- The Washington Times
Sunday, November 25, 2012

Jordan Crawford was the picture of calm. The Wizards had just lost 108-106 to the Charlotte Bobcats in double overtime to fall to 0-11. But as Crawford stood in the center of the locker room ready to take questions from reporters, the look on his face was more acceptance than disappointment. 

“It’s definitely a tough situation,” Crawford said. “Right now, this position just really shows who’s a man and who is not; who can hold their head up high and keep going. This is still a blessing, to be able to play the game I love every night, so I’m still excited every day.”

Crawford is taking the optimist’s approach to Washington’s franchise-worst start. They have a tough schedule of opponents coming up, beginning Monday night with the San Antonio Spurs (11-3), who will be on the second night of a back-to-back after beating Toronto in double overtime Sunday.

Knowing how the losing takes a toll, Crawford expressed concern about how his rookie backcourt mate, Bradley Beal, is handling it. Crawford advised him to keep everything in perspective.

“I keep encouraging him, but he has to realize it’s still a blessing to be in the NBA,” Crawford said. “He should be excited everyday to come to work.”

With the fresh eyes and the hope of a teenager, Beal, 19, still believes the Wizards can salvage a winning season.

“We still have 70 more games so it’s still a long season,” Beal said. “We still have an opportunity to get over .500. Right now, that’s probably our goal to shoot for. I think we are more than capable of doing it.”

Beal began the season as the starter at shooting guard but was replaced by Crawford after the first seven games. Beal has been inconsistent, but so has everyone else. As soon as the Wizards record that first win, Beal believes things will change.

“I guess it’s sometimes just nerves down the stretch,” Beal said. “That need to win, [that] feeling that we have to win, and I think that’s what is really killing us. I think we need to relax and just play ball.”

Veteran Martell Webster, whose shot just after the buzzer sounded almost gave the Wizards their first win in Atlanta, was amused at the notion that Washington is snake-bitten. But he’s finding the close losses hard to explain.

“It’s just us, and it’s going to be just us that gets us out of this,” Webster said. “There are no excuses, we just have to win.”

The Spurs won’t make that easy Monday at Verizon Center with their trio of All-Stars — Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili — and reigning coach of the year Gregg Popovich.

Veteran Emeka Okafor, no stranger to losing from his early days with Charlotte, put the Wizards’ start in perspective.

“It builds a lot of mental toughness,” Okafor said. “It’s never smooth and easy all the time. When it’s not, that’s when you find true character. And it’ll turn around.”

• Carla Peay can be reached at cpeay@washingtontimes.com.

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