They don’t have a separate column for good-effort games in the NBA, just wins and losses. And while the Washington Wizards finished 1-3 during the week of Nov. 22 to drop their overall record to 5-10, fourth in the Southeast Division, the energy the team displayed during the week deserves some kudos.

The Wizards opened the latest stretch by dropping a hard-fought game to the Detroit Pistons in overtime on Nov. 21, 115-110. Several players turned in outstanding statistical performances, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Pistons.

With starting point man John Wall sidelined with a foot injury, Gilbert Arenas dished out a career-high 16 assists, JaVale McGee added 20 points and 16 rebounds and reserve guard Nick Young scored 18 off the bench. The effort was good, the team’s energy was high, and the opponents were only so-so, but it still led to another loss on the Wiz’s early season resume.

The Wizards, and Wall, returned for a home game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Nov. 23, but things didn’t start off so well. The Wizards trailed for most of the game until a second half surge sparked them to a 116-114 overtime victory.

After scoring 38 points in the first half, Washington caught fire in the second, exploding for 78 points over the final two quarters and overtime. Headlined by Wall’s 25 second-half points, the Wiz stormed back to tie the game after Wall converted three free throws after being fouled on desperation attempt with Washington trailing 106-103 in the game’s waning moments. McGee added his second consecutive monster game with 24 points, 18 rebounds, two steals and four blocked shots while Young poured in 19 off the bench.

The turkey may have been to blame in Washington’s Thanksgiving Day road loss to the Atlanta Hawks. The Wizards trailed 53-36 at halftime as the Hawks went on to win, 116-96. Washington shot just 38 percent from the field and connected on only 23 percent of its three pointers. McGee fell back down to earth with only seven points and 10 rebounds, and Wall couldn’t follow up his previous game’s performance, scoring only 10 points on 3-of-12 shooting. Young did chip in his third impressive game of the week however, adding 20 points off the bench.

A sold-out Verizon Center awaited the visiting Orlando Magic on Nov. 27 as the Wizards returned home to slug it out with the division’s top team. Wall missed the game with a bruised right knee but, as he’s done each time in the star rookie’s absence, Arenas filled in well as the team’s go-to scorer and showed shades of his former superstar talent. Arenas lead Washington with 31 points and five assists but his last second shot bounced hard off the glass as the Magic escaped with a 100-99 win, snapping Washington’s three-game home winning streak.

“I tried to float it up a little bit and it was a little too hard,” Arenas said after the game. “I thought it was going to go in, worst case scenario I would bank it in, and then I would come in here and say, ‘I made the bank-in.”

Young continued his Sixth Man of the Year campaign with another strong performance, scoring 21 points off the bench. The fourth-year swingman from USC is performing up to expectations this season as the team’s designated sniper off the bench, a role he knows he’s suited for.

“I’m just going out there with confidence,” Young said. “My teammates believe in me, my coaches believe in me and I believe in me more than anything. I’m just going out there tonight and playing my game.”

Washington will travel to play the Miami Heat on Nov. 29.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO