Washington continued to take steps backward during the first week of February in their quest to finish the season strong. With half the season in the books, now is the time for the Wizards to make a playoff push, yet the team continues to struggle with their defensive assignments and manifesting enough offense out of a handicapped group.
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, center, passes the ball between Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal, right, and Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. (right) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Monday, Feb. 1, 2016. Oklahoma City won 114 -98. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
Another three losses this past week dropped the Wizards to 10th in the Eastern Conference and fourth place in the Southeastern Division. Washington is losing ground quickly in a tight conference. The AFRO recaps the week that was for the Washington Wizards.
Feb. 1 – Thunder Storm Out to Early Lead in 114-98 Victory
Washington started the week off with a road game against the surging Oklahoma City Thunder on Feb. 1, and the contest was all but over after the first quarter. The Thunder led by 10 points after the opening quarter and used their hot start to control the game en route to a 114-98 victory. Oklahoma City simply mauled the Wizards on the glass, holding a 53-27 edge in rebounds. Five players recorded at least five rebounds for the Thunder, while Marcin Gortat had a team-high six rebounds for Washington to go along with 17 points. John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for 35 points, but the Wizards never led in the game.
Feb. 3 – Curry Outduels Wall, Warriors Outrun Wizards, 134-121
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) reacts after a goaltending call on Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in Washington. The Warriors won 134-121. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
The Wizards returned to action on Feb. 3 at the Verizon Center, but unfortunately faced the best team in the league: the Golden State Warriors. The Wizards home crowd appeared wowed by the Warriors, who claimed a 134-121 win. The Warriors led by 15 points after the first quarter, powered by 25-first quarter points from Steph Curry. Curry racked up a game-high 51 points, but Wall battled him every step of the way, finishing with a team-high 41 points and 10 assists. Washington managed to narrow the lead to just two points in the middle of the third quarter, but Golden State went on another run to lead by double-digits before the quarter ended.
Feb. 5 – Wizards Return to Winning Ways, Drop 76ers, 106-94
A Feb. 5 home game against the lowly Philadelphia 76ers was just what the Wizards needed to snap their recent losing streak, and did so with a 106-94 victory. Led by a triple-double by Wall and a double-double by Gortat, Washington pounded Philadelphia down low, claiming a 46-38 advantage on the glass and a 58-42 edge in points scored in the paint. Washington led 38-18 after the first quarter and never looked back. Wall recorded 18 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, while Gortat secured 21 points and 13 rebounds.
Washington Wizards’ Otto Porter Jr. (22) slips past Charlotte Hornets’ Spencer Hawes (00) in the paint for an easy two points during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. The Hornets won 108-104. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)
Feb. 6 – Washington Blows 19-Point Lead, Falls to Charlotte 108-104
The Wizards returned to action the following night on the road against the Charlotte Hornets, but perhaps some weary legs contributed to a blown 19-point lead and a 108-104 loss. Washington built its biggest lead in the second quarter, but Charlotte cut that margin to only 10 points at halftime. Behind Nicolaus Batum and Kemba Walker, Charlotte overpowered the Wizards late in the final quarter before finally securing the win. Five players scored in double-figures for Washington, led by 23 points from Wall, but the team couldn’t muster up enough energy and offense to finish their good start.
Next: Washington will return to action on Feb. 9 against the New York Knicks, and on Feb. 11 against the Milwaukee Bucks.