Nov. 3—Miami Heat Defeats Wizards, 103-93
The signs of improvement are there. Aside from a championship-schooling from the National Basketball Association’s defending champs, the Washington Wizards weren’t too bad in the first full week of November. An early week 103-93 loss in Miami on Nov. 3 could’ve been a lot worse. After being outscored by 23 points in the first three quarters, Washington dropped 29 points in the final period just to make the score look more appealing than it really was. Miami’s big three of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade all scored at least 20 points each and Miami broke a two-game losing streak by extending Washington’s record to three-straight losses to open the season. The Wizards looked listless while the Heat looked impressive. Washington did a good job battling back, however, from a 20-plus deficit, and they would take that momentum into their next game.

Nov. 6—Wizards Win Against Philadelphia 76’ers, 116-102
When upper management promises playoffs and makes moves to win now, you can’t start 0-3 but that’s where the Wizards found themselves sitting as they traveled to Philadelphia Nov. 6 with an early rematch with the same team that ruined their home opener. In many ways, the term “must-win” was riding on that game and Washington played like it. A season-high 18 made-three pointers sparked Washington to a 39-point first quarter. And John Wall’s career-high five made three pointers helped Wall to a game-high 24 points as Washington got even with Philadelphia in a 116-102 win. Seven players scored in double figures for Washington who put on their best show of the season. The twin-tower combo of Marcin Gortat and Nene combined for 29 points, three blocks and 17 rebounds while the wing rotation of guard Bradley Beal and swingmen Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster produced 10 threes for the victory.

Nov.8—Wizards Defeat Brooklyn Nets, 112-108
The Brooklyn Nets, in all their hyped glory, came to the Verizon Center the following Friday. And for all the hoopla surrounding their additions of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Kidd as their head coach, the Nets nevertheless departed D.C. with the same record as the Wizards who overcame an early double-digit deficit to force a112-108 overtime win. Washington improved to 2-3 on the season behind a vintage performance from Nene, who scored 20 points and added eight rebounds, three assists and a monster block on a Garnett attempt that ejected fans from their seats. Washington got another strong showing from Gortat, who added 15 points and 12 rebounds. But it was the young Beal who led the way, scoring a game-high 29 points while going 3-of-6 from deep. Both Brooklyn and Philadelphia have beaten the Heat this year in impressive fashion and although Washington’s lone game against Miami was a disappointment, the way they handled their last two victories was a much-needed sign of improvement.

At 2-3, the arrow is still pointing down for the Wizards. Impressive against Philadelphia and Brooklyn, the schedule looks daunting, however, with road games against Oklahoma City, Dallas and San Antonio coming up this week. Head coach Randy Wittman preaches defense as his sermon but Washington has been all about offense so far in the early season. Washington is fifth in the league in three-point percentage, tied for sixth in the NBA in points scored and fourth in the league in assists. The defense however sits last in the Association with 107 points given up per game but that should change as Gortat gets accustomed to Wittman’s schemes. The offense was a major problem last year while the defense was stellar. So far, it’s been the exact opposite but fans are getting exciting again as the Wizards finally begin to look like a competent unit.

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO