April 18, 2014

Washington Wizards Game 47 Recap: Wizards top Trail Blazers to go above .500 for first time since 2009

Photo credit: Monumental Network

Photo credit: Monumental Network

At long last, the Washington Wizards are in unfamiliar territory for all the right reasons.

The last time Washington saw the view from above .500, Bradley Beal was just 16 years old and the Wiz Kids were just three games into the season. This time, the Wizards are fifth in the Eastern Conference with a 24-23 record…in February.

And, to get to this point, they had to beat two of the West’s top teams in back-to-back games.

John Wall scored 22 points and Trevor Ariza added another 20 to help Washington to a 100-90 win over the 34-14 Portland Trail Blazers Monday night at the Verizon Center.

“It’s great – a humbling experience,” Wall said after the game. “You give credit to the young guys that have been here for a while for how hard they work and trying to get better. You give a ‘great job’ to our coaching staff and our organization, the people up top for doing the right thing and trying to make this team better. It also starts with being here as a family. We all trust each other. We all hold each other accountable on the basketball court, everything we do as a team.” [Read more...]

Washington Wizards Game 46 Review: Wall, Wizards snap Thunder’s 10-game win streak

Hold your breath – the Washington Wizards are a .500 basketball team once again.

And, to get there, all they had to do was slow the hottest team in the NBA.

John Wall tallied 17 points, 15 assists and matched his career-high six steals as the Washington Wizards’ topped the Oklahoma City Thunder 96-81 on Saturday night at the Verizon Center. But, his first half performance was anything but all-star caliber.

Through the first 24 minutes of play, Wall missed all of his field goal attempts, including an easy lay-up just before halftime.

Then, per head coach Randy Wittman’s request, Wall changed his shoes.

After trading in his red Adidas for a white pair, Wall went on to shoot 7 of 11 with a highlight-worthy one-handed dunk over Washington native Kevin Durant.

With 4:09 remaining in the third quarter, the Wizards held on to a 58-57 lead before going on a 20-7 run. By the time Wall wowed the crowd with his monster dunk, the Wizards had jumped in front of the Thunder 89-72.

“Got to have amnesia in this league if you’re going to be good,” Wittman said after the game. “If you’re going to be good you can’t let bad plays, bad shooting, bad three quarters bother you… It could be easy to sit there and say, misses a layup at halftime I told him, either change your shoes, change your uniform, or do something. Something is not right.”

Marcin Gortat backed Wall with 14 points and 14 rebounds, and Trevor Ariza and Nene added 18 and 17 points, respectively. Even more, the Wizards took advantage of key opportunities, converting the Thunder’s 21 turnovers into 23 points.

“Everybody was involved with the game and when everybody touches the ball, even if they don’t shoot it, you feel involved,” Ariza said. “We definitely got everybody involved in the game tonight.”

Ariza did an excellent job of covering Durant who, despite tallying 26 points, missed 13 of his 21 field goal attempts.

“You definitely can’t stop [the Thunder],” Durant said. “What you can do is try to make them work for everything you get and make them take a lot of shots. That’s what I tried to do tonight—try to put pressure on them, try to make them take tough shots and luckily [Durant] missed some.”

With the win, the Wizards snapped the Thunder’s 10-game winning streak to go to .500 for the seventh time this season. A win over the Portland Trail Blazers Monday night would give Washington a winning record for the first time since October 2009.

Bradley Beal Named to 2014-16 USA Men’s Basketball Roster

USA Basketball announced today that Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal has been selected to the 2014-16 USA Basketball Men’s National Team. Beal will join 28 other players who have been selected for the 2014-2016 USA Men’s National Team pool, from which the 2014 USA World Championship Team and, if the U.S. qualifies, the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team will be selected.

Of the players currently named to the pool, 11 were a part of the 2012 U.S. Olympic basketball team.

