After opening a franchise-worst 0-8 last season, the Washington Wizards find themselves in the midst of another brutal start.
While the Wizards would appear to have a good shot at finally breaking through Tuesday night given their recent success against the Charlotte Bobcats, they could have their hands full with rookie sensation Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Washington tries for a sixth consecutive win over the Bobcats, who are hoping to build on their latest result.
The Wizards stayed close again Saturday but dropped to 0-5 after coming undone in the fourth quarter of an 89-85 loss at Indiana. First-year standout Bradley Beal had 17 points while A.J. Price scored 12 to go along with a career-high 14 assists for Washington, which shot 5 of 16 and was outscored 19-13 over the final 12 minutes.
All of Washington’s defeats have come by 10 points or fewer, with three decided by a combined 13.
“We’re right there again,” coach Randy Wittman said. “Just kind of the little things in games like this.
“We, from a stats standpoint, (didn’t) take care of the ball. Twelve turnovers, (five) of them were in the fourth quarter. To win close games you can’t have (five) turnovers in the fourth quarter.”
Washington is averaging 16.0 turnovers and ranks near the bottom of the league in points per game (88.0) and field-goal percentage (41.4). The Wizards are shooting 36.1 percent in the fourth and have 20 fourth-quarter turnovers in their last four games.
“One of our problems is that we turn the ball over too much,” said Beal, averaging 18.3 points over his last three games. “We’re hesitant in our movement and our passes and a lot of other things.
“We have the parts we need, it’s just putting it all together and having better overall execution.”
The Wizards haven’t had much trouble executing against the Bobcats of late, outscoring them by an average of 16.4 points during their winning streak.
Charlotte (2-3), though, may not go down as easy this time around.
After dropping three in a row, the Bobcats got back on track with Saturday’s 101-97 overtime win over Dallas - their first victory in 17 all-time meetings. Kemba Walker had 26 points and a franchise high-tying eight steals while Kidd-Gilchrist compiled season bests of 25 points and 12 rebounds.
Kidd-Gilchrist, who was drafted one spot ahead of Beal at No. 2 overall, is averaging 14.8 points on 53.8 percent shooting in his last four games.
“I think everybody that has been watching all of our games say that MKG gets a little bit better and then all of a sudden he had what you would call a breakout game,” first-year coach Mike Dunlap said.
“I think realistic expectations are that he can do what he is doing on the boards. He is a very good defender. The third part of his game is indescribable. He just does little intangibles, passes the ball in close quarters, gets an extra hand on the ball to keep it alive on the offensive glass.”
In addition to Kidd-Gilchrist’s growth, more efficient efforts from Walker could prove key for Charlotte. He’s averaged 28.0 points on 46.5 percent shooting in the Bobcats’ wins and 12.7 on 39.5 percent from the field in their losses.
“He’s finding his voice, running things, taking responsibility for our playbook and calling certain things instead of me calling him,” Dunlap said. “That is all his development.’
Charlotte hasn’t recorded back-to-back victories since winning its final two games in 2010-11.
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