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With NBA’s worst D, other issues, Wall’s Wizards start 1-7

Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) goes to the basket against Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Scott Brooks knows he needs to try something to change the way things are going for his Washington Wizards. The problems are so plentiful, the coach just is not quite sure what to do.

All-Star guards John Wall and Bradley Beal lead the Wizards into their game against the visiting New York Knicks on Sunday with a 1-7 record, including 0-3 at home, and five consecutive losses overall.

“Patience is running low from everybody,” Beal said. “We’ve got to do it more collectively. The only way were going to get out of this slump is we’ve got to do it together.”

Their defense already was the worst in the NBA, giving up 122.4 points per game, before allowing even more than that in a 134-111 setback against Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night.

“It just looks like nobody’s on the same page. I mean, like, if one person gets beat or somebody gives up a wide-open shot, nobody is there to help that person or pick that person up. Got to all be on one string,” Wall said. “You can’t teach effort. You can’t teach heart. You’ve got to go out there and compete. That’s just something you’ve got to be born with.”

The transition defense, in particular, is absent.

Washington’s rebounding isn’t much better.

Its second unit — which Brooks often deploys without a starter to lead the way — is slumping and turned a 30-all contest against OKC into a 79-50 blowout by halftime. Turnovers have become a real issue, with Beal and Wall combining for 12 on Friday.

So how will Brooks fix all of that?

“Everything’s open. We have to figure out ways to play better in all the 48 minutes that we’re on the floor, whether it’s going with a smaller rotation or it’s playing other guys. I have to figure it out,” he said. “We can’t just keep watching the same thing over and over and over and expect things are going to change.”

Against the Thunder, the Wizards led by 10 points in the first quarter, but were run off the court in the second, outscored by 24 in that period alone.

“That’s where they killed us,” Wall said. “When we’re not making shots, we don’t defend at a high level.”

The Wizards heard boos from spectators as the Thunder pulled away and piled on.

“We know the fans are getting impatient with it. Ted is probably impatient with it,” Beal said, referring to team owner Ted Leonsis. “So we’ve just got to do it.”

Otherwise, this season is on the verge of spiraling out of control.

Last season, when Wall sat out 41 games because of a bad knee, Washington was the Eastern Conference’s No. 8 seed and lost in the first round of the playoffs to No. 1 seed Toronto. There were questions about chemistry, defense and rebounding.

Team architect Ernie Grunfeld hoped to help those last two areas by adding center Dwight Howard. But Howard wasn’t able to play in a Wizards uniform until Friday after dealing with a sore backside. And while his debut looked promising at the outset — 13 of his 20 points came in the first quarter — the result was the same for the team.

“Dwight,” Brooks noted, “was a bright spot.”

Those have been few and far between lately for the Wizards during what their coach called “a tough patch.”

That might be underselling it.

No one in the NBA has a worse record.

“We can’t keep looking at the negatives, negatives, negatives,” Beal said, “because it’s just going to continue to brainwash us and kill us mentally.”

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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