“I am thrilled to be able to continue to compete as a member of USA Basketball and I look forward to the chance to represent my country,” Beal said. “Being part of this team is a tremendous honor and a great opportunity for me to learn and develop as a player.”

Beal has prior USA Basketball experience, as he was selected to the USA Basketball Men’s National Team Mini Camp last summer in Las Vegas and was a member of the 2010 U17 World Championship and 2009 U16 Championship teams. Beal also participated in the annual Nike Hoop Summit as part of the USA Basketball Junior National Select Team in 2011.

Additional players accepting invitations included Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, DeMarcus Cousins, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Kevin Love and Derrick Rose. [Read more...]

Washington Wizards Game 41 Recap: Wiz fall short against short-staffed Celtics

For the fifth time this season, the Washington Wizards attempted to go above .500 and fell short, this time by way of a 113-111 loss to the Boston Celtics Wednesday night at the Verizon Center.

John Wall recorded his second career triple-double with 28 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, but his achievements were soured by a missed potential game-winner at the buzzer in overtime.

The Wizards haven’t seen the view from above .500 since October 2009. This season alone they came as close as 0-0, 9-9, 14-14, 19-19 and 20-20.

Their latest attempt proved a valiant effort, if only in the second half.

Without Rajon Rando, Jerryd Bayless and Avery Bradley, the Celtics entered the game as if ready to record their 11th straight road loss. Instead, however, the Celtics’ Jeff Green had a stellar night as he posted 39 points, nine rebounds, three steals, a block and an assist.

Boston carried a 10-point lead into the second quarter, thanks in part to Green’s early 10 points. The margin only widened and, after Green went back-to-back with a finger roll layup and a jumper, Boston took a 19-point lead with less than four minutes left in the half.

The Celtics handed the Wizards some free baskets and yet Washington could only narrow the deficit to 18 points into halftime.

“First half we came out as individuals, no one would pass the ball to one another,” Wizards head coach Randy Wittman said after the game. “We dribbled the ball all over the place and then when we did pass it, it was to a guy with two seconds on the shot clock behind the three-point line. ‘I was going to get mine tonight. I was going to get mine.’ First half. We’re not good enough for that.” [Read more...]

Washington Wizards Game 37 Recap: Wizards shut down Heat in unlikely 114-97 win at home

A day after the Miami Heat paid a visit to the White House, the Washington Wizards handed LeBron James and company an unexpected reminder of who calls the District home.

The Wizards snapped Miami’s 22-game winning streak against Southeast Division opponents Wednesday evening with a 114-97 win at the Verizon Center.

Nevertheless, Washington stunned the Heat at the start by enjoying a 20-0 run in the first quarter and leading by as many as 34 points over a team that, with the loss, remains 16 games above .500.

Seven Wizards posted double-digit figures for the second time this season as Washington shot a season-high .547 from the field. Guard John Wall led the effort for Washington with 25 points, marking his 20th game of the season with 20 points or more.

“We knew [the Heat] were going to come in with a chip on their shoulder after losing two in a row,” Wall said after the game. “This is a game they probably thought they could get back on track, and we just wanted to come out here and compete. Against those teams, you just got to find a way to make shots. Tonight we made shots that we’ve been making on the road that we haven’t been making at home…just moving the ball and trusting each other as a group while we are out there as a team.”

Despite scoring a season-high 43 points in the first quarter, the Wizards began to lose control of the game in the second half. Shane Battier and Norris Cole helped kick off a 16-2 run for the Heat to end the third quarter, trimming the Wizards’ lead to just nine points.

Fortunately for Washington fans – who had to overpower a core group of Miami supporters eager to see the Heat dominate – the Wizards kept things together in the fourth quarter, outscoring Miami 28-20. [Read more...]

Washington Wizards Game 36 Recap: Road luck continues as Wall, Nene lead Wiz in Win over Bulls

Following two tough losses, the Washington Wizards reached .500 on the road with a 102-88 win over the Chicago Bulls Monday night.

