A 1-2 start to kick off a West Coast road trip isn’t the ideal way to make a name for yourself, but when you’re a fringe playoff team with deep postseason hopes, it can be very telling.

The Washington Wizards showed some maturity issues while sleepwalking through an important week in which they could have gained some much-needed ground in the Eastern Conference standings. The Wizards have openly expressed a desire to be recognized amongst the best teams in the league, but winning and not talking is the only way that clout is given. The AFRO recaps the week that wasn’t for the Washington Wizards.

Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Oct. 23, 2017, in Denver. The Wizards won 109-104. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Oct. 23: Wizards Outlast Nuggets in Denver, 109-104

A 109-104 win over the Denver Nuggets on Oct. 23 perhaps shouldn’t have been as tough as it was for a team that expects to challenge in the East, but the Wizards were happy to take the win. Led by John Wall (19 points, 12 assists) and Bradley Beal (20 points, five rebounds) Washington held on for a tough victory despite a raucous Denver crowd. The Wizards placed six players in double-figures and needed every point, as the Nuggets wouldn’t go away. The win was nice, but the hype for the next two games began a trash talk war on Twitter.

Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram, left, drives the ball as Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. The Lakers won, 102-99. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)

Oct. 25: Lakers Back-Up Talk with 102-99 Overtime Victory

Washington traveled to California to square off with second overall pick Lonzo Ball and the Los Angeles Lakers on Oct. 25, but the competition really began two days prior when Wizards center Marvin Gortat promised via Twitter that Wall would get the best of the rookie. His words backfired when Los Angeles stunned the Wizards on Oct. 25 in a 102-99 overtime loss. Despite outscoring the Lakers 61-46 between the second and third quarters, the Wizards ran out of gas late and couldn’t withstand a strong Lakers charge. Beal led all scorers with 28 points but too much “hero ball” from Wall may have doomed the visitors. Wall recorded 18 points and nine assists but shot just 7-of-22 from the field, including several questionable shots down the stretch as he tried to singlehandedly win his matchup with Ball.

Washington Wizards’ John Wall, right, drives the ball against Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry (30) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Oct. 27, 2017, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Oct. 27: Wizards Blow Double-Digit Lead in 120-117 Loss to Golden State

Watch enough Wizards games and you’ll know that a huge lead on the road is the worst thing that can happen to Washington—and it happened to them again in a 120-117 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Oct. 27. The Wizards led by as many as 18 points and even saw the defending champions play the entire second half without team leader Draymond Green due to a scuffle in the first half with Beal that saw both players tossed. Washington stumbled again late in the game as they were outscored 33-20 in the final period. Wall recorded 20 points and 14 assists and Washington loss despite a strong night from Washington’s front court of third-year forward Kelly Oubre Jr. and Otto Porter Jr., who combined for 48 points and 18 rebounds.

Analysis:

The same problems Washington had with its bench last season are the same issues they have experienced so far on this road trip. The Wizards still lack an impact player off the bench despite overhauling their reserves in the summer. There are always trades to be made in the NBA, and names like Jahlil Okafor and Eric Bledsoe are examples of players who have been widely placed on the trading block who could help the Wizards immediately. While it’s only the second week of the NBA season and the Wizards sport a 3-2 record at press time, their bench has the potential to hamper them this season once again.

 

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO