It hasn’t been easy for the last-place Washington Wizards to feel confident heading into any game this season. Yet that might be exactly the case as they get ready for the opener of their four-game West Coast trip.
The Wizards will try to win consecutive games for just the second time this season on Monday afternoon when they visit the Golden State Warriors, who were blown out in their first encounter with Washington.
Losing streaks have been the norm for the Wizards (8-31) this season, as they’ve already suffered through four stretches of at least five consecutive losses while cementing themselves as the Eastern Conference’s worst team.
They appeared to be headed for their seventh straight loss on Friday against the New York Knicks, trailing by six with just over four minutes left to play. But Washington scored 15 of the game’s final 17 points to storm back for a 96-89 victory.
“The win was terrific for everybody,” interim coach Ed Tapscott said. “We have some really good players and some young guys who are really learning and developing. … This game will be a really nice confidence-builder for our guys. They have continued to work hard and they believe they can really get things going.”
Tapscott has been around for seven of the Wizards’ eight wins since taking over on Nov. 24. His first victory as Washington’s head coach came just a day later, when Golden State (12-29) came to the Verizon Center.
“They outworked us, outhustled us, outplayed us,” Warriors coach Don Nelson said at the time. “They did everything well and we didn’t do very much well at all.”
That was part of an 0-5 trip east for Golden State and a nine-game losing streak overall.
Right now, though, the Warriors are in the midst of a season-high seven-game homestand. Golden State is 8-9 at Oracle Arena, outscoring its opponents by 0.7 points per game. On the road it’s 4-20, losing by an average of 10.1 points.
The injury-plagued Warriors are 2-1 so far in their stretch at home, with both wins coming against Eastern opponents. All three games have been high-scoring, the latest coming Friday in a 119-114 victory over Atlanta behind 29 points from Jamal Crawford and 24 apiece from Stephen Jackson and Corey Maggette.
That was Jackson’s first game back after missing a week with a right hamstring injury. Point guard Monta Ellis is also close to getting on the court for the first time following his offseason moped accident and his subsequent ankle injury.
“The biggest thing is to stay positive,” Jackson said. “As we get guys back we’ll keep improving. … We’re going to be tough to beat when everybody is clicking.”
The Warriors’ first game against Washington wasn’t just Tapscott’s debut; it was also the first game Crawford played after getting traded to Golden State from New York.
He only had nine points in that loss, but Crawford has averaged 32.0 points on 48.6 percent shooting (35-for-72) on the current homestand.
Butler has struggled for the Wizards since coming back from an ankle injury, scoring 14.9 points per game on 36.5 percent shooting in his last nine games.
Nick Young, however, has picked up the slack. The second-year guard is averaging 23.2 points on 66.2 percent shooting in his previous five games.