A six-day layoff gave the Washington Wizards a chance to rest some key contributors, but a subsequent blowout loss on the road in Minnesota gave the Wizards another injury scare that might have proved catastrophic.

Washington is slowly rounding into form as players such as Martell Webster, Bradley Beal, Nene and Otto Porter get accustomed to consistent playing time. The extent to which the Wizards gel will go a long way toward how Washington finishes the season. With the bulk of the team operating at full strength, Washington has a chance to improve upon their 13-14 record.

Friday, Dec. 27: Wizards Fade in Minnesota’s Victory 120-98—Beal Injury Scare
Returning to action on Dec. 27 after a Christmas break, the Wizards surrendered a 15-point advantage to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the second quarter, and trailed at halftime by double digits. Washington would not recover, as John Wall led the team with 26 points and handed out seven assists but seven players for the Timberwolves scored in double figures in a 120-98 Minnesota victory.

Washington survived a scare during the game when a pileup left Beal grimacing on the floor with what appeared to be a serious leg injury. The second-year guard was helped off the court by his teammates before being sent for X-rays which would show no injury. The potential injury could have been problematic for a team still adjusting after Beal returned to the lineup a few games ago from a stress injury.

Sat., Dec. 28: Wizards Trounce Detroit 106-82—Beal Returns Strong
Beal returned to the starting lineup the following night in a home game against the Detroit Pistons, and was effective in limited minutes. Beal scored 15 points in 20 minutes while connecting on three of four 3-pointers as Washington routed Detroit 106-82 at the Verizon Center. The Wizards sprinted to a 62-41 halftime lead as Wall (20 points, 11 assists) and Trevor Ariza (15 points, four 3-pointers) helped Washington run the court and spread the floor and shoot 47 percent from beyond the arc. Washington was ahead comfortably after halftime and never let the Pistons get close. The Wizards hope the magic continues when they travel to Detroit on Dec. 30.

Beal’s flirtation with injury was thankfully avoided and the guard flashed his dead-eye shooting in the triumph against Detroit. Washington looks extremely formidable when all its parts are healthy. The playoffs are a definite possibility if the team can just avoid the injury bug.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO