Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal, left, is defended by Atlanta Hawks’ Kyle Korver in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
The Washington Wizards zigzagged between away and home games, this week, which mirrored their fluctuating performances.
Jan. 11: Wizards Swept by Hawks, 120-89
Wizards opened a busy week on the road in a Sunday afternoon affair against the Eastern Conference’s top team in the Atlanta Hawks. And, while it was close after Washington sawed a 14-point lead in half by intermission, things got ugly fast after that in a 120-89 drubbing. The Hawks powered their way to a 33-12 fourth quarter and stamped the finishing touches on a statement win. The Wizards just weren’t prepared for the Hawks’ onslaught as eight Atlanta players scored in double figures, and a ninth player finished with nine points. The Wizards committed 19 turnovers and couldn’t find a scorer to carry the load as Wall finished with a team-high 15 points. The all-star guard was the catalyst for Washington’s offensive woes as Wall finished with eight turnovers, which offset his eight assists. Atlanta showed why they entered the day with a 29-8 record, using excellent floor spacing and a barrage of shooters to connect on 16-31 from long range.
Jan. 13: Reserve’s Surprise Performance Yields 101-93 Win Over Spurs
After a 31-point loss, Washington returned home and returned its focus to a Tuesday night, Jan. 13 showdown with the San Antonio Spurs–a team they haven’t beaten since 2005. But a huge performance from Wall as well as a surprise performance from another Wizards team member, willed the Wizards to a 101-93 victory. Washington held its ground through the night against the defending champions and received a big performance from reserve Kevin Seraphin, who came alive in the final stanza, scoring 11 of his season-high 17 points while hauling in eight rebounds, five of which came in the final period. And his huge block down the stretch helped the Wizards snap a 10-year drought and a 17-game losing streak. Wall paced the team with 25 points and eight assists with Seraphin backing him up. Five Wizards scored in double figures and the team out-rebounded the Spurs 48-34. It was an excellent consolation prize of a win to replace the beat down that Washington took just a few days prior. By the time the last few seconds on the clock were ticking away, the majority of a sold out Verizon Center were giving standing ovations to the players as the Wizards continued on a streak of firsts this year.
Jan. 14: Wizards Freeze Out Bulls in 105-99 Victory
Washington Wizards forward Paul Pierce (34) drives between Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) and Pau Gasol (16) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015, in Chicago. The Wizards won 105-99. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
A visit the following night to chilly Chicago on Jan. 14 awaited a jubilant Washington team as a televised battle with the same Bulls team that the Wizards defeated a week prior awaited. It was a chance for the Wizards to make a statement against the impressive Bulls and they did, upending Chicago at home, 105-99. It was Washington’s fifth straight victory at the United Center. Five Wizards scored in double figures while Wall directed the way, scoring 21 points while handing out nine assists. Paul Pierce added a strong game, scoring 22 points and collecting six rebounds. Pierce was vocal throughout the night, encouraging his teammates and trash talking the home fans as well as the home team. In their steadily growing rivalry, Derrick Rose scored 32 points while connecting on 6-of-9 from deep. Rose even hit a half court prayer to end the first quarter. But, it was Wall who racked up his second straight win over Rose after going nearly four years without beating his counterpart.
Jan. 16: Passion-less Wizards Lose 102-80 to Nets
A lifeless performance awaited Washington at home at the Verizon Center on Friday against Brooklyn in a disappointing 102-80 defeat. After turning in two quality wins, Washington suffered a severe letdown to a team that had lost it’s previous seven games going into the night. There was no intensity, passion or aggression and it showed as Wall paced the Wizards with a team-high 13 points. Reserve forward Kris Humphries joined Wall as the only two Wizards to score in double figures. Brook Lopez and Jarrett Jack scored 26 apiece for the visiting Nets.