John Wall and Trevor Ariza posted 19 and 16 points respectively, but mental errors cost the Washington Wizards (19-40) their shot at catching the Minnesota Timberwolves (21-37) Wednesday night in Minneapolis as the Wiz fell 87-82.
The Wizards had to press onward without their leading scorer, Bradley Beal, who missed Wednesday’s game due to a sprained left ankle. Regardless of whether or not Washington missed Beal’s presence on the court, the team only hurt itself further by committing 24 turnovers, compared with Minnesota’s 14.
Despite a plethora of sloppy mistakes, the Wizards looked hopeful in the first quarter. They rounded out the first 12 minutes of play with a 29-24 lead and – perhaps, more telling – Wall seemed to unravel the secrets of sinking a jump shot.
Although the Wizards lacked balance on defense at times, they somehow controlled the bleeding, trailing just 48-43 at the half despite notching a dozen turnovers. Wall tallied 12 of his 19 points in the first half alone and the T-wolves failed to run away with the opportunities they were handed.
Things looked more promising for the Wizards out of the half – as they often do. Washington kept right on the Timberwolves’ tails throughout the quarter and, with 28 seconds remaining, Martell Webster’s 23-footer sparked what came to be a 12-0 run for Washington carried over into the fourth.
Emeka Okafor started the final quarter with a layup to tie the game and A.J. Price sank a 26-footer, fed by Wall. Nene and Kevin Seraphin added two points of their own before Minnesota showed new signs of life to cut the Wizards’ rally short.
J.J. Barea sank a three from 24 feet to help Minnesota regain momentum and Ricky Rubio and Dante Cunningham teamed up to pull the T-wolves back within a point. With 5:24 remaining, Barea’s 25-footer tied the game at 77 points apiece, essentially erasing what progress Washington had made.
Barea went on to prove a menace for Washington, posting 10 points in the final quarter. With 28 seconds left, he put Minnesota in front on a driving layup to make it 85-82. Luke Ridnour added two free throws to seal the deal and the Wizards walked off with their 23rd road loss this season.
All five of the Wizards’ starters – Ariza, Wall, Webster, Nene and Okafor – tallied double-digit points when all was said and done. The Wizards even outshot the Timberwolves from the field – 44.6 percent compared with Minnesota’s 40.8 percent. In fact, so far as percentages go, the Wizards outshot Minnesota in virtually every category – save for opportunities, that is.
With Washington’s rather far-fetched playoff hopes all but put to rest, the Wizards’ challenges on the road will continue as they face the Brooklyn Nets at 7:30 p.m. ET Friday at the Barclays Center.