Washington Wizards are struggling – The Athletic

NEW ORLEANS — Wednesday night’s game between the Washington Wizards and New Orleans Pelicans featured unusual halftime entertainment: a Thanksgiving-themed eating contest.

Two men competed mano-a-mano to devour turkey, ham and green bean casserole. Game night staff spread a plastic drop cloth atop the Pelicans logo at midcourt and brought out two trash cans in case the entrants felt ill as they hurried through their food. Indeed, one of the contestants retched midway through, with the sight captured live on Smoothie King Center’s mammoth video board.

It was gross, but it was not as repellant as the visiting basketball team’s performance.

The same Wizards who steamrolled their way through the early stages of the regular season, nearly setting a record for the best start in franchise history, lost to the Pelicans, 127-102, in a game that felt more lopsided than the final score indicates. The Wizards turned the ball over repeatedly. They missed outside shots. They never held a lead or even tied the score.

Even a championship contender will look off-kilter at least once or twice during an 82-game regular season. It happens. That is life in the NBA. So any single trouncing should not cause hand-wringing and consternation.

But what the Wizards endured on Thanksgiving Eve wasn’t entirely new. They lost for the fourth time over a five-game stretch — a span pock-marked by turnovers, double-digit deficits and lackluster results from the starting unit. Effort doesn’t appear to be the problem. A sudden inability to play how they want to play is the problem. The team has lost its defensive edge. Too often, it hinders itself with self-inflicted mistakes.

“We’re going the wrong way,” coach Wes Unseld Jr. told reporters.

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