The Washington Wizards closed the 2011-2012 season on a six-game winning streak, fueling optimism as the team heads into the summer after a forgettable campaign.

With consecutive wins over Charlotte, Cleveland and Miami, the Wizards issued double-digit victories over their remaining three opponents. It was a dizzying season for the Wizards, who finished 20-46 and fourth in the NBA Southeast Division. The AFRO recaps the week that was and the season that wasn’t for the Washington Wizards.

April 23—Washington 101, Charlotte 73: Washington kicked the week off with a stomping of the Charlotte Bobcats in front of an enthusiastic crowd at the Verizon Center. The Wizards exploded to a 63-point half, building a 24-point lead along the way. It was over before it started for the Bobcats, who saw 11 of 12 Wizards score in the game. John Wall led the efforts with 16 points and 14 assists. Center Nene added 18 points and six rebounds and Washington tied a season-high in assists with 28.

April 25—Washington 96, Cleveland 85: The Wizards made their final road trip of the season a good one, downing the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Washington outscored Cleveland 56-36 through the second and third period after rallying from a first quarter deficit. Wall was spectacular, recording 21 points, 13 assists, seven rebounds and seven steals. Four other Wizards scored in double figures and even those who didn’t, such as rookie Jan Vesely (seven points, 12 rebounds), were busy coming up with other ways to fuel the victory. Cleveland crawled within 10 points in the middle of the fourth quarter but Wall ignited another Wizards run to push the lead to 94-77 with just under five minutes remaining.

April 26—Washington 104, Miami 70: In the season’s grand finale, the Wizards were in high gear and the only thing the Heat’s Big Three could do was watch. With LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh planted on the bench to rest before the playoffs, Washington sprinted out to a 25-point halftime lead, and swelled that margin to as many as 38 points before the final buzzer sounded. Five Wizards scored in double figures and, although Wall wasn’t a part of that figure, he helped engineer the outburst with 12 assists.

Parting Shots:
Washington finished the year as winners of eight of their final 10 games, including their six-game winning streak. The Wizards closed April with wins over Chicago, Milwaukee, Orlando and a pair of victories over Miami—except for the season finale against Miami, the Wizards claimed wins over teams still vying for playoff position. Perhaps even more impressive is that Washington closed the season without leading scorer Jordan Crawford, who was shelved with an ankle injury. Washington will surely get a high pick in the upcoming draft and with another piece or two, the Wizards could finally be ready to contend next season after a otherwise dreadful 2012 campaign.

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO