With six games to go in their 2015-2016 season, the Washington Wizards’ playoff hopes are close to being extinguished. Standing at 37-39, the midseason trade to acquire Markieff Morris and the following signings of youthful veterans like Marcus Thornton and J.J. Hickson appear to be lost causes at this point. Washington started their playoff push in February when they began the month three games under .500, but they’ve barely made any traction, going 16-15 since it was determined their playoff hopes were on the line. It’s been a disappointing campaign for the Wizards and they would need a miracle at this point just to ensure themselves a date for the first round against the top overall seed if they were to qualify. With less than two weeks remaining in the season, the AFRO recaps the week that was for the Wizards.
Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat, left, of Poland, and Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant reach for a rebound during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March 27, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
March 27: Wizards Ice Lakers 101-88
Washington began their week with a five-game western road trip that saw them visit the Los Angeles Lakers on March 27. Despite the year-long celebration for Kobe Bryant’s retirement, the Wizards used a huge mid-game run to ice Bryant and the Lakers 101-88. Washington led by three points after the opening quarter but used a 53-32 run over the next two quarters to gain a comfortable lead that they wouldn’t relinquish. All-star guard John Wall led the team with 22 points, 13 rebounds and five rebounds, while center Marcin Gortat added a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Morris sat out the contest with a strained right calf. Bradley Beal also took a hard fall early in the game but was able to return.
March 29: Wizards Fall 102-94 to Undefeated Warriors
Washington returned to action on March 29 against the record-setting Golden State Warriors and held a brief nine-point lead early in the first half before a 12-0 Warriors run quickly eliminated any momentum Washington held as they fell 102-94. Both clubs traded shots for much of the night before the Warriors ran away with the game in the second half. Golden State pushed the lead to 95-76 with six minutes left in the game and quickly iced the Wizards. Washington’s starters never got going despite Morris returning to the lineup. Wall, Beal and Morris shot just 15-of-42 from the field and four-of-16 from deep. Beal led the team with 17 points and Morris added 15. Wall scored just eight points but recorded 11 assists.
March 30: Washington Falls 120-111 to Sacramento
The prior night’s loss against the Warriors was damaging to Washington’s playoff hopes, leaving no room for error in the team’s trip to Sacramento on March 30, but Washington made plenty of mistakes and endured perhaps the biggest loss of the season in a 120-111 defeat. Washington had no answer for Kings center DeMarcus Cousins who recorded 29 points, 10 rebounds, five steals and four blocks. Washington rotated centers Nene and Gortat against Cousins and Wall’s former teammate at the University of Kentucky simply annihilated anything Washington had to offer. Beal led the team with 24 points, and Wall controlled the offense with 13 assists. But, it was Washington’s defense that failed the team. Sacramento shot 56 percent from the field and placed six players into double figures in scoring. The loss to Sacramento put the Wizards three-and-a-half games out of the eighth seed slot for the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Phoenix Suns guard Archie Goodwin (20) loses the ball as Washington Wizards center Nene (42) and guard Garrett Temple defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, April 1, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
April 1: Washington Puts Away Suns, 106-99
Washington concluded its week with a road trip to Phoenix on April 1 to square off against the lowly Suns (20-56) in an effort to revive their suffocating playoff hopes. Five Wizards scored in double figures and Washington used a late run to put away Phoenix 106-99. Wall paced the club with 22 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds, while Morris overcame a serenade of boos in his return against his former team to add 21 points and nine rebounds. The game was close throughout until Washington used a 13-1 run late in the final quarter to gain some separation before holding on for the victory. The win placed Washington three games behind Indiana for the final playoff spot.
Next: With only a handful of games remaining, Washington will return to action on April 3 when they visit the Los Angeles Clippers.