It was a short week for the Washington Wizards, and three games in seven days with Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off gave the team some extra pep in their step. Matchups against Cleveland star Kyrie Irving and a tough Chicago Bulls defense highlighted the week, which saw Washington go 1-2. But for the lowly Wizards any week involving a win is a good one.
Dec. 26—Cleveland 87, Washington 84: Fans at the Verizon Center cheered and screamed for the action on the court—unfortunately, those cheers were rarely for the Wizards. Instead, the fans got a show from Cavaliers sophomore guard Kyrie Irving, who doused the Wiz with 26 points, eight assists, two steals and six rebounds. With John Wall still shelved with a knee injury, Washington was helpless against the athletic point guard. Still, the game stayed close for most of the night with Washington big men Nene and Emeka Okafor combining for 33 points, six blocks and 17 rebounds. But a well-spread Cleveland attack kept Washington off-balance. Washington reserve guard Jordan Crawford netted 17 points to go with three rebounds.
Dec. 28—Washington 105, Orlando: Another home game brought another close contest for the fans at Verizon Center, and a rare victory for the Wizards. Paced by Nene’s 23 points and 11 rebounds and Crawford’s 27 points, six assists and six rebounds, Washington erased a 17-point first half deficit before storming back to take a 54-51 halftime lead. Washington led the rest of the way, breaking an eight-game losing streak.
Dec. 29—Chicago 87, Washington 77: The Chicago Bulls are known for tough defense, and the Wizards got a firsthand look. Chicago welcomed back Luol Deng and Richard Hamilton from injury and held Washington to just 36 percent shooting from the floor. Rookie guard Bradley Beal led Washington with 14 points, who were without the services of Jordan Crawford due to an ankle injury. The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Bulls, and sent Washington to a NBA-worst 4-24.
With that loss, woeful Washington continues to search for answers in a rapidly dimming season. Nene appears to be back to full strength after an early season bout with a foot injury, and Crawford has been impressive over the last few weeks. Beal has struggled, but the rookie has shown promise. The season is clearly over for Washington, and it’s basically audition time to see who stays on the roster for next season, and who goes.