The lack of a backup point guard has dragged Washington’s offense down all season—All-Star point guard John Wall has been a staple for the offense, but the points start to drop when Wall starts to rest.
Garrett Temple provided an adequate job as the first combo guard off the bench, but Washington needed to make a move to shore up the position. They did so just before the NBA’s trade deadline on Feb. 20, acquiring 37-year-old journeyman point guard Andre Miller by sending 2011 lottery pick Jan Vesely to Denver and a future second-round pick to Philadelphia. The price was small, but the prize was priceless as Miller will bring stability to the offense when Wall sits. Miller’s arrival was just one victory as Washington went 2-1 following the All-Star break.
Tues., Feb. 18: Wizards Start Week Off with Loss to Toronto, 103-93
The week got off to a rocky start with a 103-93 home loss to the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night, a head-scratcher for a team promising to pick up their play in the second half of the season. Washington didn’t follow up on the promise, as they found themselves down by 19 points late in the fourth quarter before rallying to cut the lead to six with less than a minute remaining.
The Raptors were physical and quick to loose balls and played with energy that Washington simply couldn’t match until they got desperate down the stretch. Wall led the charge with 22 points and seven rebounds, while Marcin Gortat added 18 points and 11 rebounds. Washington out-rebounded Toronto 40-25, but the Raptors shot nearly 57 percent from the field and nearly 44 percent from beyond the arc. Washington’s offense was stuck in neutral until a questionable foul was called on the Wizards and coach Randy Wittman was ejected for arguing the call.
Wed., Feb. 19: Washington Recovers to Defeat Atlanta, 114-97
Washington bounced back the following night on the road against Atlanta with a 114-97 victory. The Wizards jumped out to a 20-point first half lead, but the Hawks trimmed Washington’s advantage to one point in the third quarter. The Wizards pushed back late in the quarter with three-pointers from Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza. Ariza launched a successful 70-foot heave as the quarter expired to give Washington an eight-point lead going into the final stanza.
Seven players scored in double figures for the Wizards, including Wall, who recorded 21 points, 12 assists and five rebounds, and Ariza who nailed five three-pointers and finished with 19 points. Ariza wasn’t the only Wizard who was hot from deep, as the team shot 13-of-24 from three-point range.
Sat., Feb. 22: Wizards Claim Big Win over Pelicans, 94-93The Wizards executed the trade for Miller on Thursday and saw him suit up for Saturday’s home stand against the New Orleans Pelicans. Miller recorded just five points and three assists, but his presence and poise helped stabilize the second unit as two starters helped edge New Orleans, 94-93, in a wild finish.
Washington trailed by a point with seconds left in the game, but Wall drove inside and found Nene (30 points) wide open for a dunk at the buzzer, sending the Verizon Center into a frenzy as Washington recorded their second straight victory. It wasn’t the most efficient game for Washington, as the team shot just 21 percent from the field, but they found a way to win the game and improve their record to 27-28.