The Washington Wizards didn’t just end the week on a high note—they ended the month with their most wins in nearly 30 years.
The Wizards completed November with eight wins, their most since 1984. Perhaps even more impressive than the wins was the fact that Washington operated without rising star shooting guard Bradley Beal, who will miss the next few weeks while nursing a stress injury in his leg. The injured Beal joins rookie Otto Porter Jr., Al Harrington and even Nene, who missed a contest this past week with a sore Achilles. How did they do it? One name: John Wall. The fourth-year guard announced on Twitter earlier in the week that he was the best point guard in the league, and while that statement may not have met with widespread agreement, Wall definitely raised some eyebrows with his subsequent play.
Nov.26—Wizards’ Big Win Over Lakers 116-111
A 116-111 home win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 26 might have been the team’s most exciting game this season. The two squads battled back and forth, but a 360-degree dunk from Wall gave Washington the win. Wall’s 31 points, nine assists and six rebounds paced the home team while Nene’s 30 points backed him up. Seven players scored in double figures for the Lakers, who lead the league in bench scoring. Minus Kobe Bryant, the Lakers played a competitive game and even brought a throng of fans with them to battle the D.C. crowd. But they could not overcome too much Wall and too many timely plays from the Wizards, who welcomed back Trevor Ariza from a hamstring injury in the same day that the team announced Beal would be out.
Nov. 27—Washington Outlasts Milwaukee in OT 100-92
A disaster nearly followed the next night in Milwaukee as Washington avoided losing to the worst team in the Eastern Conference with a 100-92 overtime win. Milwaukee out-rebounded Washington 44-34, but thanks to a strong effort from Marcin Gortat (25 points, eight rebounds, two blocks) and a clutch three-pointer from Martell Webster (18 points) with less than a minute left, Washington evened the score before the end of regulation and held the home team to 2-of-8 shooting in the overtime to seal the victory.
Nov. 29—Washington Outrebounded by Pacers in Losing Effort 93-73
The announcement that Nene would miss the Nov. 29 game against the Indiana Pacers zapped the Wizards of additional firepower they would need against the Pacers, the best team in the league with a record of 16-1. Nene’s absence also shorted them an extra big body, a loss which came back to haunt them as Indiana out-rebounded Washington 49-37 and 10 of the 12 players who received playing time for Indiana hauled in a rebound. Wall had his worst game of the week with only eight points on 4-of-14 shooting, and the team left Bankers Life Fieldhouse with a 93-73 defeat.
Nov. 30—Wizards Defeat Atlanta 108-101
Nene was back in the lineup the very next night however as Washington traveled back home to knock off Atlanta in perhaps Wall’s best game of the season. The self-proclaimed “best point guard in the league” lived up to his proclamation, lighting up the Hawks with 26 points, 12 assists, six rebounds and five steals. Wall’s A-game brought out big contributions from Ariza and Webster, who combined for 10 three-pointers. Even Nene chipped in 13 points and 12 rebounds.
At 8-9, Washington presently occupies fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings. But Atlanta, who Washington most recently defeated, sits third in the East—giving Washington a clear chance of moving up in the standings as the team gets healthier. With Beal, Harrington, Porter and even Nene still dinged up, the Wizards could get a whole lot better by the end of December. The team is simply playing good basketball right now and it shows in the standings. The Wizards will face the Orlando Magic on Dec. 2.