It’s been an exciting week for the Washington Wizards. In games against Eastern Conference brethren, Washington again flashed some of the potential they have displayed at different points this season and in a home game against the National Basketball Association defending champs showed how far the team has come in just a few short seasons.

Mon. Jan. 13: Wizards Earn Road Win in Chicago 102-88
The Wizards kicked off the week with a road win over the Chicago Bulls on Jan 13. John Wall (19 points, seven assists, four steals) led an attack that held a comfortable lead for most of the night in a 102-88 win. Washington led by double digits during different points in the first half and led by 13 points at the top of the fourth quarter. Chicago whittled the lead down to single digits but consecutive jumpers from Wall and Bradley Beal stretched the lead back out and Washington closed the game in playoff-caliber team fashion.

Wed. Jan. 15: Wall, Wizards Silence King James 114-97
Maybe it was a threatening quote from LeBron James that got the Washington Wizards riled for the Miami Heat on Jan. 15. Or maybe it was the fact that the Verizon Center had been overrun by hordes of Heat fans. Or it simply could’ve been the fact that the game was against the defending champions. But whatever the reason, the Washington Wizards exploded all over the visiting champs, leading by 34 points at one time during the first half. Washington saw that lead chopped down to single digits late in the contest but big plays made down the stretch preserved a 114-97 triumph. Seven players scored in double figures for Washington but the ringleader again was Wall, who paced the club with a team-high 25 points, nine assists and five rebounds.

Fri., Jan. 17: Washington Wins Third Straight 96-93
Topping their win against the Heat was going to be an impossible feat but home-court advantage still needed to be protected in Washington’s next home game against the Bulls on Jan. 17. The Wizards didn’t operate with nearly the same efficiency as they showed against the Heat but even a tapered effort was enough to turn an eight-point deficit into a 96-93 win. Following the beat of their point guard, Wall’s 23 points and 11 assists, helped Washington fight off Chicago just enough to win their third straight.

Sat. Jan. 18: Pistons Still Have Wizards’ Number in 104-96 Win
A Saturday night game against the Detroit Pistons was just a matter of focus and Washington failed to capitalize on a chance to push them above .500 for the first time in years. Wall’s 34 points and six assists was enough to dazzle but an ankle injury zapped the Wizards of the ever-hustling Trevor Booker and Beal shot a woeful 2-of-14 from the field, only making one of his seven attempts from deep. It all added up to a 104-96 defeat to the same team that Washington blew out at the Verizon Center a few weeks ago. Six players scored in double figures for the Pistons, who outrebounded Washington 44-35 in front of their home crowd.

It’s kind of hard to be upset about a 3-1 week that included a signature win over the Miami Heat, but a spoiled chance to go over .500 soured the effort a little. With two home games remaining ahead of a road trip; Washington (19-20) still has a chance to leave D.C. with a winning record, as games against Philadelphia and Boston will keep Washington at home until Jan. 22. With Wall playing unbelievable basketball, the Wizards go into the meat of their schedule with badly needed momentum.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO