Wizards conjure up Magic amid bad spell

The Los Angeles Clippers' Marcin Gortat (in blue) has his shot blocked by John Wall of the Washington Wizards during the first half at the Capital One Arena on Tuesday. The Wizards won the National Basketball Association game 125-118 to improve to 6-
The Los Angeles Clippers' Marcin Gortat (in blue) has his shot blocked by John Wall of the Washington Wizards during the first half at the Capital One Arena on Tuesday. The Wizards won the National Basketball Association game 125-118 to improve to 6-11.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Washington win after going 24 points down, following poor start to season and internal conflicts

WASHINGTON • The night should have felt cathartic. For the Washington Wizards players, who spent the previous 11/2 days receiving text alerts about their availability in trades or their private frustrations becoming tweets.

For coach Scott Brooks, who has been shouldering the blame for the team's poor start to the season.

For the fan base, many of whom paid for tickets on Tuesday at the Capital One Arena and voiced their displeasure at the issues plaguing the team on and off the court.

With so many clouds surrounding them, the Wizards completed the second-largest comeback of the National Basketball Association season with their 125-118 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Though the win should have purged the ill will in the Wizards' (6-11) camp, which was sparked by a contentious practice last week and reportedly resulted in several verbal altercations, the night did not end with the joy many would have expected from such a rally.

"We still have a lot of stuff to fix. It's one game," said All-Star Bradley Beal, who has been involved in trade rumours with teammate and five-time All-Star John Wall.

"I'm still not happy. I know that everybody is still not happy with where we are. We still have a lot of work to do, but you definitely take a lot of positives out of it, especially with all the negativity that's been around us."

DIRTY LAUNDRY

The comments... from the locker room, it's f***** up what's going on. So, I wouldn't say it makes it nicer. That don't happen in other sports, it's messed up.

MARKIEFF MORRIS, Washington forward, expressing his displeasure that the altercations during practice were leaked to the media.

Beal, who had 27 points behind Wall's 30, ended the game bloodied and bruised with a gash over his right eye from a collision with Clippers guard Tyrone Wallace.

His face mirrored that of the Wizards, who are reeling from the public airing of the team's dirty laundry. An anonymous player spoke to ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith, pinning the team's struggles on Wall, and the story has turned the Wizards into the league's juiciest drama.

Inside the locker room, although Washington fought back from a 24-point deficit in the first half to beat a good Clippers team (11-6) led by Tobias Harris' 29 points, the sun did not quite come out.

Wizards forward Markieff Morris felt there was no silver lining to the victory, saying: "The comments that's coming from the locker room, it's f***** up what's going on. So, I wouldn't say it makes it nicer. That don't happen in other sports, it's messed up."

And Wall, who was reportedly fined by the Wizards for an expletive-laden rant at Brooks during that practice, admitted there had been "a lot of frustration" over the team's self-inflicted wounds although the pair had already put their bust-up behind them.

"When you go through a lot, the flames build up in one situation and you kind of get to that. That's why we both apologised and I left it at that," said the guard, who has spent his entire career in Washington since joining in 2010 and signed a three-year, US$170 million (S$233 million) contract extension last year.

"I love being here. I want to finish here, that's all I can control… I'm playing basketball. I can't control (the speculation)."

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 22, 2018, with the headline 'Wizards conjure up Magic amid bad spell'. Print Edition | Subscribe