The Washington Wizards earned their first win of the season during the week of Jan. 8, but it was sandwiched in between four more losses.
The Wizards are officially the worst team in the NBA with a 1-11 record, and appear headed for another lottery pick next June. What’s happening in Washington is unprecedented. The club has never started this poorly and the performances of John Wall, Andray Blatche and Nick Young have been maddening.
Wall, the first overall selection in 2010, has shown poor decision making as well as, poor body language, in his early struggles. Wall finished the week of Jan. 8 with averages of 11 points, seven assists, five rebounds and just under five turnovers per game. The second-year guard out of Kentucky wasn’t the only Wizard to struggle this week. The AFRO recaps the week that was for the Wizards.
Jan. 8 – Wizards, 72 vs. Minnesota, 93: With a home game on tap against the lowly Timberwolves (3-5), the Wizards hoped to get the week started off right against a team that picked second overall in last summer’s NBA Draft. Not only did Minnesota exit the Verizon Center with a win, but they did it in impressive fashion, blowing out the Wizards on their home court. Several Wizards players were booed throughout the night, as the fans all but gave up their hopes for the season after the club fell to 0-8. Ironically, it was Timberwolves rookie point guard Ricky Rubio that stole the show, whipping around highlight reel passes while powering his team to the win. Washington had a chance to draft Rubio in the 2009 draft ,but traded their fifth overall selection to Minnesota in exchange for guards Mike Miller and Randy Foye, both of whom aren’t with the team today. Rubio led all players with a career-high 14 assists.
Jan. 10 – Wizards, 93 vs. Toronto, 78: After being trampled by Minnesota, Washington finally grabbed an easy win over a listless Raptors team. Wizards head coach Flip Saunders tweaked his starting forward rotation for the game, benching forwards Blatche and Rashard Lewis and starting rookie forward Chris Singleton and second year forward Trevor Booker. The added spark off the bench helped Washington open a decisive 12-point halftime lead. Lewis and guard Nick Young tied for the team lead with 15 points apiece.
Jan. 11 – Wizards, 64 vs. Chicago, 78: A road game to visit the Chicago Bulls is daunting for any team, especially when that team has yet to win an away game this season and the home team entered the night allowing just 68 points at home. Without an injured Derrick Rose (turf toe), the Bulls were able to snuff out a wounded Wizards offense in a season-low scoring performance. Washington shot just 31 percent from the field while Bulls backup point guard John Lucas III demolished Wall with a career performance of 25 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Blatche missed the game with an injured shoulder.
Jan. 13 – Wizards, 89 vs. Philadelphia, 120: Young’s jump shot six minutes into the road game against Philadelphia gave Washington a 14-12 lead. But from that point on, the Sixers left no doubt that the game was in hand. The Wizards connected on just four of 17 three-pointers as Philadelphia built a 14-point halftime lead. Lewis once again led a struggling offense with 16 points off the bench, but it was the Wizards defense, not their offense, which doomed them in their 10th loss of the early season. Philadelphia connected on a blistering 66 percent of their three-point shots, while shooting 55 percent from the field. Sixers guard Jodie Meeks led all scorers with 26 points, connecting on six of his seven three-point attempts.
Jan. 14 – Wizards, 90 vs. Philadelphia, 102: Following their blowout loss the previous night, Washington returned to the Verizon Center to complete their home-and-home series against the Sixers. It was a different night, but the same story. Washington got off to a good start, leading 26-23 after the first quarter, but the bottom fell out in the following period. Philadelphia outscored Washington 29-14 in the second quarter on the way to another easy win. Washington received their first solid performance from Wall in nearly a week, as he added 19 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, but also committed eight turnovers. With the loss, the Wizards fell to 1-11 this season. Blatche missed his third straight game with a sprained shoulder.
Weekly notes: Although the week was another dark one in Wizards history, the evolution of third-year center JaVale McGee cannot be understated. McGee has been the Wizards’ most consistent player so far, but his work in the paint and blocking shots continues to go unnoticed around the league. McGee turned in a solid week with averages of 12 points, 10 rebounds and more than three blocks a game. McGee’s best performance came in the second game against Philadelphia, with 23 points, 18 rebounds, five blocks and one steal.
Washington will return to the Verizon Center for a Martin Luther King Day afternoon clash with the Houston Rockets.