Wizards vs. Bobcats: How Washington Will Fix Cold Start to 2014

Will GroomsCorrespondent IJanuary 7, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 1: John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards drives against Jose Calderon #8 of the Dallas Mavericks during the game at the Verizon Center on January 1, 2014 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Heading into Tuesday night's game against the Charlotte Bobcats, the Washington Wizards are well aware that a fourth consecutive loss would tie their longest losing streak of the season.

Following losses to the Dallas Mavericks, Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors, the Wizards are without a win in the new year and scrambling to find answers. The dry spell, however, is far from fatal and Washington still holds the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference standings.

The cold start to 2014 can be mainly attributed to losing the turnover battle and poor, or below their seasonal average 44.6 percent shooting from the field—as displayed in the chart below:

OpponentGame ResultTurnover Margin (Was-Opp)Field Goal Percentage
Dallas MavericksL 87-7818-1537.5%
Toronto RaptorsL 101-8817-1241.5%
Golden State WarriorsL 112-9613-1243.0%

Further, Washington has been decimated in the second half, being outscored in the third quarter by a combined total of 90-50 by the three opponents.

One player that the Wizards need to get on the same page is center Marcin Gortat. The Polish Hammer had the following to say about the last three games, via J. Michael of CSNWashington.com:

We embarrassed ourselves with the last two performances, especially here at home. We owe big apologies to our fans for the performance we had last night. Hopefully we're going to get some wins in a row. We're coming out flat without the right focus. We're forgetting the game is 48 minutes.

Over the losing stretch, Gortat has averaged 10.7 points per game and just 5.3 rebounds per game, down from his seasonal averages of 12.4 and 8.4. 

The first time that Washington will see Charlotte this season, the former Phoenix Sun figures to right the ship, as per his excellent track record facing the Bobcats.

In the Suns' first of two matchups with the Bobcats in the 2012-13 season, Gortat had perhaps the best game of his career—scoring 23 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and recording a career-high seven blocks.

Marcin Gortat's highlights against the Charlotte Bobcats (11/7/2012):

This time, however, Gortat will see a new face, but familiar foe in center Al Jefferson. In his last two face-offs against Jefferson and the Utah Jazz, Gortat averaged 15 points and 12.5 rebounds.

Post play is critical for the Wizards this season. Backcourt counterparts John Wall and Bradley Beal have proven to be consistent producers. Nene has also been solid. The X-factor seems to be Gortat.

In wins this season, Gortat has recorded a higher total in just about every major statistical category. Most importantly, in Washington victories, Gortat has shot 59.3 percent from the field versus 47.7 percent in defeats.

The offensive production that the Wizards desperately need must start with and come from Gortat. Once he becomes a threat, the three-point shot becomes easier, driving to the basket and finding open teammates become easier and team scoring becomes easier.

Washington is still in very good shape, but it needs to get going now.


All stats courtesy of NBA.com