Basketball is becoming exciting again in the District; four straight wins will normally do that. Washington’s return to respectability is flowing strong, despite a disappointing loss to the Detroit Pistons before the NBA’s All Star break. With guard Bradley Beal healthy again, the Wizards will have their full roster as they step into the second half of the season. And as Washington has shown, a healthy roster makes a difference. The AFRO recaps the week that was for the Washington Wizards:

Feb. 11– Wizards 102, Milwaukee Bucks  90The Bucks are in contention for the playoffs but the way Washington played against them, you would think the Wizards were in the running as well. Beal came off the bench to score a career-high 28 points and Washington turned an early 10-point deficit into a 12-point win, schooling Milwaukee at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Wizards Center Nene chipped in 21 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and two steals and guard John Wall added 14 points and 10 assists as Washington knocked off another playoff challenger. But it was Beal who stole the show, nailing four three pointer and putting on a shooting clinic that was superb for the 19-year old.

Feb. 13- Wizards 85, Detroit Pistons 96–  For everything they did right against Milwaukee, Washington tried to follow it up in a trip to noisy Detroit but couldn’t finish as they scored just 17 points in the final period with Detroit feeding off the home court advantage. Forward Emeka Okafor led the way with 20 points and nine rebounds but didn’t play many minutes in a pivotal fourth quarter that proved disastrous for the visiting Wizards. Will Bynum and Jose Calderon combined to pilot the Pistons point guard position for 44 points and 11 assists and Detroit killed Washington on the glass 48-32. Washington held a 68-65 lead entering the fourth quarter but just couldn’t gain much traction after that.

Washington will return from the break with three straight home games kindly awaiting them in the friendly confines of the Verizon Center. Washington actually plays their next 14 games at home so if a playoff push is still in the cards for the 15-36 Wizards, an excellent opportunity is approaching.

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO