With less than a month to play in the regular season, the Washington Wizards hope to end a disappointing year on a positive note. A few key veterans are out with injuries, and the team’s rookies have been given the chance to shine in their absence. The fresh faces have performed well, but the results have still been the same for a depleted Wizards club.

Wizards vs. New Jersey Nets:
Rookie guard John Wall exploded for 26 points, eight assists, six rebounds and four steals as he helped the Wizards snap a six-game losing streak with a 98-92 home win over the New Jersey Nets on March 20. Washington trailed by as many as 17 points before head coach Flip Saunders instructed his young point guard to take over the game. In the absence of Josh Howard, Nick Young, Andray Blatche and Rashard Lewis, all out with injuries, Wall made his presence felt, scoring 14 points in the second half. Fellow rookie guard Jordan Crawford scored 21 points and center JaVale McGee added 16 points and seven rebounds.

Wizards vs. Portland Trail Blazers:
Washington traveled to Portland on March 22 for a date with the Trail Blazers, but true to their season-long road struggles, the Wizards were blown out, 111-76. Washington struggled mightily, failing to score more than 20 points in the final three quarters of play. How bad was it for Washington? Crawford shot 3-of-15 from the field but still led the Wizards in scoring with a lowly 12 points. Washington shot just 37 percent from the field and was outrebounded 45-32. After torching the Nets, Wall was slowed by the Blazers, shooting just 3-of-12 from the field as he added nine points.

Wizards vs. Los Angeles Clippers:
What might have been Washington’s greatest effort of the season, still ended in defeat as the team fell 127-119 in double overtime on the road to the Los Angeles Clippers on March 23. The Wizards overcame an early 12-point deficit courtesy of Wall’s 32 points and 10 assists.

Crawford logged a tiring 53 minutes but responded with 25 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds and four steals and McGee added 22 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. One of McGee’s blocks was a monstrous swat of a layup attempt by Clippers rookie Blake Griffin that raised a loud reaction from the crowd.

Wall sent the game into the first overtime with a tough floater to tie it at 102-102, but a shorthanded Wizards team, still without four key players, tired down the stretch against the Clippers’ deeper bench.

“It’s tough to lose this game. We did everything we had to do,” Wall said.

Wizards vs. Denver Nuggets:
A newly revamped Denver Nuggets team awaited Washington on March 25 in the Mile High City and the Nuggets wasted no time showing their visitors the door. Washington fell to 1-34 on the road after falling to the Nuggets, 114-94, as four Denver players scored 17 points each and two others scored in double figures. Washington allowed at least 30 points in three of four quarters as Denver connected on 11 three-pointers to extend a three-game losing streak for the Wizards. Crawford led Washington with 19 points.

The Wizards will return to action March 27 when they visit the Golden State Warriors.

 

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO