The Break is Near: Washington battles to stay dominant in the East, as the All-Star break gets closer

wizvsthunder
Left: K. Durant (35), Right: J. Wall (2) Photo credit: wizofawes.com

By: Samuel Jalloh

All-Star weekend in the NBA is right around the corner; which means the half waypoint of the season is among us. Teams are now pushing themselves to the limit to rise in the rankings before the mid-season break hits.

Right now in the Eastern conference, the top four teams (Atlanta, Washington, Toronto, and Chicago) are all very close in record. Atlanta is still leading the East with an amazing 37-8 record with an active win streak of 16 games. Washington is seven games behind Atlanta with the next best record of (30-15) while Toronto is only a half game behind Washington at (29-10). Chicago is not behind by much with a (29-17) record.

Every game is now critical for Washington and the team is trying to hold on to the momentum they had coming into this season, despite having continuous 4th quarter trouble on the court.

The Wizards are in the middle of a 5-game Western conference battle again. Washington lost the first game against the Thunder (105-103) on Jan. 21st. The Thunder won after an impressive last second lay-up in overtime by point guard Russell Westbrook. Reigning MVP Kevin Durant, and point guard Russell Westbrook both scored over 30 points (34, 32 respectively). Nene was the scoring leader for Washington with 24 points. John Wall recorded another double double scoring 18 points, and 13 assist. John Wall is currently leading all point guards in double doubles with 24.

Washington traveled to Portland next to face the Trailblazers on Jan. 24th. After an intense match, the Wizards lost again (103-96). The Wizards are still showing weakness when it comes to closing games. Washington was outscored (58-41) in the second half this game. Portland forward L. Aldridge dominated the paint posting 26 points, 9 rebounds, and went (8-8) from the free throw line. This is the first game Aldridge has played since hurting his hand last Monday when Portland faced the Sacramento Kings. Point guard D. Lillard added another 20 points to their total. Washington Point guard John Wall was one assist shy of a double double scoring 25 points, and 9 assists.

The Wizards were on a two game losing streak, and headed to Denver to face the Nuggets. Despite giving Denver many opportunities, the Wizards won (117-115) in Overtime on Jan. 25th. Nuggets guards Ty Lawson played great in the loss scoring 31 points, 12 assists, and 3 steals. Wizards forward Kris Humphries was the man of the match scoring a season high 21 points, and 14 rebounds coming off the bench. John Wall also added another 19 points, 16 assists.

The Wizards are now (10-7) when facing Western conference teams. Having a positive record is good, but it won’t last long if Washington doesn’t find a way to close out the second half of games strong. In the Wizards last four losses, they have been outscored (111-71) in the 4th.

The Wizards face the L.A. Lakers, who just lost All-Star Kobe Bryant due to injury, and the Phoenix Suns. All-Star weekend starts on Feb. 13. Lets hope that the Wizards can put together a run that will keep them in a dominant position in the East.

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