When the Washington Wizards defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 105-100 on Nov. 15 they were on a roll.
It was their fifth consecutive victory and they overcame a 19-point deficit early in the third quarter, even though they played without star guard Bradley Beal.
But Washington has lost three of four games since as it heads to New Orleans to play the Pelicans again Wednesday night.
Beal has returned, but the Wizards have continued to fall into deep holes.
They trailed by as many as 17 points in the second half and a rally came up short in a 109-103 home loss to Charlotte on Monday.
Washington, which made just 9 of 36 3-pointers, eventually got within two points in the final minute, but couldn’t catch up.
“We can’t try to get it all back in one possession,” said Wizards center Montrezl Harrell, who had 24 points and a season-best 18 rebounds. “We’ve just got to keep doing it together. We had aspects where we tried to get it all back in one play.”
The Wizards’ only victory since their last game against New Orleans also required a comeback from a sizable deficit. They overcame a 16-point deficit to defeat Miami last Saturday.
“We have to look in the mirror,” coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “I have to look in the mirror: I got out-coached. How do we respond? How do we learn from this? We’ve been able to skate by getting double-digit deficits and climbing our way back into it and that’s a great story, but do we learn a lesson?”
The Pelicans have had their own share of problems trying to overcome deficits. They have won just three games.
Zion Williamson has yet to play because of offseason foot surgery, Brandon Ingram has struggled since returning from a seven-game absence due to a hip contusion and Devonte’ Graham has missed the last three games because of a foot injury, though he might return against the Wizards.
For the first time this season, coach Willie Green started Garrett Temple, the team’s most experienced player, and Tomas Satoransky, who’s tied for the third-most experience, in the backcourt together against Minnesota on Monday.
It didn’t help as the pair combined for 10 points, one assist, three rebounds and five turnovers in a combined 27 minutes of a 110-96 home loss.
Another change did pay off, though, as Green turned to center Willy Hernangomez, who had played in just four games, and he responded with 19 points and 11 rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench, making 8 of 9 shots.
“We try to play hard and compete, but I think it’s time to learn and to grow,” Hernangomez said. “It’s almost 20 games into the season. We have to play harder than the other team and want it more.”
Ingram has had a season-low in points in back-to-back games, following up a 12-point outing in a loss at Indiana on Saturday with a nine-point outing against Minnesota. He shot a combined six of 27 in those two games.
“I want him to continue to be aggressive,” Green said. “We’ll figure it out. More than anything, we as a unit, we have to play harder.”