John Wall and Nene each posted 19 points for the Wizards, as Wall added seven rebounds and five assists the effort. All but Trevor Booker and Marcin Gortat reached double-digit points before day’s end and Gortat came up big with 11 rebounds on the night.

All in all, it was a well-rounded effort. Washington moved the ball well with 25 total assists. They outpaced the Bulls and stayed in front from the get-go, never appearing to run out of gas as they had in recent matchups.

Just three and a half minutes into the second quarter, the Wizards carried a 36-21 lead thanks, in part, to a series of missed jumpers and bad passes by Chicago.

The Bulls bounced back a bit, trimming the lead to as few as six points on a Carlos Boozer jumper minutes later. But, with four and a half minutes remaining in the half, Trevor Ariza sank back-to-back threes to put Washington up by double-digit points once more.

Wall came through with four free throws and a layup, and Ariza added another free basket to help carry the Wizards to a 56-43 lead at the half.

The Bulls outscored the Wizards 25-22 in the third quarter, which featured nine of Boozer’s 19 points on the night. Taj Gibson’s shot with three seconds to go narrowed Washington’s lead to 75-68, but Garrett Temple quickly answered with a 30-foot shot at the buzzer. [Read more...]

Washington Wizards Game 32 Recap: Beal’s 21 points help Wizards top Charlotte

It’s official. As the season stands now, the 15-and-17 Washington Wizards have earned more wins on the road than at the Verizon Center.

The latest road victory – a 97-83 win over the Charlotte Bobcats (15-21) Tuesday night – featured a stellar performance from Bradley Beal and a 17-0 third-quarter run that helped the Wizards edge the Bobcats once and for all.

In addition to Beal’s 21 points, Marcin Gortat and John Wall added 18 and 17 respectively, while Trevor Booker and Martell Webster rounded out the double-digit points club for the night. [Read more...]

Washington Wizards Game 31 Recap: Wizards drop third straight at home

Last season, the Washington Wizards no doubt reached a point at which they looked forward to avoiding long road stints. As of late, it seems the tables have turned as the squad can’t seem to find their groove at home.

The Wizards dropped their third straight game at the Verizon Center Sunday night, falling 112-96 to the red-hot Golden State Warriors. With the loss, the Wizards are now 7-8 at home and set to embark on a three-game road stint beginning Tuesday night in Charlotte.

Despite a sluggish first quarter, the Wizards pulled things together before halftime, largely on the backs of Nene and John Wall.

Golden State’s Andrew Bogut and Andre Iguodala helped prevent the Wizards from pulling in front for long as the two took advantage of free baskets and Washington’s missed shots. As such, the two teams entered halftime tied 58-58.

Before the end of the third quarter, however, Washington endured plenty of boos from its own fan base. The Warriors tallied 13 points before Washington made its first basket of the half – a long three from Wall.

 By the time Nene made the Wizards’ second shot of the third quarter, Washington trailed Golden State 77-63.

In fact, the two shots marked the Wizards’ only baskets until Martell Webster sank one with little more than two minutes remaining in the quarter. Otto Porter Jr. made two free throws before Jan Vesely and Nene combined for six points, but Washington entered the fourth quarter with a seemingly insurmountable 92-73 deficit.

“I thought we were pretty energized in the first half,” Wizards head coach Randy Wittman said after the game. “Both teams played at a pretty high level. We’re leaving it somewhere in the locker room and not bringing it out, and they [Golden State] did. They played two halves, we played a half. It’s playing through our adversity at the offensive end, we’ve got to learn.”

Wall and Nene each led the Wizards’ scoring efforts with just 14 points apiece. Although Webster and Marcin Gortat each recorded double-digit points, Washington could do little to make up for the 26 points tallied by Golden State’s Klay Thompson.

