After seeing Nene struggle to lift his arm in the final quarter of their game against the Toronto Raptors, the Washington Wizards knew they may be in for a few contests without their best inside presence. There isn't a plethora of stars on the 18-39 Wizards so any shortage of players can be a major wrench in the team's offensive plans. Against New York and Detroit, Washington needed all the help they could get. The AFRO recaps a disappointing week for the Washington Wizards.
Feb. 25-Wizards 90, Toronto Raptors 84- Nene scored nine fourth-quarter points and the visiting Wizards received a huge boost from prized rookie guard Bradley Beal (20 points) to avenge last week's loss to the Toronto Raptors. Beal was steady throughout the night along with reserve point guard A.J. Price, who scored 12 points off the bench. Price outscored starting guard John Wall (10 points) who struggled for most of the night with his shot but was helped out by his teammates who contributed to shoot 58 percent from downtown as Washington connected on seven three-pointers. Five Wizards scored in double figures.
Feb. 27- Wizards 95, Detroit Pistons 96- Reserve swingman Trevor Ariza nearly singlehandedly erased a late deficit and won the game for Washington but his three-pointer at the buzzer hit all net and no rim in a crushing home loss. Ariza scored a team-high 22 points but saved his best with Washington down by 11 points and needing a miracle with less than a minute left. Ariza's two three-pointers and two free throws helped the Wizards cut the score to 96-95 with a chance to win the game with 12 seconds left in the game. Swingman Martell Webster found Ariza in the corner in his favorite shooting spot but his three only tickled the bottom of the net without even sniffing the basket. Wizards cable announcers mistakenly thought Ariza made the shot but had to embarrassingly retract their jubilation. Detroit swept their season series with Washington 4-0.
March 1-Wizards 88, New York Knicks 96-Forward Carmelo Anthony and the traveling Knicks brought their high wire act and a pack of rowdy Knicks fans with them to the Verizon Center and put on a show. The absence of Center Nene really hurt Washington as it seemed as if every time the Wizards got within striking distance to take a lead they couldn't find a go-to scorer to get them a crucial basket. Beal scored 29 points and hauled in 11 rebounds but New York clamped down defensively on the home team, limiting Washington to just 11 points in the final stanza. Anthony (game-high 30 points) seemingly made every big shot that a superstar scorer is supposed to make in tight games. With Nene out and Wall struggling, Washington simply couldn't find easy baskets when they most needed them.
Wall continued to struggle under a current two-week slump. The 2010 No. 1 draft pick has averaged just over 11 points on 37 percent shooting in his last five games while turning the ball over 4.6 times a contest in that stretch. The performance hasn't been up to standard but Wall's body language has also taken criticism as the starting point guard has often appeared out of it and withdrawn in games in which he's struggling and reserve lead guard Price is thriving.