A three-game home stand against the Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets awaited the Washington Wizards inside the Verizon Center in the first week of February. But the Wizards didn’t even flinch at a trio of heavy weights, knocking down the visitors one by one.
Both Chris Singleton and Bradley Beal returned to the rotation, sparking a well-balanced attack that helped the Wizards win three straight.
Feb. 4—Washington 98, Los Angeles Clippers 90: With Chris Paul already sidelined with a knee injury, it didn't help the traveling Clippers when Blake Griffin tweaked his hamstring in warmups, sidelining the 2009 No. 1 overall pick. In the stars' absences, John Wall, the top pick in 2010, and the rest of the Wizards used a short 5-0 run late in the fourth quarter to seize a comfortable lead. Five players scored in double figures for Washington and Emeka Okafor finished with nine points and 15 rebounds. Washington tied Los Angeles rebounds (44-44) which allowed reserve forward Martell Webster's five three pointers to decide the game.
Feb. 6—Washington 106, New York 96: The Knicks came into town with a full roster and the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. But Washington used 11 three pointers, including five each from Webster and Trevor Ariza, to spark an upset in front of an arena divided between Wizards and packs of Knicks fans. Wall (21 points, nine assists), Ariza (20 points) and Webster (19) made sure the home crowd left with something to brag about. Six Wizards scored in double figures and the home team outscored the Knicks 36-23 in the final quarter with Wall leading the way with 10 points in that quarter. With the win, Washington snapped a 10-game losing streak against the Knicks.
Feb. 8—Washington 89 vs. Brooklyn Nets, 74: With the Clippers and Knicks both beaten and behind them, Washington stormed into the final game of the home stand against Brooklyn, landing early punches that translated into a 51-31 halftime lead. From there, all that Nene (20 points, 11 rebounds) and Wall (15 points, nine assists) had to do was hang on and coast to a lopsided victory. Washington locked the Nets down defensively, holding them to 32 percent from the field and 27 percent from long range. Washington seized the game in the second quarter, highlighted by a 22-2 run and an 11-point, 4-of-22 shooting performance by Brooklyn.
Washington (14-35) still doesn't have the record to show for it, but they've been playing superb basketball the past few weeks, shedding the label of worst team in the league. They have beaten five of the six leaders of the NBA’s divisions and are rounding into a team that has the look of an obvious contender next season. Though a playoff run is unlikely thanks to the early slump, the Wizards are 10-7 over their last 17 games and have gone 8-1 in their last nine home games.
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