The Washington Wizards are in a tight race to trying to avoid the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers in the first round of the 2014 National Basketball Association (NBA) Playoffs. And so far, they’re winning. Washington dropped a chance to close the door on the Charlotte Bobcats (41-39 at press time), who are right on the heels of the Wizards (42-38) for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference race. Washington welcomed back Nene this week from a near two-month layoff to help gear up for the postseason. With Nene back, this is easily the healthiest the team has been since it first acquired center Marcin Gortat from the Phoenix Suns in a season-shifting trade in late October. With all their parts seemingly healthy, Washington will close the season with their first non-losing season since 2007. The AFRO recaps the week that was for the Washington Wizards.

Weds., April 9: Home Game Against Bobcats Results in Overtime Defeat
A Wednesday night home game against the charging Bobcats was billed as a headliner leading up to what was the last game of a season series that has now materialized into the race for sixth place. Any contest with two teams with nearly identical records chasing playoff position was going to garner extra attention. And it couldn’t have started off any worse for the home Wizards in a 94-88 overtime defeat. Washington trailed 32-18 after the opening quarter and as much as 20 points in the following period before the Wizards made a furious comeback attempt.

Gortat led the team with 27 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks while John Wall added 14 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists, his first triple double of the season. Washington tied the game in the third quarter taking a brief lead late in the final period before Kemba Walker’s late three pointer knotted the game at 83-83 and zapped the life out of the Verizon Center. Washington would only muster one point in the extra session.

Fri., April 11: Trip to Orlando Earns a 98-86 Win
The Wizards bounced back on Friday night with a 96-86 road win over the Orlando Magic. Despite falling behind early, Washington drove back into the game behind a strong performance from reserve forward Trevor Booker’s 14 points and three rebounds. Five Wizards scored in double figures while Wall added a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Washington shot just 2-of-15 from long range but their defense secured the victory. Orlando’s point total dropped from each quarter after scoring 29 points in the opening stanza. The Magic would score just 16 points in the fourth, stamping the win.

Sat., April 12: Home Game Dispatches Bucks 104-91 Win
Washington returned to the Verizon Center on Saturday night and appropriately dispatched the lowly Milwaukee Bucks 104-91. Washington rode the big game of Bradley Beal, who poured in a game-high 26 points as the Wizards used a big third quarter to spread the contest open. Six players scored in double figures for the Wizards, who gave Nene the night off after the previous night’s win. The victory helped the Wizards stay on track for the sixth spot but a daunting game looms on April 14 when the Miami Heat come to visit. Miami is in their own positional battle for the top seed as they duke it out over the final two games with the same record. Should the standings hold, Washington would square off with the Chicago Bulls in the opening round.

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO