The Washington Wizards sit at 7-5 after winning three of their four games and snapping a two-game losing streak in the process. Washington picked up their defensive intensity this week, holding three of their four opponents to under 100 points after allowing a season-high 130 points to Cleveland the prior week. It started with All-Star guard John Wall, who missed just one game despite suffering what looked like a serious fall against the Cavs on Nov. 3.

Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) knocks away the ball against Atlanta Hawks guard Kent Bazemore, back center, during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, in Washington. The Wizards won 113-94. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

After a week of empty promises from Wall and Bradley Beal, the Wizards kept quiet and just played good basketball, staying out of headlines and focusing on improving their effort. Beal stepped up in Wall’s absence, dropping 38 points in an impressive 107-96 road win over the Toronto Raptors on Nov. 5. Five Wizards scored in double-figures against Toronto, including 19 points and five rebounds from Otto Porter.

When Wall returned for the subsequent home game against the woeful Dallas Mavericks on Nov. 7, it looked like an easy win on paper for the Wizards. But that same disinterest in defense that the team has showed all season reared its head again in a 113-99 defeat. Inconsistency has been a theme in Washington (and not just from the basketball team) for the last few seasons, and it zapped the team for one more loss before they bounced back.

Washington won its next two home games against the Los Angeles Lakers, 111-95, and the Atlanta Hawks, 113-94, and looked impressive in both contests. Wall blocked three shots against the Lakers and singlehandedly raised the defensive intensity for the team, which carried over in the next game against Atlanta.

The Wizards sit in second place in Southeast Division, but it feels like the team should have more wins. Washington has dropped at least three games to inferior opponents just because they lacked energy and focus. For a team with a goal of winning 50 games, every missed opportunity in an 82-game season can add up.

The Wizards will end their four-game home stand with an outing against Sacramento on Nov. 13. Washington could have bigger problems on the horizon if Wall’s ex-college teammate Eric Bledsoe gets acclimated with his new team, the Milwaukee Bucks. Bledsoe was traded from Phoenix to Milwaukee last week in a move that could catapult the latter into contention in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards continue to be plagued by a lack of bench depth and inconsistent defense, but ownership appears content on the current makeup of the roster. If Beal and Wall are expecting a deep playoff run, as they told reporters a few weeks ago, they could be setting themselves up for a letdown.

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO