Just as they appeared to be getting hot at the right time, the Washington Wizards took a major step back with their performance this week. The Wizards won four straight games to close out the prior week and even started with another victory early in the week before things went south. With only 10 games remaining in the regular season, the Wizards are running out of time to try to qualify for this year’s postseason. The team has shown promise at times with a reconfigured roster centered on John Wall, Bradley Beal and the newly-acquired Markieff Morris, but the defensive lapses and bouts of sluggish offense still continue to haunt the team. The roster has a new speedy look to it, but the team might not get a chance to expose it once the regular season ends. The AFRO recaps the week that was for the Washington Wizards.
Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) shoots between Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap (4) and center Al Horford (15) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, March 23, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
March 21: Wizards Swoop to Victory Over Hawks, 117-102
The Wizards opened the week on the road against the Atlanta Hawks on March 21 and rode their starters to a big 117-102 win. Washington’s starters scored 97 points of the team’s final output and they were clicking on every angle. Paced by Wall’s 27 points and 14 assists and Beal’s 25 points and 5-of-6 shooting from deep, the Wizards were able to keep pace with the normally efficient Hawks before taking them down. Washington outscored Atlanta 28-16 in the final quarter to ice the game, using their new-look roster to their advantage. Morris’ matchup against Atlanta’s Paul Millsap was critical. Millsap (13 points, two rebounds) has hurt the Wizards in previous matchups with his length and quickness, but Morris (14 points, seven rebounds) was able to counter, giving the road team the edge.
Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. (22) works to get the rebound between Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap (4) and guard Kyle Korver (26) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, March 23, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
March 23: Hawks Recoup from Earlier Loss in 122-101 Win Over Wizards
Washington returned home to host the Hawks on March 23 in the second part of their home-and-home series with Atlanta. While Washington’s starting five powered them to a win a few days prior, it was Atlanta’s bench that steered the way in a 122-101 victory in the second stanza. The Hawks reserve backcourt of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Dennis Schroder combined for 39 of the bench’s 66 points. Washington’s starters only scored 61 points in a major role reversal from the prior night. Morris led Washington’s starters with 19 points and nine rebounds and Marcus Thornton scored 23 points off the bench and knocked down 5-of-10 from long range. The Wizards had a four-point lead at halftime before Atlanta blitzed them in the second half, outscoring Washington by 25 points in the final two quarters.
March 25: Timberwolves Prevail in Frustrating Double Overtime Loss for Wizards
Washington Wizards center Nene, left, drives to get past Minnesota Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng during the first overtime of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 25, 2016, in Washington. The Timberwolves won 132-129 in double overtime. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
A Friday night home game against the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves (24-49) on March 25 was probably taken too lightly by the Wizards and it came back to bite them in a frustrating 132-129 double overtime loss. After sizzling in the opening minutes, Morris left the game with cramps after recording seven points and three rebounds in nine minutes of action. Morris’ absence left a hole in the lineup just as he was becoming more acclimated to the offense. Wall and Beal totaled 48 points between them and shot 7-of-14 from deep but it wasn’t enough to shake off a pesky ‘Wolves team. Washington failed to capitalize on a late lead in regulation and another lead in the first overtime. Minnesota’s Zach LaVine (25 points) nailed back-to-back three pointers to tie the game before the end of the regulation. Minnesota used that momentum to carry them to a critical finish.
Next: Washington returns to action on March 27 against the Los Angeles Clippers.