The Washington Wizards are having all kinds of problems with teams in their own division.
Fortunately, they don’t have to play one again for two weeks.
The struggling Wizards begin a stretch of six straight games against teams outside their division when they visit the Chicago Bulls at the United Center.
The Wizards fell to 0-8 against teams from the mediocre Atlantic Division following Friday’s 92-84 setback at Miami. They have lost 11 straight to division opponents dating to a 91-87 road victory over the Heat on April 11.
Washington will not play an Atlantic opponent until it visits Orlando on Jan. 9. In the meantime, the Wizards will take on the Bulls, Atlanta Hawks, Golden State Warriors, Milwaukee Bucks, San Antonio Spurs and New Orleans Hornets.
Washington has lost three in a row and 11 of 14 overall. The Wizards shot 40 percent from the field Friday, but did not make a single shot after taking a 78-74 lead with 7:37 to go.
“That’s something we’ve got to look at—why we couldn’t put it in,” Wizards guard Steve Blake said. “I don’t know if it’s good defense or what, but we’ve got to correct it.”
Larry Hughes scored 21 points to lead the Wizards in scoring for the sixth time in seven games. He has averaged 23 points in his last four games, and is the team’s second-leading scorer at 18.5 per game.
Gilbert Arenas, who has been out since Dec. 14 due to an abdominal injury, leads Washington with 20 points and 5.4 assists per contest. Arenas is expected to return to action against the Hawks.
Jamal Crawford, who guarded James, matched a season-high with 30 points and added five assists as he played the entire 48 minutes. He shot 12-of-20 after hitting just 7-of-27 for a combined 17 points in his previous two games.
“I knew I had some work to do,” Crawford said. “When the coaches said, ‘You take LeBron’, that meant a lot to have that confidence in me. It energized me.”
The Wizards have won seven of the last nine meetings in the series, including a 99-74 rout at the United Center on Oct. 29.