scorers with 30, and Wizards forward Trevor Ariza added 22. Despite the loss, Wall's energy and hustle during the second half gave his team the spark it had lacked at the beginning of the game. Wittman said he would have liked to see that sort of play earlier.
"We should have single-handedly taken it over at the start of the game," Wittman said, pounding the table for emphasis. "Somebody on this team has got to become the leader that doesn't allow these things to happen. When I went into the locker room to talk to them before the game, the sense in the locker room was carefree, unlike the last two weeks, [when] it was focused."
Told of his coach's postgame comments, Wall had a different take on the team's mood before the game.
"That's his opinion," Wall said. "I feel like we didn't play great in the first half, but it's two halves to a basketball game. We came out in the second half and had a chance to win the basketball game."
Rookie forward Otto Porter made his season debut, entering the game during the second quarter. A former Georgetown player, who had been sidelined with a strained hip flexor, Porter got a standing ovation from an appreciative Verizon Center crowd. He played 14 minutes and went 0-for-3 from the floor.
But the Wizards may have taken one step forward and two steps back on the depth chart. Swingman Martell Webster went down during the second quarter with a sprained left ankle and did not return. Washington also lost forward Nene, who left the game during the third quarter with tendinitis in his right foot. Nene was plagued with foot problems last season, when a nagging case of plantar fasciitis contributed to his missing 21 games throughout the regular season. Both players will be evaluated when the team practices again Dec. 7.
"We feel like we gave this game away," Wall said.
Asked about the injuries to his Webster and Nene, Wall shook his head.
"We can't catch a break," Wall said. "That's all I can really say. We can't catch a break."