The Washington Wizards are still trying to get readjusted to life without Bradley Beal (stress reaction) and Nenê (calf) and this week the team had to deal with more injuries. With the team’s defense still getting acclimated to the new up-tempo scheme, the Wizards can’t afford to lose any offensive stars, especially players at the top of their rotation. The Wizards continue to lose ground inside both the divisional and conference standings, ranking last in the Southeastern Division and 12th in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards haven’t put a consistent stretch together at all this season and they’re quickly on the way to a lottery selection in next June’s draft. It was another rough week for the Wizards and the AFRO recaps the week that wasn’t.
Washington Wizards guard Gary Neal, center, drives between Memphis Grizzlies guards Courtney Lee, left, and Mike Conley, right, in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
Dec. 14: Grizzlies Devour Wizards, 112-95
Washington opened the week with a road visit against the Memphis Grizzlies on Dec. 14 but failed once again to bring their defensive intensity in a 112-95 shellacking. Reserve guard Gary Neal scored a team-high 24 points but Washington was outscored by 22 points through the first three quarters and never led after Garrett Temple’s jump shot made it 15-14 with 5:27 left in the first quarter. Six players scored in double figures for Memphis while John Wall struggled, shooting 2-for-11 for a six-point night. Memphis shot an uncanny 66 percent from long range, nailing 10-of-15.
Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) drives to the basket over San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili (20) and San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Dec. 16: San Antonio Dominates Washington, 114-95
The Wizards returned to action on Wednesday night, Dec. 16 with a visit to San Antonio. The Wizards started out strong and held after the first quarter, but the Spurs took control shortly thereafter in a 114-95 victory. San Antonio outscored Washington by 20 points between the second and third quarter and led by as much as 22 points. Both Wall (20 points, 11 assists) and Marcin Gortat (20 points, 10 rebounds) each had double-doubles for the Wizards, but the Spurs placed five players in double-figure scoring and took complete advantage of a depleted Wizards roster.
Charlotte Hornets guard Nicolas Batum (5), left, and guard Kemba Walker (15), pursue Washington Wizards guard Garrett Temple (17), after a stray ball in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Washington on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015. The Wizards won 109-101. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Dec. 19: Wizards Conjure 109-101 Win Against Hornets Despite Depleted Roster
The short-handed Wizards returned to the Verizon Center on Saturday night, Dec. 19 and put together a scrappy performance against the Charlotte Hornets in a 109-101 win. Washington got the victory despite being out-rebounded 51-38 and blowing a 15-point fourth quarter lead thanks to a big night from Wall. The fifth-year guard out of Kentucky scored a game-high 27 points while adding 12 assists, four rebounds and three steals. Garrett Temple, filling in as Beal’s replacement, added 21 points, five rebounds and three assists and did his best Beal impersonation. The stellar guard play made up for Charlotte’s huge rebounding advantage. With Otto Porter (thigh bruise) sitting the contest out, Washington was down to just Gortat and Kris Humphries as their only two players listed above 6-foot-8 in their normal rotation. Charlotte took advantage and used an 18-5 edge in offensive rebounds to keep the game close for much of the night.
The win against Charlotte improved Washington to 11-14 on the season but the team still has significant ground to make up. With several key players still nursing injuries, the Wizards are going to have to continue to lean on the “small-ball” approach that earned them a win against the Hornets. Wall’s been exceptional and the team is clearly leaning on him to push them through some tough times right now.
Next – Washington will return to action on Dec. 21 in a home game against the Sacramento Kings. They also face the Grizzlies with hopes of revenge in another home game on Dec. 23. They end the week on the road at Brooklyn with a game against the Nets on Saturday, Dec. 26.