A five-game workweek turned up just one win for the struggling Washington Wizards, dropping the team to 8-24 overall. Washington began the week with a two-game road visit to the state of Texas, playing the NBA’s best squad, the San Antonio Spurs, on Dec. 26 before visiting the Houston Rockets the following night. San Antonio handed the Wizards a 94-80 loss to start their week. The Wizards followed with a 100-93 defeat by the Rockets.

Washington returned home for a 104-90 win over the Indiana Pacers on Dec. 29 before losing to them on the road 95-86 two days later. The Wizards finally returned home to open the new year against the New Orleans Hornets on Jan. 1, but a calendar change brought the same results as Washington fell 92-81.

Three more road losses this week pushed Washington’s streak of losses on the road to 16 games this season, leaving them as the only club in the NBA without a road victory this season. Young teams often struggle in opponent’s arenas, but being winless on the road two months into the season is something the team must overcome. Washington has a few veterans to turn to for leadership, including newly acquired forward Rashard Lewis, guard Kirk Hinrich and forward Josh Howard, but on a team mostly powered by youngsters, it’ll be up to them to determine when the streak will end.

The week wasn’t all bad for the Wizards, however. After being torched on defense by opponents in the early part of the season, the Wizards appear to have finally gotten a handle on coach Flip Saunders’ defense concepts. Washington has only allowed one team to top 100 points in their last nine games, an improvement Saunders said he’s proud of after opponents racked up 100 or more points in 17 of the Wizards’ first 23 games.

“I think our defense has been solid,” Saunders said. “That’s a positive, that we are making progress defending overall and at times we have rebounded well. We just got to get to the point where our offense doesn’t beat us. Turning the ball over is beating us right now. That’s been a problem at times in the beginning of the year too. We have got to be in a situation where we have got to value the ball more.”

Washington will return to action on Jan. 5 when they visit the Philadelphia 76ers.
 

 

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO