Jordan Crawford has led the Wizards to the league lead in moral victories with excellent shooting in key MV moments. Getty Images
The Washington Wizards ran their moral victory (MV) record to 6-1 against the Dallas Mavericks last night, rallying from a 22-point deficit before completing the MV, 107-101. Washington's ferocious comeback cut the Mavericks lead to just three points, securing the Wizards position atop the NBA MV standings.
The lone MV blemish on Washington's record is their 92-76 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats, a team that earned the lowest winning percentage in league history last season. The Wizards fell behind early in that contest and were unable to summon the will to grind out the MV.
From the season-opening game, Washington established itself as one of the NBA's moral victory powerhouses:
Cleveland -- down 12 after three quarters, the Wizards roared back to take a 2-point lead before securing the MV by having 10 fewer points than their opponent.
Boston #1 -- Washington found itself behind 12 early in the 4th quarter, but clinched its MV by clawing back to tie the game with just three minutes remaining. Boston finished the game with 5 more points than the Wizards were able to compile.
Boston #2 -- The Celtics opened the game with a 9-0 run, but the Wizards surged to a 9-point first half lead. The Wiz fell behind in the 2nd half -- trailing by as much as 8 points before earning the MV by fighting back, taking a lead late in the game and forcing overtime. When the final buzzer sounded, Washington had fewer points.
Milwaukee -- The Wizards threatened to end its MV by opening the game with a 12-0 run. The Bucks soon came back to build a solid lead, however. Washington earned its fourth consecutive MV with a 14-2 run in the 2nd half that sliced Milwaukee's lead to just one point. The Bucks finished the game with 101 points compared to Washington's 89.
Indiana -- Washington earned its fifth MV in a row with a sustained effort through three quarters. The Wizards had fought their way to a 5-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but secured the MV with a 0-10 run. The Pacers outscored Washington for the game, 89-85.
Dallas -- As mentioned in the lede, Washington staked the Mavericks to a 22-point second half lead before securing their league-leading sixth MV with a strong comeback.
The team's MV total is largely because of the superb shooting of four players during key moral victory situations (second half, team trailing by four or more points):
Jordan Crawford -- 13-26 from the floor; 4-10 from three-point range.
Kevin Seraphin -- 11-22 from the floor.
Cartier Martin -- 8-12 from the floor, 4-5 from three-point range
Trevor Booker -- 6-10 from the floor
Even a team as successful as the Wizards has players who may be hurting the team's ability to generate MVs. These players include -- AJ Price (8-26 from the floor in MV situations); Bradley Beal (7-26), Emeka Okafor (6-15), Trevor Ariza (4-16), Jannero Pargo (4-13), Chris Singleton (4-11), and Martell Webster (3-13).
Washington must get more contributions from these players in MV situations -- it's a lot to ask of Crawford and Seraphin to continue carrying the team to such lofty MV heights. Beal may struggle for a time in MV situations given his youth and inexperience. The Wizards should expect stronger MV contributions going forward from stalwart veterans like Okafor and Ariza.
General manager Ernie Grunfeld could help the team expand its MV lead by finding another veteran point guard to replace Price, who sprained an ankle against Dallas. Head coach Randy Wittman could also give Crawford expanded playing time, which could help the Wizards secure MVs earlier in games.
The Wizards next opportunity for a moral victory comes Saturday night when they'll host the Utah Jazz.