Wizards Ready to Jump Over .500 Mark

Posted on December 31, 2013 by Jeremy Hyman

Postgame

The Wizards could not ring in the new year the right way, as they fell to the Mavericks at Verizon Center, 87-78. The game was back and forth just about the entire second half, with the Mavericks pulling ahead in the final couple of minutes as the Wizards went ice cold offensively. The Mavs closed the game on a 17-4 run over the final 4:40 after the Wizards had been up by four. The Wizards did a great job defensively in holding the Mavs, who average over 100 a game to just 87, tied for their lowest scoring night of the year. The Wizards just did not have their shooting boots on all night, as they shot just 37.5% from the field and a woeful 5/24 from beyond the arc. The Mavericks weren't much better shooting 38.5% and 6/24 from three, but they got to the free throw line 23 times compared to just 10 for the Wizards, which was the difference. Trevor Booker was a difference maker for the Wizards, grabbing a career high 19 boards to go along with 10 points. John Wall got his eighth straight 20+ point game, finishing with 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists. The bench's streak of scoring 30+ points was snapped at seven, as they managed just 16. Monta Ellis paced all scorers with 23. - Jacob Raim



Pregame

Happy New Year all!

We're closing in on tip-off here at Verizon Center as the Wizards host the Mavs at a special start time, 6pm, here on New Year's Day.

The Wizards will look to begin 2014 the same way they finished 2013. With a win. In fact, they won five of their last six, including four on the road, to conclude the last fiscal year.

If the Wizards want to get over .500, they'll need to beat a tough Dallas Mavericks team that has won its last three road games.

They took down the Timberwolves on Monday night in Minnesota, thanks to a season-high 32 points from the veteran Shawn Marion. The Mavs team is filled with veterans and that's one of the main reasons they are off to an 18-13 start. They score over 103 points per game and although their two biggest scorers, Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis average over 20 each, Randy Wittman told the media in pregame that he's not worried about one matchup, but the entire Mavs' roster:


Wittman also provided health updates on some of the injured Wizards, including Al Harrington who is progressing through his rehab.

Bradley Beal was limited to a season-low nine points when these two teams last met in Dallas, but he's scored in double figures in every game but one since. The Mavericks really made things difficult in that game for Beal and spent a lot of energy taking away his shots. We'll see how they adjust in tonight's game.

John Wall is playing the best basketball of his career and has now eclipsed the 20 point plateau in seven straight games. He's been a big reason why the Wizards have been successful lately and as mentioned in the practice report below, it's been his defense that has been mightily impressive.

The Wizards haven't been over .500 in the month of January since 2008. If they can find a way to take down the Mavs here at home today, they'll end that stat and be 15-14 on the year.

We'll be live chatting at 6pm from Verizon Center.



Practice Report

The Wizards held their final practice of 2013 on Tuesday afternoon at Verizon Center. A day after their comeback win in Detroit, it was back to business for the now 14-14 Wizards.

They will enter the new year at .500. They have not been over .500 in the month of January since 2008. Nor have they been even close. Though they will certainly admit this season hasn't been perfect and there are still lots of areas to improve, there's no denying that they have taken great strides towards becoming a winning team.

Wednesday's clash with the Dallas Mavericks will be another good test to see where the Wizards stand. The Mavs have won three straight road games, including wins over the Rockets, Bulls, and Timberwolves. At 18-13, they would be the third best team in the Eastern Conference, but as it stands are in eighth place in the west.

The Wizards have won five of their last six, with four of those five wins coming on the road. John Wall has scored at least 20 points in seven straight games, but it is not his offense that head coach Randy Wittman thinks is the reason for his recent success, but his defense:


Wittman also spoke about how different his team is today from the last time they played the Mavericks in Dallas and how the focus won't necessarily be to get over .500, but to keep playing the right way and then having the record take care of itself.

John Wall agreed. He said "we are completely better at everything" and credited the team's improved ball movement and defense as to why they are so much better now compared to when they faced the Mavs in mid-November.


When the team is winning, things are more fun. As evident in today's Courtside Report, presented by adidas with Garrett Temple. Be sure to watch until the end to catch Martell Webster's lens cleaning mid-interview. Thankfully Casey didn't get too rattled.

And if you missed it from last night's return flight from Detroit, the guys posed for a shot on the plane after beating the Pistons.

Wednesday's New Year's Day #WizMavs game will start an hour earlier than usual with a 6pm tip set at Verizon Center.

Happy New Year Wizards fans!

Posted in: Sports
next up:

#WizPistons Gameday Blog

December 30, 2013

Updates, news, notes, and analysis from Monday night's #WizPistons game in Detroit.

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