Taj Gibson lit into his Wizards teammates after their third straight loss and they say the message was well received

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The Washington Wizards did not have a fun Halloween this year after suffering a 118-111 loss at home to the Philadelphia 76ers without last season’s MVP candidate Joel Embiid (non-Covid illness). Allowing an 18-2 run to end the third quarter sunk the home team and sent them to a three-game losing streak and a chance for things to spiral early in the season with the defense looking abysmal. Immediately after the loss, veteran center Taj Gibson spoke up as soon as the Wizards players entered the locker room for an impromptu players-only meeting just seven games into the regular season. The message was clear, Washington needed to play for the team on the front of their jersey and the player sitting next to them over the name on the back of their jersey. At least for one game, the message was received by the team loud and clear as Washington rebounded for a 121-111 victory this time in Philadelphia on Wednesday. Most sports teams do not want their internal discussions to get out into the public, but here is what Wes Unseld Jr., Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis, Monte Morris, Daniel Gafford, and Anthony Gill had to say about the 14-year veteran helping get the collective team in line.

Monte Morris after the home loss to the 76ers on Monday:

“Taj spoke up and I think that was a big thing having a vet like that to speak up and say we need to play for what’s on the front of our jersey, not the back. I think everybody opened up their ears, appreciate a vet like that, so much NBA experience speaking up. We’ll see where we go forward from here. The energy is cool, there’s no need to panic like I said. We’ll figure out who we are real soon. Because it don’t stop, we got Philly on Wednesday and another tough game on Friday so it don’t stop, but the way we approach it. Don’t nobody ever going to feel sorry for you in this league. They want to come in here and beat your head off so we got to figure it out.”

Wes Unseld Jr. pre-game before the road win to the 76ers on Wednesday:

“It wasn’t [players only] by design, he did it as soon as they came in. So we hadn’t convened yet as a [coaching] staff and usually meet the group shortly thereafter. Gave them their time, I think he said his piece, it was well received so I think that’s a great sign of leadership. That’s part of the reason he’s with us now.

Kristaps Porzingis after the road win to the 76ers on Wednesday:

“Veteran voice like his, everybody respects him. His message was right. You have to play for the next guy sitting next to you and in the end, we have to have each other’s back. We cannot be focused too much on our own stuff, it’s got to be team effort. That’s exactly what we did tonight and I’m really happy with the result.”

Bradley Beal after the road win to the 76ers on Wednesday:

“It was great. One, he’s a vet, OG in our locker room. Somebody who when he speaks, we listen. What he said was a much-needed message, and I think we came out, responded the right way tonight. Obviously, we still have a lot of things we need to be better at defensively, but our effort for 48 minutes was there so that’s all we can ask for.”

Daniel Gafford at practice on Thursday the day after the win at 76ers:

“It was good, it was good. It was very well-needed too. The back-to-backs we had the Boston and Philly, it was tough. The locker room, it was a bit weird, we was trying to figure things out. Losing games we felt like we shouldn’t have lost. Having somebody come in and say the things Taj said shows we got guys in the locker room that actually care. We got guys in the locker room that’s going to do whatever it takes to uplift the team and motivate us to be able to come out the next game and play way better than we did the night before.”

Anthony Gill at practice on Thursday the day after the win at 76ers:

“He told us we were doing a great job [jokingly]. Taj has been in this league for a long time so he has a lot of knowledge and he knows when teams are slipping and we were getting comfortable at a really early stage, which is not healthy. He got onto us. Let us know we can’t play for the names on our back, it’s got to be about the Wizards, the front of the jersey. I agree wholeheartedly with what he said. He got on to each and every player, which is much needed and we were able to come in the next game and have a good turnaround.”

“I think it was building up. You can see himself sometimes on the sidelines just getting kind of antsy when we’re not doing what we’re supposed to do. It was kind of a build-up. I saw it coming. Actually, he warned one of our coaches that it was about to happen. And then he kind of blew up, rightfully so.

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