It took nearly six months, but the Washington Wizards finally gave their fans something to be proud of this NBA season.
After sleepwalking through the majority of the year, the Wizards closed their 2010-2011 campaign on a high note; winning five of their last eight games, and finishing the season with a 23-59 record. With two games left on the NBA calendar during the week of April 11, Washington turned in a pair of strong performances to give fans some hope heading into the summer.
Wizards vs. Boston Celtics:
In their last home game of the year, Washington suited up to face the playoff-bound Boston Celtics on April 11. Boston rested most of their starters in preparation for the playoffs, but the Wizards played all of their own to snatch a 95-94 overtime victory. Washington’s rookie backcourt of John Wall and Jordan Crawford played 46 minutes each and combined for 41 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
A tying basket from Crawford late in regulation sent the game into overtime before his three-pointer gave Washington breathing room in the extra period of play. Boston’s collection of All-Stars—guards Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo, forward Paul Pierce, center Kevin Garnett—all sat out Washington’s home finale.
Wizards vs. Cleveland Cavaliers:
Washington recorded its first road win of the season on Feb. 13 at Cleveland, so it was only fitting that the Wizards tried to duplicate that effort to finish the year. Despite building a 12-point lead at the end of the first quarter, Washington dropped its last game of the season, 100-93, to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Wizards coach Flip Saunders elected to give his reserves a final audition for next season. Crawford was the only starter to play more than 24 minutes. Forward Andray Blatche led Washington with 20 points and seven rebounds and forward Maurice Evans added 15 points in the loss.
Washington seems set to claim another high draft pick, as they finished with the fourth-worst record in the league. The mid-season acquisition of Crawford–with Wall, Blatche, center JaVale McGee and swingman Nick Young–gives the Wizards a nice quintet of young pieces to build around.
Adding another prized player in the draft could set the Wizards up for the long haul, if they can find another talented player such as Wall and Crawford. The decision in the offseason by Wizards ownership to rebuild the team with youth in the wake of the Gilbert Arenas era forced a rocky season, but players said they are already looking forward to next year.