With Wall back in the mix, the Washington Wizards have been mixing it up with even the NBA’s best teams. After posting a 3-1 record this week, Washington hasn’t been the pushover they’ve been in years past. Wall made his first start after coming off the bench as he recovered from his knee injury.
Now with a healthy Wall and Nene, the team’s talent is evident as Washington runs into the second half of the season. The AFRO recaps a week that went well.
Jan. 21—Washington 98, Portland 95: This game was all about “the shot” or “The Dagger!!!” as Wizards announcer Steve Buckhantz eloquently put it, as Jordan Crawford’s buzzer-beating three-pointer rained from the rafters into the bottom of the net at the always hostile Portland Rose Garden arena. Washington hung close throughout the game before Crawford’s 30-footer swished in as the buzzer went off. “Dagger!!!” Buckhantz screamed following the feat. Nene led the Wizards with 24 points, nine rebounds, five assists and four steals, and tied Martell Webster with four three pointers each.
Jan. 23—Utah 92, Washington 88: Washington erased a 22-point deficit to pull within two points late in the fourth quarter against Utah. But on the last game of their five-game road trip, Washington just didn’t have enough gas to finish. Utah led most of the night, but extended the lead to 22 points early in the third quarter. Six players from the Jazz scored in double figures while Webster led the team with 15 points. Wall came off the bench to score 14 points and record eight assists. Emeka Okafor hauled in 17 rebounds.
Jan. 25—Washington 114, Minnesota 101: The Wizards made a much-needed return home to the Verizon Center and blitzed the Timberwolves from the start, scoring 60 points in the first half for the first time this season. Six players scored in double figures for Washington, with Crawford leading the team with 19 points. Washington shot 8-of-17 from long range and Wall made his first start of the season, recording 14 points and five assists. Rookie guard Bradley Beal recorded 16 points and four blocks.
Jan. 26—Washington 86, Chicago 73: In a sold out Verizon Center, Washington stunned the 26-17 Bulls with a slugfest. Washington held Chicago to just 40 percent shooting from the field and 26 percent from three-point range. Wall was again efficient, recording 15 points and seven assists. Emeka Okafor hauled in 15 points and 16 rebounds. Chicago appeared a bit weary after playing the night before, but Washington didn’t care and used a 50-31 run over the second and third quarters to put the game out of reach. It was an impressive display for the home fans at the Verizon Center, who gave a standing ovation as the clock ticked away to celebrate a healthy Wizards team.
With Wall and Nene healthy, Washington is rounding into form. Their starters are back and the depth on the team is apparent. With their starters out at the beginning of the season, a lot of players recorded significant time which has paid off. At 11-31, the season isn’t over, and Washington is making a push in the standings.