April 24, 2014

Bradley Beal’s Late-Game Heroics Lift Washington Wizards To 2-0 Series Lead Over Chicago Bulls

After game one of the series saw the front-court duo of Nene and Marcin Gortat lead the Washington Wizards to victory, the back-court tandem of Bradley Beal and John Wall led the way to a dramatic 101-99 win in overtime to give Washington a 2-0 series lead over the Chicago Bulls.

Last Sunday, Beal and Wall combined for just 29 points. On Tuesday night, the young guards totaled 44 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. With Gortat and Nene struggling, it was clear the guards were going to have to win this game. For Beal, he took the game into his own hands late and shined.

Washington came out fast and made their first three shots to jump out to a 7-0 lead to start the game. At one point, the Wizards lead by 17, but took an 11 point lead into the second quarter. It was as good a quarter as we have seen all season and they had taken the crowd out of the game.

At the four-minute mark in the second quarter, Beal and Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich locked horns in an emotional moment that warranted double technicals. From that point forward, the game became much more physical. The once quiet hometown crowd came alive and the fight was on.

Along with a new-found intensity, Chicago also discovered quite the trio in D.J. Augustin, Taj Gibson and Hinrich. For the game, Augustin led with 25 points, but the trio poured in 59 points. In the second quarter, the Wizards didn’t have an answer for them defensively. With those three on the floor, the Bulls closed the lead to seven at halftime.

Throughout the regular season, the Wizards had a difficult time coming out of the locker room strong for the second half. On Tuesday night, they once again fell victim to that bad habit. Chicago outscored Washington 26-14 in the third quarter to take a five point lead into the final period.

Washington was then able to match Chicago’s intensity in a fourth quarter battle for the ages. With Nene, Wall and Beal all in foul trouble, everything seemed to be going the way of the Bulls. However, it was the Wizards’ youngest star that took the game over.

20-year old Bradley Beal dropped 11 fourth-quarter points to tie the game and force overtime. He showcased his wide array of skills by making two threes, but also finishing at the rim. While he did spoil a chance to take the lead in the final minute, it was his effort that gave Washington new life.

Washington jumped out to a 97-91 lead to begin the extra period thanks to six points from Nene. Trevor Booker and Wall then combined to go 4-for-4 from the free throw line to put the game just out of reach.

With two seconds remaining, Kirk Hinrich drove to the basket, guarded by Nene. Hinrich attempted a layup, but a foul was called on Nene, his sixth. The veteran Bulls’ guard then missed both free throws and Washington was able to secure the game winning rebound.

The Wizards now take a 2-0 lead in the series and head back to D.C. and hometown crowd at the Verizon Center. While it’s difficult for a team to comeback from being down 2-0, the past two games have been too closely contested to assume the Wizards can wrap it up at home.

The series now heads back to D.C. with the Wizards in control two games to none. Game three tips off in the Verizon Center on Friday night at 8 PM EST.

Washington Wizards Game 1 Recap: Wiz come back to beat Bulls on road

Behind 24 points from Nene and some timely veteran presence from backup point guard Andre Miller, the Washington Wizards came back from a 13-point third quarter deficit to beat the Chicago Bulls in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals matchup 102-93.

The Wizards outscored Chicago 30-18 in the fourth quarter.

Nene was a force all game, dominating in the paint and drilling medium range jumpers with equal ease. He grabbed eight boards and handed out three assists to lead the Wizards in every sense of the word.

Miller was outstanding in a reserve role. He entered in the third quarter while the Wizards were facing some of their deepest deficits and jump-started the comeback, slashing through the lane for a couple of easy layups and completely shutting down Bulls PG D.J. Augustine. Miller finished with 10 points in 13 minutes.

Trevor Ariza added 18 points and John Wall chipped in with 16. Wall was just 4-of-14 from the floor and Bradley Beal, who finished with 13 points, went 3-of-11. Marcin Gortat has 13 rebounds to go with 15 points.

Augustine and Kirk Hinrichs finished with 16 points apiece to pace Chicago.

The Wizards, ranked 25th in the league in free throw shooting, went to the line 35 times and made 26 but made all 12 of their fourth-quarter attempts. They were 12-for-19 in the first half.

Game 2 is Tuesday in Chicago at 9:35 pm ET.

Washington Wizards Game 81 Recap: Wiz Scorch Undermanned Heat

While the Miami Heat opted to sit LeBron James and Chris Bosh, the Washington Wizards seized the opportunity, recording one of their strongest offensive performances of the year in their 114-93 win Monday night at the Verizon Center.

The Heat essentially forfeited the top seed and home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs to the Indiana Pacers by sitting their star players, but Washington had no reservations about controlling the pace of the game.

“We’ve seen enough of these games where they haven’t played some of their guys and we lost,” said Wizards head coach Randy Wittman after the game. “Anytime you can get out and play… I thought the way we did from an offensive standpoint, moving forward, can’t hurt you.”

