After dropping four straight on the backs of a depleted roster, the Washington Wizards got some good fortune and some horses back as both guard Bradley Beal and center Nene returned to the rotation this past week. The return of two of the most important pieces in the Wizards’ puzzle breathed life into an overworked roster and fueled a three-game winning streak that sent Washington into a five-day break before their next game.

Monday, Dec. 16: Beal’s Returns Marks 102-101 Victory over Knicks
Washington kicked the week off with some good news and some good basketball as word broke Dec. 16 that Beal would return for the night’s road visit to the New York Knick. But Beal did more than return, he dominated. The sophomore shooting guard was second on the team behind swingman Martell Webster’s 30 points in scoring as he added in 21 of his own and capped the game with a one-on-one layup to give the visitors a 102-101 victory. He shot 3-of-5 from long range and added in seven rebounds as Washington survived forward Carmelo Anthony’s 32 points to snap a four-game skid.

Wednesday, Dec. 18: Nene Returns for 113-107 Win over Nets
Washington followed up Beal’s return with the welcoming of Nene back to lineup in a 113-107 win. Eight players scored in double figures for the Wizards but no player was as instrumental as Nene who scored 17 points in just 23 minutes. Guard John Wall led the team with 21 points and six assists. News surfaced earlier in the day that rookie swingman Glen Rice Jr. would miss the next six weeks after wrist surgery but the news didn’t spoil a valiant road effort to sweep New York’s two basketball clubs. Former Wizard forward Andray Blatche connected on both of his three-point attempts and finished with 12 points and four assists.

Saturday, Dec. 21: Ariza’s Trey’s Spur 106-99 Victory over Celtics
One final road game stood between Washington and a long Christmas break but that was before Boston built an 18-point first half lead at TD Garden on Saturday. With the Wizards now facing a sizable deficit, a mini vacation was starting to spoil a little. However, behind swingman Trevor Ariza’s five three pointers, Washington rushed back to steal a game from the fourth-best team in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Ariza led all scorers with 27 points and Wall’s six steals helped sway the momentum back after a 30-14 Boston-controlled first quarter. The Wizards outscored Boston 92-69 for the final three periods and got a solid contribution from front court player Kevin Seraphin, who added 13 points and six rebounds.

Next Up: The Wizards close out the calendar year with a Dec. 27 road game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, a Dec. 28 home game against the Detroit Pistons and a Dec. 30 visit to Detroit.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO