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Wizards pass tough tests vs. Spurs, Bulls

Photo Credit: RantSports.com

Photo Credit: RantSports.com

After getting destroyed by the Atlanta Hawks over the weekend, the Washington Wizards faced another daunting task this week. First up on Tuesday was a date against the defending champion San Antonio Spurs. Then on Wednesday, the Wizards had to travel to The Windy City to take on the Chicago Bulls. Washington passed both tough tests with flying colors, coming up with two impressive victories and two covers, according to VegasInsider.com.

The 101-93 victory over the Spurs was Washington’s first win over San Antonio since 2005. John Wall led the way with 25 points and eight assists, although he didn’t score a single point in the fourth quarter. Instead, Kevin Seraphin played the hero on offense, as he poured in 11 of his 17 points off the bench in the final frame. The Wizards’ defense also came up big, holding the Spurs to 36.0 percent shooting in the fourth quarter.

Following such a thrilling victory, you couldn’t have blamed Washington for a let down in Chicago the next night. And at first, it looked like that’s exactly what was going to happen. Derrick Rose torched Wall to the tune of 17 first-quarter points as the Bulls built an 11-point first-half lead, but the Wizards didn’t back down. Washington outscored Chicago by 13 points in the third quarter to take control of the game, and then the Wizards used superb offensive execution down the stretch to hold off the Bulls’ charge.

While Rose finished with 32 points, Wall had a terrific game himself, putting up 21 points and nine assists. Four of those assists came in the third quarter when Washington took control, as the young point guard dominated Chicago’s defense in pick-and-roll. The Wizards racked up 29 assists on the night, with Nene adding eight and Bradley Beal handing out six. Paul Pierce led the team in scoring with 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting.

The win was Washington’s fifth straight at the United Center dating back to last year’s first-round playoff series, which they won in five games. This year’s Bulls may be a top favorite in the Eastern Conference, but the Wizards pose a major problem thanks to a balanced starting lineup. Nene and Marcin Gortat are a load down low, and they can match up with Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah. Nene has made Gasol’s life a living hell over the last two games with his strength in the post.

In the backcourt, Wall and Beal can match up with Rose and Jimmy Butler. Beal gave Butler a major headache in the postseason last year, and the Florida product did it again on Wednesday night. Pierce is also trouble on the wing despite his advanced age thanks to his experience and big shot-making ability.

At 27-12, the Wizards are second in the East, four games behind the red-hot Hawks and a half-game ahead of the Toronto Raptors. Washington looks like a real threat to win the conference, and they’re a team Chicago would certainly like to avoid in the playoffs.


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