The Washington Wizards got a dose of reality this week as they squared off against some of the better teams in the Eastern Conference—and the results showed in their record.
Matched up against four of the top eight teams in the conference, Washington saw just how tough life is inside the upper echelon of the East. Wizards guard John Wall continued to operate as a one-man show, with his running mate Bradley Beal still out with a leg injury. Wall was Eastern Conference Player of the Month in December, but appears to be wearing down as the calendar year turns. The AFRO recaps the week that wasn’t for the Washington Wizards.
Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic, center, from Slovenia, attempts to shoot between Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr., left, and Wizards guard John Wall, right, in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Jan. 3: Heat Routs Wizards in Washington, 97-75
Washington opened the week with a home game against the Miami Heat on Jan. 3, but suffered a 97-75 blowout defeat. Washington trailed by just a point after the first quarter before they handed in their worst second quarter of the season. Miami outscored Washington, 25-7, in the second quarter and closed the game out before halftime. Wall scored a team-high 14 points but shot just 6-of-21 from the field, including 1-of-6 from downtown. Miami led by as much as 30 points and thoroughly handled the Wizards on their home floor.
Washington Wizards guard Garrett Temple (17) goes up for a dunk between Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) and center Jonas Valanciunas (17) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, in Washington. The Raptors won 97-88. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Jan. 6: LeBron, Irving Star as Washington Drops Second Straight at Home, 121-115
The Wizards were back in action to host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Jan. 6 in another home game that turned into a showcase for the visiting LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, who handed Washington a 121-115 defeat. The pair combined for 66 points and 15 rebounds to help offset six Wizards who scored in double-figures. Wizards Reserve guard Garrett Temple scored a team-high 21 points, and Wall and Ramon Sessions scored 20 points each, but it wasn’t enough to slow Cleveland’s star power. Washington once again issued a poor second quarter, during which they were outscored 38-24. Washington battled back in the second half as Cleveland led by as much as 18, but couldn’t close the gap.
Washington Wizards’ John Wall, right, tries to get around Orlando Magic’s Victor Oladipo (5) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Jan. 8: Wall’s Performance Topped by DeRozan in 97-88 Washington Loss
Washington took to the Verizon Center floor on Jan. 8 to host the Toronto Raptors, but their short-handed roster once again failed to keep up in a 97-88 loss. Wall paced the team with 21 points, but handed out just four assists as the team’s offense ground to a halt. Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan scored a game-high 35 points and the Raptors rode a strong defensive effort to the win. Washington’s third consecutive home loss completed a 1-3 stretch at the Verizon Center.
Jan. 9: Wizards Get Back on Track with 105-99 Win over Magic
The Wizards have won 11 straight games over the Orlando Magic in a dominant three-year run, and on Jan. 9 they pulled out all the tricks to claim a 105-99 road win. Wall paced the team with 24 points and 10 assists, and six Wizards scored in double-figures as Washington snapped their three-game losing streak despite being outrebounded 37-27. Washington shot over 50 percent from long range and led by as many as 17 points, controlling the game after ending the opening quarter with a 27-17 lead. The Wizards ended the week with a 16-19 record.
Next: Washington will start a busy week by traveling to Chicago on Jan. 11 to face the Bulls before returning to D.C. to host the Milwaukee Bucks on Jan. 13. The Wizards then head to Indiana for a matchup against the Pacers on Jan. 15, followed by a home game against the Boston Celtics on Jan. 17.