Washington Wizards’ John Wall (2) drives to the basket against Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James (23) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
After ending the month of November on a four-game losing skid, the Washington Wizards needed a strong opening week of December to gain some momentum as NBA action starts to heat up. The play of John Wall and Bradley Beal has defined the Wizards’ early season struggles as both players have struggled with consistency and production. Beal has missed time due to injuries and Wall still hasn’t made the leap to superstardom as many around the franchise are hoping he will. Still, the Wizards used their frustrations from last week to fuel a competitive stretch. The AFRO recaps the week that was for the Washington Wizards:
Dec. 1: Wizards Steal Road Game Against Cavaliers, 97-85
A road game against the Cleveland Cavaliers wasn’t the most ideal way to start December but somehow the Wizards handled the challenge in winning style. Washington scored the game’s first 10 points while Wall scored a season-high 35 points to help dominate the Cavs on the road in a 97-85 victory on Dec. 1. It was Cleveland’s first home loss of the season. Wall led all players in points scored and assists (10), outdueling Cleveland’s LeBron James, who had a 24-point, 13-rebound night. It was a game of runs for the Wizards who followed a 15-2 run in the second quarter with a 9-0 run to start the third quarter to put away the Cavs. Washington jumped to a 21-point lead in the opening minutes of the second half before controlling the game until the finish. Beal added 18 points in the win.
Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant (24) dribbles against Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal, right, during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015, in Washington. The Lakers won 108-104. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Dec. 2: Kobe Bryant Dominates in Final D.C. Game, Leading Lakers’ 108-104 Win
After a huge road win, the Wizards seemingly threw the momentum away by losing to a two-win Los Angeles Lakers team 108-104 the following night at home on Dec. 2. With the Verizon Center overrun by purple and gold, Kobe Bryant’s final game in Washington, D.C., brought out nearly every Laker fan and Bryant supporter in the District. It was enough to spur Bryant to a season-high 31-point night, offsetting another monstrous effort from Wall who recorded 34 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds. With the Lakers leading 103-101, Wall cut to the rim but threw the ball away on an errant pass right into the hands of the Lakers Lou Williams, and Los Angeles would sit on the lead to end the game. Center Marcin Gortat added 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal, right, goes to the basket against Phoenix Suns guard Brandon Knight (3) and Jon Leuer (30) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, in Washington. The Wizards won 109-106. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Dec. 4: Short-handed Wizards Clinch Victory Against Suns, 109-106
Washington returned to the Verizon Center on Dec. 4 to square off against the high-paced Phoenix Suns. Washington used some late defense and a Beal-led rally to overcome a late deficit in a 109-106 win. Beal stood out, scoring 34 points in 38 minutes while adding nine rebounds and five assists. The Wizards entered the game missing their entire frontcourt rotation with Gortat out for personal reasons while Nenê, Drew Gooden and Kris Humphries all missed the contest due to injuries. Washington trailed by 10 points early in the final quarter but climbed out of a hole to avoid what would’ve been back-to-back frustrating losses. Wizards coach Randy Wittman was forced to go small against the streaking Suns, using 6-foot-9-inch Otto Porter as his center for different stretches of the game. The mixing and matching of lineups paid off for the short-handed Wizards as they escaped the week one game below .500 with an 8-9 record.
Next – Washington heads to Miami to face the Heat on Dec. 7, followed by a home game at the Verizon Center against the Houston Rockets on Dec. 9. The Wizards also take on the Pelicans in New Orleans on Dec. 11 and the Mavericks in Dallas on Dec. 12.