The Washington Wizards won back-to-back games for the first time all regular season and it looks as though they’re figuring things out as a team.
After a 2-9 start, the Washington Wizards are now 4-9 and seem to be putting things together. On Monday night, they out-rebounded the Orlando Magic 41-34 as a team and finally created some distance for themselves with a big fourth quarter effort for a 117-109 victory.
After losing to the Magic last Friday night, the Wizards seemingly put it all together on a night where Bradley Beal struggled from behind the arc (2-of-10). Jeff Green put up 18 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the floor, 4-of-5 from 3-point range off the bench. It was his second strong effort off the bench for the second game in a row. He recorded a double-double (19 points and 10 rebounds) against the Miami Heat in the team’s 116-110 victory on Saturday night.
Beal still finished the game with 21 points, but it was Green and point guard John Wall who stole the show for the Wizards in the fourth quarter. Wall and Green combined 19 of the team’s 34 points in the fourth quarter as Washington won its second game in a row just when it looked like things couldn’t get any worse.
The Wizards offense woke up in the fourth quarter as it did in previous games. Both teams were tied up at 55 at halftime and tied up at 83 when the fourth quarter began. The final quarter has been Washington’s advantage during their current streak. In their last two games, they’ve outscored their opponents 67-51 in the final 12 minutes of play.
Wall finished the game with 25 points and 10 assists and four rebounds on 9-of-15 shooting from the floor and 2-of-3 shooting from the 3-point arc. He put up 10 points himself in the Wizards’ comeback victory over the Heat back on Saturday, finishing with 28 points in that game.
Wall has taken some criticism this season for his off-the-court decisions but on the court, he’s been their biggest asset. He is averaging 21.8 points, 8.1 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 1.0 blocks per contest this season despite shooting 29.8 percent from behind the arc. His shooting will improve as it has in the past two contests; he’s 5-of-8 from 3-point land in the last two wins.
As a team, the Wizards are still allowing a lot of 3-point field goals (12.8 per game), which ranks 28th in the NBA, but their efforts are improving in other areas. The Wiz have out-rebounded their opponent for two consecutive games, a positive to build upon during their two-game winning streak.
It helps Dwight Howard has returned to the rotation. He’s averaging 14.0 points and 12.0 rebounds per game in the last two contests. He snagged 16 rebounds (nine offensive) against Miami on Saturday night and eight in Monday night’s win over Orlando.
Howard and Green are emerging in the frontcourt as solid veterans in the rotation. Howard has even come up with an interesting team slogan out of their current state, too. “Nobody is going to remember November.”
Austin Rivers has been another veteran player that’s been a spark off the bench. He put up 18 off the bench in their comeback win against the Heat on Friday night as well. The Wizards will still need more for their younger supporting cast of players going forward if they hope to get over the hump.
However, there are also some concerning numbers from the last two games. Otto Porter Jr. is only averaging 6.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game in that span, while Kelly Oubre Jr. is averaging 3.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals per contest on 18.2 percent shooting from the floor and 14.3 percent shooting from 3-point range.
Oubre and Porter are a few guys to keep an eye on going forward, especially during a key stretch of November. With four straight home games coming up, Washington has a chance to change its current status in the Eastern Conference standings. The Wizards just need to play together, which usually raises their odds of winning but has been an issue early on this season.