Wizards

While injuries and uninspiring play have summed up the first half of the Washington Wizards’ 2015-2016 campaign, if Washington is going to go on a second half surge in an attempt to make the playoffs this year then the best time to do so could be the present. The Wizards began January with a 1-3 record but a recent offensive uptick has the Wizards trending in the right direction. Washington has been struggling with injuries and even lost center Marcin Gortat recently to a knee infection. However, the team did open their arms to the return of oft-injured guard Bradley Beal from a stress fracture. His insertion into the rotation, along with some sizzling shooting, served up an excellent week for the Wizards. The AFRO recaps the week that was.

Jan. 11: Wizards’ Toughness Nets 114-100 Win Over Bulls

The Wizards opened up the week with a Monday night road trip against the Chicago Bulls on Jan. 11, and the team extended their recent stretch of success against a team they beat in the playoffs in the 2014 season. An 18-2 second quarter run was the difference for Washington in a 114-100 victory. Washington placed a season-high seven players in double-figures as John Wall’s 17 points and 10 assists paced the evening. It was the Wizards’ toughness on the glass that helped them against the league’s best rebounding team. Chicago held just a 44-43 edge on the glass and the Wizards held their own despite Gortat missing the game and Nene playing with a strained right triceps. Washington used a combination of Nene, DeJuan Blair and Drew Gooden at the center position.

Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) dunks over Milwaukee Bucks forward John Henson during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, in Washington. The Wizards won 106-101. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Jan. 13: Wizards Make Comeback Win Against Bucks

A home game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Jan. 13 set the stage for Beal to return, but it was also a stage exit for third-year forward Otto Porter, who left after halftime with a sore right hip. Still, without Gortat, the Wizards overcame the roster limitations in addition to a blown 19-point lead as Washington edged out a 106-101 win. Beal’s return was his first action since Dec. 9 after missing 16 games. Washington again placed seven players in double-figures but it was the defense that forced 27 turnovers leading to the offensive explosion. Wall paced the club with 19 points and eight assists, and Beal netted 11 points off the bench. Porter scored 10 before leaving in the third quarter.

Jan. 15: Wall Leads Washington to 118-104 Triumph Over Indiana

Washington hit the road on Jan. 15 to take on the Indiana Pacers, and Wall’s big night sparked a 118-104 victory. Wall recorded 28 points, seven rebounds and eight assists and was backed by Beal’s 22 points as Washington placed five scorers in double-figures. Washington used a 35-19 run in the second quarter to extend the lead and they never looked back. The team shot over 50 percent from the field and over 40 percent from long range. It was a bad shooting night for the Pacers and the Wizards took advantage with Gortat, Porter and Kris Humphries still missing from action.

Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) shoots between Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) and forward Jae Crowder (99) in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Jan. 16: Celtics Edge Out Wizards 119-117

Washington returned to the Verizon Center on Saturday night, Jan. 16 to host the Boston Celtics, and it came down to the wire in a 119-117 loss that snapped Washington’s four-game winning streak. Boston’s Jae Crowder scored a layup with :03 remaining to give Boston the final lead. It was a disappointing loss for Washington who received a fantastic game from Wall who recorded 36 points, 13 assists, seven steals and seven rebounds. Six players scored in double-figures for the Wizards but Boston’s offense was very efficient in the final quarter, scoring 36 points while stealing a win on the road.

Washington sits just 19-20 on the season and still finds itself outside the playoff picture as the All-Star break nears. The team is expecting to return several key players to the rotation next week.
Next – The Wizards will host the Portland Trailblazers on Jan. 18, followed by another home game against the Miami Heat on Jan. 20. Washington then closes out the week with a Jan. 23 home game against the Utah Jazz.