The New Year isn’t starting off so well for the Washington Wizards. Aside from losing their last two home games, the Wizards overcame a fourth quarter deficit to stun the Detroit Pistons on Monday to break even at .500 at year-end. But with a renewed focus on improving their standing in the Eastern Conference and making the playoffs, Washington unfortunately stumbled out the gate to begin 2014.

Mon. Dec. 30: Wizards Win on the Road, defeating Pistons 106-99
John Wall scored 29 points and hit an array of difficult shots on the way to Washington’s 106-99 road win against the Pistons on Dec. 30. Wall hit a bank shot off the glass and a pump fake then jumper to ice the Pistons in a huge fourth quarter. If Wall was searching for a signature game to vault him into the NBA All Star game then this was it. Washington outscored Detroit 28-12 in the final period to cap a weekend sweep of the Pistons, who Washington beat thoroughly two days prior.

Wed. Jan. 1: Cold Shooting Blocks a Chance to Break .500; Mavericks Win 87-78
A New Year’s Day game against the Dallas Mavericks was a chance for Washington to get over .500 for the first time in years but a cold shooting night destroyed the Wizards’ offense as they fell 87-78. Washington’s lack of effective shooting destroyed the Wizards’ offense as they fell 87-78. Washington shot 37 percent from the field and 20 percent from deep. For a team that’s made most of its money from long range this season, shooting 20 percent simply put the offense out of whack. Wall scored a team-high 22 points while hauling in seven rebounds but his seven turnovers was a sign of the team’s ineptitude. The normally reliable deep-shooting trio of Bradley Beal, Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza combined to shoot 4-of-18 from long range.

Fri. Jan. 3: Toronto Overcomes Wizards 101-88
Washington knew Friday’s game against the Toronto Raptors was going to be difficult, considering Toronto entered the contest as winners of eight of their last 10 games and had just come off an impressive home win against the Indiana Pacers. Toronto dished out a season-high 29 assists while the Wizards’ inept offense carried over as Washington lost 101-88. Five players scored in double figures for Toronto while Washington was led by a team-high 15 points from Nene.

The Wizards will play better. Losing their last two games would normally be a signs of things to come in other years. But the way the team has shot the ball the last two games has been an anomaly considering how they’ve been shooting all season long. Wall is coming into his own and both Nene and Beal are working their way back into the flow of the game after sitting with injuries. A Sun. Jan. 5 game against the Golden State Warriors will definitely be a challenge for the 14-16 Wizards.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO