The Washington Wizards turned in their best four-game stretch of the season this week—and all it took was a tongue-lashing from their star guard.

John Wall issued some strong statements in the middle of the week after the team’s loss to the Orlando Magic, challenging his teammates’ effort and priorities.

Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) dribbles against Milwaukee Bucks guard Matthew Dellavedova, of Australia, (8) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

“Our job is to wake up and just play hard,” Wall told reporters after the game. “Before you made it to the NBA or got a college scholarship, you played hard every day to get to where you wanted. To still be talking about playing hard, that’s something that you should be able to do after just waking up.”

Angry superstar aside, it was a solid week for the Washington Wizards—the AFRO recaps the week that was.

Dec. 5: Offense Leads Wizards over Nets, 118-113

Washington hit the road to open the week against the Brooklyn Nets on Dec. 5. The Wizards’ defense has been problematic all season, but Washington used an explosive offense to knock off the Nets, 118-113. Wall tallied 25 points, three steals and 13 assists, leading an efficient Wizards attack that saw seven players score in double-figures. Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr. scored 18 points each. Beal and Wall scored eight straight points for Washington late in the fourth to give the team enough cushion to protect the road win, its fourth straight over Brooklyn.

Dec. 6: Home Loss to Orlando, 124-116, Sets Off Wall

The Wizards returned home for a matchup against Orlando on Dec. 6 and a deflating 124-116 loss that sparked Wall’s comments about the team’s efforts. The game marked a career-high 52-point night for Wall, and his words were directly heard. Despite the 26-year-old guard’s efforts, the Wizards couldn’t stop the Magic (7-13) from scoring. Washington allowed 71 points over the second and third quarters, forcing the home team to play catch-up for most of the night. Beal added 19 points and Marcin Gortat hauled in 11 rebounds.

Dec. 8: Washington Wakes Up for 92-85 Win over Denver

Washington’s home game against the Denver Nuggets on Dec. 8 wasn’t pre-labeled as a “must-win,” but after the team’s defeat to the lowly Magic, it definitely had that feel. The Wizards responded after a slow start to slide past Denver 92-85—but did so in front of perhaps the most sparsely-attended game this season at the Verizon Center. The home attendance was reported at 12,645 in a venue that can seat 20,173 for NBA games. A brutally silent crowd added little support for the Wizards, but Beal paced the team with 26 points while Wall followed up a career-best night with just 15 points.

Dec. 10: Wall, Beal Secure Win over Bucks, 110-105

The Wizards closed out the week with another home game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 10, and big contributions from Wall and Beal helped close a 110-105 win over a strong road team. Wall recorded 24 points and 11 assists, while Beal added 20 points and six assists. Sophomore forward Kelly Oubre supplied a career night, recording 19 points and nine rebounds. A 16-3 run in the third quarter and a late fourth quarter 11-0 run were key for the Wizards, who forced 20 Milwaukee turnovers.

Next: Washington (9-13) will travel to face the Miami Heat on Dec. 12.  

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO