The Washington Wizards may be just 8-29, but their recent play with point guard John Wall back in the lineup has them trending up. The Wizards grabbed a big 112-108 road win against the Denver Nuggets on Friday night, which was their fourth win in their last five games.
Wizards center Emeka Okafor told Michael Lee of The Washington Post after the game that the team is better than their record shows:
"Our record isn't reflective of who we are, how we've played and how we're playing,"Emeka Okafor said as the Wizards handed Denver just its third home loss of the season. "We're starting to turn the corner, winning four out of five and feeling good. Starting to close games with confidence."
Okafor had 10 points, seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks in the thrilling win over the Nuggets. Washington pulled out the victory late thanks to a huge block of Ty Lawson by Wall, who then iced the game with two clutch free throws. This latest win is part of a recent stretch that has the Wizards looking like the team many hoped they would be heading into the year.
After going just 20-46 last season, Washington was primed to make some improvements this year and perhaps challenge for one of the last playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. However, Wall hurt his knee before the season even started, derailing the Wizards' plans. The team got off to a wretched 5-28 start without the young point guard in the lineup, although they did steal surprise wins against the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder.
With Wall back in the lineup, Washington has started to put things together. The Wizards have gone 3-1 since Wall's return, with the only loss being a one-point defeat on the road at the hands of the Sacramento Kings.
Wall has certainly been a catalyst during the recent surge, averaging 13.5 points and 8.0 assists while sporting a stellar PER of 24.33. The 22-year-old has notched double-doubles in each of the last two games, although he did miss clutch free throws and a potential game-winner against the Kings. But Wall atoned for his mistakes against the Nuggets.
Another big reason for the Wizards' strong play of late is the performance of No. 3 overall pick Bradley Beal. The shooting guard scored 23 points in Friday's win and is averaging 20.8 points on 52.9 percent from the field and a scorching 68.0 percent from three in the last five games.
While the Wizards dug themselves too large of a hole with their poor start to make a playoff run, this season could still be considered somewhat of a success if the team continues their excellent play and the youngsters develop. With Wall and Beal forming a dynamic young backcourt, the future is bright in Washington.