The last seven days have proven to be reasonably successful for the Wizards in their mission to become the force they once were in the NBA. Though Washington suffered away losses to Western Conference powerhouses Memphis and San Antonio last Friday and Saturday, respectively, a return home and wins against the LA Clippers and New York Knicks, two division leaders with a combined .673 winning percentage, have sparked life into this young squad.
The key to the Wizards’ recent success has certainly been the re-addition of John Wall, who came back January 12 after missing the first two months of action with a knee injury. Wall’s averaged a whopping 16 points and 8 assists since the loss against the Grizzlies on Feb. 1, but more importantly has made all of his teammates better with his ability to get to the rim, find the open man, and quickly turn his own rebounds into transition buckets.
While yes, all-stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul missed Monday’s game at the Verizon Center with injuries, the Wizards were without their own rookie star, Bradley Beal, who sat out with a sprained wrist. Even still, Washington was able to take advantage of both Griffin and Paul out of the lineup and jumped out to a 24-16 1st-quarter lead. They never looked back, finding numerous ways to compensate for Jamal Crawford’s 28-point scoring outbreak for the opponents and took home the win, 98-90. Martell Webster led the way for the Wizards with 21 points on 6-of-10 shooting and 5-of-6 from three-point range, while Wall added 13 points and eight assists to the content.
The Wizards second win of the week came last night at home against Carmelo Anthony and the surging Knicks. Again without Beal, the Wizards still found a way to win despite trailing by three points after the end of the 3rd quarter. Anthony had a game-high 31 on just 10-of-23 shooting, and while Wall and Webster together pitched in 40 points to help keep the Wizards within striking distance, it was a combination of veteran Trevor Ariza and second-year player Chris Singleton that sealed the win for the home team. Ariza made 5-of-7 three-pointers for Washington in a 20-point effort, while Singleton, a defensive star that hasn’t played much this season for unclear reasons, came off the bench and scored nine of his 10 points in the final period.
As a result of the wins, Washington improves to 13-35 on the year and 8-7 with John Wall in the lineup. However, the record doesn’t tell the whole story, as this is the first time since 1983 the Wizards’ franchise has beaten two teams consecutively that were 15 or more games above .500. Wiz fans indeed have a lot to look forward to, and the team will resume play Friday at 7:00PM EST at home against Deron Williams, former Wizard Andray Blatche, and the rest of the Brooklyn Nets (29-20).