Washington led by as many as 36 points and shot 59 percent from the field. Trevor Ariza seemed to bounce back from his recent bout with the flu, leading the Wizards’ scoring with 25 points on the night.  Nene and Al Harrington added 18 and 16 respectively, while Bradley Beal and Marcin Gortat rounded out the double-digit club. [Read more...]

Wizards lose Nene for up to six weeks with knee sprain

Press release from the Wizards regarding Nene’s injury in Sunday night’s game against Cleveland.

Wizards forward/center Nene underwent an MRI exam today that revealed an MCL sprain in his left knee. The injury occurred in the third quarter of last night’s 96-83 win at Cleveland.  He will miss approximately six weeks.

Nene has appeared in 49 games for Washington this season, averaging 14.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.24 steals in 30.1 minutes.

Just when the Wizards win three in a row and finally look like they were gaining momentum toward a serious playoff push, they lose their most valuable big man for the bulk of the rest of the season.

Washington Wizards Game 56 Recap: Wall’s 21 points help Wizards top Cavaliers

When John Wall and Kyrie Irving go head-to-head, even a contest between two teams struggling to stay in playoff talks can be billed as a marquee matchup.

On Sunday night, however, Wall’s performance topped Irving’s as the Wizards’ point guard posted 21 points, nine assists and three rebounds to help Washington a 96-83 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena.

Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza added 17 and 15 points, respectively, and the Wizards maintained control of the game since going on a 12-0 run halfway through the first quarter. The Cavaliers gained enough momentum to trim the Wizards’ lead to just three points by the end of the quarter, but Washington stayed a step ahead for the duration of the game.

And, it wasn’t without pomp and circumstance. [Read more...]

Washington Wizards Game 55 Recap: Wiz edge Pelicans on Nene’s last-second slam

ANDRE MILLER DEBUTS WITH FIVE POINTS, THREE ASSISTS IN 16 MINUTES OF PLAY

With only seconds remaining, John Wall drove the lane and pitched to Nene in a final effort to edge the New Orleans Pelicans at the Verizon Center Saturday night.

The drive proved successful as Nene slammed it in with just 0.9 seconds remaining to put Washington in front once and for all by the score of 94-93.

WIth the shot, Nene reached 30 points on the night to match his career high.

“That’s big. We know he’s not going to get 30 every night,” Wall said after the game. “That’s the way we want him to play, like he did, freely. This seems like the best he did. Right away, when he caught the ball, he knew that he wanted to shoot his jump shot. He didn’t hesitate or pump fake, that’s the way you got to be.”

The Pelicans and Wizards were neck and neck for nearly the entire contest. After finishing the second quarter tied at 43 points apiece, the two teams tallied exactly 23 points in the third quarter.

In the final 12 minutes, the Pelicans at one point slid ahead by as many as four points after Alexis Ajinca came up with a three-point play before Anthony Morrow hit a 23-foot three.

The newly acquired Andre Miller responded by hitting the first of two free throws, but Morrow added another two-point shot to New Orleans’ effort.

With little more than six minutes remaining, Nene stepped up with a jumper before Miller laid one in, but the Pelicans remained one step ahead, thanks to Anthony Davis and Ajinca. [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 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 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 24 Recap: Nene’s return helps lift Wizards over Brooklyn

After missing four games with right foot tendinitis, Nene returned to the Washington Wizards lineup in time to help the squad to a 113-107 win, snapping the Brooklyn Nets’ three-game winning streak Wednesday night.

Nene posted 17 points off the bench and added three rebounds, but it was John Wall who powered much of the Wizards’ run with 21 points and six assists to help counter the season-high 27 points notched by Brooklyn’s Paul Pierce.

Brook Lopez proved the first menace to the Wizards’ defense. Washington gifted Brooklyn’s center six free throws in the first quarter alone and he broke through with a jumper and two-point shot to keep the Nets within two, down 30-28, to start the second quarter.

After a rather quiet start to the second quarter, Wall and Nene made their presence known with less than five minutes remaining in the half.

Wall went back-to-back with a layup and 25-footer to make it 50-43 Washington and Nene added another six points in a grand total of 45 seconds via a jumper, layup and two free throws. Needless to say, the Wizards nearly carried a 10-point lead to halftime, but Lopez’s final basket of the half made it 59-53 Wizards.

Washington held Brooklyn at bay in the third quarter but gained momentum on Nene’s driving dunk, which helped take the Wizards to an 85-77 lead into the final 12 minutes of basketball.

Pierce and Lopez did their best to ignite Brooklyn’s offense, but a driving dunk by Wall and a host of made free throws kept the Nets out of reach. All told, the Wizards went 25-for-30 on free throws, compared to Brooklyn’s 20-for-24. They also created their own opportunities by recording 51 rebounds, compared to the Nets’ 31.

With the win, the Wizards are 5-8 in away games, which brings the team just just two victories away from matching last season’s total road wins. In 2012-2013, Washington went 7-34 on the road.

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