Washington Wizards forward Drew Gooden, right, takes a shot against Miami Heat forward Shawne Williams (43) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014 in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
The Washington Wizards opened their 2014-15 season without guards Bradley Beal and Martell Webster and big men Nene and DeJuan Blair. But with All-Star point guard John Wall and newly re-signed center Marcin Gortat still in place, the Wizards still managed to record a successful opening week and finish the stretch with consecutive wins.
Oct. 29: Wizards Fall in Opener to Heat, 107-95
Washington Wizards’ John Wall (2) makes a move to get around Orlando Magic’s Elfrid Payton, left, during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla., Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014. Washington won 105-98. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Washington opened their season on the road against the defending Eastern Conference champion, the Miami Heat. Although LeBron James departed the Heat to return to Cleveland, Miami still appeared as formidable as ever, downing the Wizards 107-95. Gortat tied for the team lead with 18 points while Wall added 16 points and 11 rebounds. The Wizards put five players in double figures, but couldn’t do enough defensively to stop Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who combined for 47 points. Bosh flashed his trademark flexibility, hauling in 15 rebounds, handing out four assists and nailing three of four shots from long range.
Oct. 30: Wall Leads Washington over Orlando, 105-98
Washington returned to action the following night in Orlando, but the Magic came away with a different result thanks to an inspired Wall. A 30-point, 12-assist and five-rebound night from their star powered Washington to a 105-98 victory. Five players again scored in double figures for the Wizards, with Gortat chipping in 20 points and 12 rebounds. Wall saved his best for last after the Wizards nearly blew a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter. With Washington up 100-98 and less than 30 seconds left to play, the slender 6-foot, 4-inch guard slipped past his defender for a layup that gave the Wizards enough cushion to secure the win.
Washington Wizards’ Otto Porter (22) shoots the ball over Milwaukee Bucks’ Jabari Parker (12) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014, in Washington. The Wizards won 108-97. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)
Nov. 1: Porter Steps Up in Home Opener Win, 108-97
In the Wizards’ home opener, it took a team effort to down the young and pesky Milwaukee Bucks after Paul Pierce was called for a second technical foul and ejected in the first half. Five players again scored in double figures, but it was sophomore forward Otto Porter who paced the team with 21 points and five rebounds. Filling in for the ejected Pierce, Porter flashed the type of potential that made him a coveted first round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Curling off screens and swishing open shots, Porter’s performance started fans chanting his name in the fourth quarter, reminiscent of his Georgetown days. Wall added 19 points, 10 rebounds, five steals and six rebounds, while Gortat tallied 20 points and nine rebounds.
Wall, Gortat and Porter are off to amazing starts in the young season: each player is averaging double-figure scoring with Wall averaging a double-double so far. Washington will begin the second week of their campaign on the road against the New York Knicks, but with three players operating at full capacity, the Wizards appear ready to face anyone in the league.