The Washington Wizards barely caught their breath from their last West Coast road trip before beginning another cross-country journey.
Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) prepares to shoot while being guarded by Utah Jazz guard Shelvin Mack (8) during the second quarter of a NBA basketball game Friday, March 31, 2017, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Chris Nicoll)
Washington headed west this week for a four-game swing capped by a matchup with last year’s Finals runner-up, the Golden State Warriors, on April 2. The Wizards are still locked into a four-team scuffle at the top of the Eastern Conference for the top four playoff seeds. The Wizards’ effort was boosted when they opened their road trip by clinching the Southeast Division with a win against the Los Angeles Lakers, marking franchise’s first division title since 1979. The AFRO recaps the week that was for the Washington Wizards.
March 28: Wall Rallies Wizards, Clinches Division Title with 119-108 Win over Lakers
Washington’s opening road game against the Lakers on March 28 didn’t start off in ideal fashion, but the road team pulled a few tricks out of its hat in a 119-108 win. Washington trailed by 16 points in the second half but stormed back in the final quarter behind John Wall’s 34 points and 14 assists to stun the Lakers and give the Wizards their first title of any type in nearly 40 years. The team celebrated amongst each other in the locker room after the game, with players dousing each other with water. Washington outscored Los Angeles 37-13 in the fourth quarter.
March 29: Wizards Stumble in 133-124 Loss to Clippers
The Wizards headed back to the Staples Center the following night to square off against the Los Angeles Clippers, but couldn’t duplicate the magic from the prior night. Washington fell behind early and never recovered in a 133-124 loss. Despite big performances from Wall (41 points, eight assists and seven rebounds) and Bradley Beal (27 points, five three pointers), Washington couldn’t slow the high-paced Clipper attack. Los Angeles got off to a fast start and never slowed; Wizards never got within six points after entering the final quarter trailing 110-98. Los Angeles shot 56 percent from the field and 40 percent from long range.
March 31: Gobert, Jazz Stymie Wizards Once Again, 95-88
When the Wizards hosted the Utah Jazz in late February at the Verizon Center, Jazz center Rudy Gobert dominated the paint, helping Utah control the game in an easy win. On the road in Salt Lake City on March 31, Washington brought a better effort, but Gobert still had a sizable effect as Utah downed the visitors, 95-88. With the 7-foot-1-inch Gobert controlling the paint, Washington settled for several long jump shots and could barely run their offense, resulting in the team’s lowest point total since November. Wall was inefficient, scoring 16 points on 22 attempts and handing out just five assists while committing three turnovers. Beal paced the team with 27 points, but his turnover with a little over a minute remaining and Washington trailing by just two points allowed Utah to push the lead to two scores and out of reach. Wall picked up his 15th technical foul of the season, on a questionable foul against Gobert. If Wall receives another technical before the season ends, he’ll earn an automatic one-game suspension.
Next: Washington will return to action on April 2 when they visit the Golden State Warriors. Washington (46-30) currently sits fourth in the Eastern Conference standings.