When Jan Vesely is forced to play 18 minutes of a game and the Wizards still win by double digits, you know something’s got to be going right.
Last night, indeed the improbable dream came true. In a game where coach Randy Wittman’s squad was limited to just eight players, the Wizards still took home a victory, defeating the Memphis Grizzlies 107-94 Monday at the Verizon Center. With the win, Washington extends its home winning streak to six games and is now tied for 10th in the East, a reasonable 8.5 games out of the final playoff spot.
Without question, John Wall was the star of the show, knocking down 13-of-22 shots en route to a career-high 47 points to go along with eight assists and seven rebounds in the contest. The Grizzlies simply had no answer for Wall, who was forced to play in all but three minutes of the game due to injuries to rookie standout Bradley Beal as well as back-court players Martell Webster, A.J. Price, and Trevor Ariza. It was clear that after a 26-point first half, the Kentucky product was bound to have a tremendous outing following a game against Golden State in which he was ejected.
While the Miami Heat might be currently soaking up all the attention across the league, these last few games have proven that the Wizards are indeed for real. Wall has found his long-lost mid-range game, and as a result was dutifully recognized last week with Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors. March totals to date of 19.8 points per game and 8.0 assists per game should hardly go unnoticed.
With continued success, it’s clear that Wittman could possibly even retain his coaching job at the end of the season. Newcomers Beal and Webster have displayed flashes of stardom, and with Emeka Okafor even upping his rebounding numbers in recent months, anything is possible for this very young squad overall.
All in all, the Wizards might still be a relative long-shot to make the playoffs, but nevertheless this has been a tremendous second half of the season for the team. After dropping 47 on a postseason-bound squad in Memphis, Wall’s confidence should be sky-high going forward.
Look for more improvements Wednesday if a few day-to-day starters return when Washington takes on Kevin Durant and co. in Oklahoma City.