“I think sometimes we take it for granted the skills we have, and what we are capable of doing as a team, and we let other teams come in and just take our house from us,” Beal said. “That is something we have to stay away from, and we got to protect this first, and now we have to put this behind us and try to get games on the road now.”

Washington Wizards Game 30 Recap: Wizards endure setback with loss to Raptors

John Wall’s 20-point games streak came to an end, Trevor Ariza was ejected long before the third quarter ended and the Washington Wizards showed few signs of life in what amounted to a 101-88 loss to the Toronto Raptors at the Verizon Center Friday night.

The Wizards entered the contest just a half-game behind Toronto in the standings, but the Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry did their part to widen the margin. The two combined for 39 points and 16 of the Raptors’ 29 assists.

The Wizards started off on the wrong foot right from the get-go. Just three and a half minutes into action, the team had already fallen behind 14-5 thanks to Lowry and DeRozan’s 12 early points for Toronto.

What ground the Wizards regained coming out of an early timeout was lost by the end of the quarter as they trailed 26-17.

Nene and Kevin Seraphin helped rejuvenate the squad – if only just a little – with early baskets in the second quarter. Seraphin’s dunk and Nene’s 15-footer helped pulled the Wizards within four points of catching the Raptors. Unfortunately for Washington, the team went another two and a half minutes without scoring and, in that timeframe, Toronto crept back to a 10-point lead.

Before halftime, Wall and Martell Webster breathed life back in the Wizards and the teams headed to the locker rooms with just three points between them.

But, in the third quarter, the Raptors went on to outscore the Wizards 36-16. In case there was any question of the Wizards’ frustrations, Ariza made them apparent by earning himself an ejection for arguing a technical foul call.

Despite the fact that five Wizards ended the night with double-digit points, Washington never managed to slow the Raptors. Yet, the Wizards entered the final quarter down 84-61 with little hope of recovering ground.

“Anybody can get hot and start scoring at any time on this team,” John Wall said after the game. “We’re a team where we’re better when there’s five to six guys in double figures and you might have a different leading scorer every night and we know that’s the way we need to play and there’s nothing wrong with that. We know guys can make big shots and make big plays, but we don’t have one guy that we can put our back on and say, ‘Do that for a whole game.’”

At last, Washington outscored the Raptors 27-17 in the final 12 minutes of play, but their efforts proved far too little too late.

With the 101-88 loss, the Wizards are now just 7-7 at home.

“[I was] shocked probably more than surprised,” said head coach Randy Wittman after the game. “Being a game where they are a half-game ahead of you in the standings, being a home game, ‘shocked’ would be a better word.  [It was] very disappointing and we can’t play that way. We’ve proven over the last couple of years you can’t play that way. And, we’re getting concerned with, ‘Why am I coming out? How many minutes am I getting? How many shots am I getting?’ rather than, ‘What is the team doing?’ and we didn’t do that tonight and that is disappointing because we’re not good enough to do it that way. For us to come out and start the game, and start the fourth quarter like that is disappointing.  I don’t know how else to put it. We have to come back together. It is not about ‘me’ it’s about ‘us’ and it has to be focused on us and it was focused on individuals rather than the team tonight.”

Washington Wizards Game 29 Recap: Wiz fall to Mavs on New Year’s

John Wall drives the baseline against the Dallas Mavericks Jan. 1, 2014 (photo courtesy Monumental Network)

John Wall drives the baseline against the Dallas Mavericks Jan. 1, 2014 (photo courtesy Monumental Network)

John Wall scored over 20 points for the eighth straight game, Trevor Booker had a career-high 19 rebounds and Dirk Nowitski had a season-low nine points, which all sounds like it might up to a Washington Wizards win to start the new year. But Monta Ellis dropped 16 of his 23 points in the second half and the Wiz froze up, as the Dallas Mavericks walked out of Verizon Center with an 87-78 win.

The Wizards failed in their most recent attempt to go over .500, falling to 14-15 with the loss. [Read more...]

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