A look back at the 10 most memorable games of the Wizards' 2013-14 regular season, in chronological order.
Wizards 116 76ers 102, November 6, 2013
The season did not start off well. A pair of losses to perceived weaker teams in Detroit and Philadelphia followed by a loss in Miami left the Wizards at 0-3. A date with Philadelphia in Philly looked to be crucial for the team's early season confidence. All the Wizards did was go out and sink a franchise record 18 three pointers en route to blowing out the Sixers by 14. After mostly struggling offensively through the first three games, the Wizards scored 39 in the first quarter and the ballgame was never in doubt. John Wall showed off that jump shot he'd been working on all summer, hitting a career-high five threes. The game in general set the tone for the Wizards offense all year, as the barrage of threes was where Washington saw a lot of their offensive success. Webster hit four, Ariza hit three and Beal hit three, while Wall dished out nine assists, with over half of them coming on made threes.
This game wouldn't completely right the ship, as the Wizards would of course start the season 2-7. That being said, it was crucial to a team that stumbled out of the gate, and was historically one of best shooting nights in the franchise's history.
Wizards 116 Lakers 111, November 26, 2013
Nene has had a long and successful NBA career to this point. And it could be argued that his best personal performance came on November 26 in a win at Verizon Center over the LA Lakers. The Lakers came in playing some quality basketball having won three in a row, and Nene and Wall torched them. Nene scored a career-high 30 on 13-for-22 shooting from the field. The big Brazilian said after the game, "I feel like wine. You get old. You get better." He was dominant in the high scoring contest, consistently bullying Hill and Gasol on his way to the best scoring night of his career.
This one wasn't just notable for Nene though, as Wall also had a huge night. Wall scored 31 points on 10/18 shooting, marking the third consecutive game he scored 30 in. This was how he backed up his Eastern Conference Player of the Week performance the week before. Wall was at his best when the game was on the line, scoring 11 in the final 4:40 to seal the game for Washington.
This marked the first time a pair of Wizards had scored 30 in a game since 2009 when Arenas and Jamison got it done. They also became only the fourth duo to record 30+ point games against the Lakers in the last five years.
Wizards 102 Knicks 101, December 16, 2013
The Wizards came into the 2013-14 season without a win at MSG since December of 2006, or an almost eight year drought and a 10 game losing streak. Bradley Beal took matters into his own hands and ended all of that. Beal drove to the hoop on Udrih and hit a layup with six seconds remaining to give the Wizards a one point lead, and after Anthony's last second three was off the mark, the Wizards had a win at MSG. On the final possession, the Knicks and Mike Woodson elected not to use a timeout, instead allowing Anthony to go the length of the floor, and he did not end up with a good look. After the game Beal remarked, "It's a great overall win for us. We haven't won here since 2006. That's a big accomplishment for us how we stuck through adversity. As a team, everybody stepped up."
Not only did Beal hit the game winner, he also scored the final seven points for the Wizards, including a deep three with 45 seconds to go which tied the game. It was also Beal's first game back from injury, making it all the more impressive. Beal finished with 21 points on 9/16 shooting for the evening. Webster led the team with 30 points, his season-high.
MSG is undoubtedly one of the toughest places to play in the league, and seeing Beal break the collective heart of a sold out MSG was certainly one of the most memorable moments of the year. The Wizards would follow up the victory at MSG with a win at Barclay's Center over the Nets, giving them the New York sweep.
Wizards 114 Heat 97, January 15, 2014
As I'm writing this, Miami is playing for an NBA title. On January 15th, the Wizards made them look like anything but a championship contender. The Wizards jumped out to a 43-18 lead after the first quarter and never looked back, eventually winning by 17. Miami got as close as nine in the fourth quarter, but John Wall played the role of closer, hitting his free throws, finding the open man and finally knocking down a pair of clutch jumpers inside of two minutes. Wall finished with 25 points, nine assists and five boards in the route. Seven Wizards were in double figures in one of the most balanced attacks of the year. The victory was punctuated by
Nene putting Lebron on a poster
This was a game to remember for the obvious reason of blowing out the defending champs, but it was also the single best quarter the Wizards played the entire season. It was probably the best showcase for just how good this team could be when everything was clicking.
Wizards 96 Thunder 81, February 1, 2014
Similar to the win over Miami, this one stands out because it was a thorough beating of one of the very elite teams in the league. The Thunder came in as the hottest team in basketball, winners of ten straight, and were dismantled by Wall and the Wizards.
Like the win over Miami, the Wizards jumped all over the Thunder, going up by 12 after the first quarter. The Thunder made it a game by half time, but the third quarter, a quarter which for much of the year was the Wizards Achilles' Heel, saw Washington put the game away. Durant scored 26 points, but did it on just 8/21 shooting including 0/6 from three point range, and he also turned the ball over five times. Ariza was on Durant for much of the contest and said afterwards that the way to defend him was to, "Just stay in his grille, man. Just try to make him take tough shots. Try not to give him no easy, easy looks." The Thunder had averaged 110 points per game over their 10 game win streak, but the Wizards held them to 81 and forced 21 turnovers.
Wall had one of his finest all around efforts of the year with 17 points, 15 assists (against just two turnovers), four rebounds and six steals. It was the first 15 point, 15 assist and five steal performance for the Wizards since Rod Strickland in 1999. Gortat had one of his typical performances with 14 points and 14 boards.
This game was another one of those performances where you saw the true potential of this team. I can't think of a better defensive game the Wizards played all year than this one.
Wizards 100 Trail Blazers 90, February 3, 2014
The win over the Blazers on February 3rd was succinctly summed up by Bradley Beal. "Finally." The victory was impressive in itself, as Portland came in as one of the very best teams in the NBA at that point in the year with a sterling 34-14 record. The Wizards used a big third quarter to pull away, and ended up winning by 10 as Wall scored 22, Ariza had 20 and Seraphin had a season-high 19 off the bench.
The real importance of this win though, was getting the proverbial monkey off the team's back, and finally getting over the .500 hump. Wall said afterwards, "It's only one game over, but, yeah, it's a big relief." The game marked the first time in Wall's career that the team was over .500, as it had been over four years since that mark was achieved. It was also the seventh crack that the team had at getting over .500 during the 2013-14 campaign, hence Beal's sentiment. Nobody was awarding a trophy for getting a game over .500, but it certainly seemed to be important to the team's psyche, and it represented a move further away from the mediocrity of the past couple of years.
Wizards 94 Pelicans 93, February 22, 2014
Over the course of 44 regular season wins, the Wizards did not have a single true buzzer beater. The win over the Pelicans at Verizon Center was the closest the Wizards came. Down one with time running out, Wall drove the lane and found Nene, who slammed it home emphatically with under a second to play for the one point victory. Wall described the final play as such, "I wanted to shoot a jump shot. I saw Anthony Davis come and I wanted to whip it around to (Marcin Gortat). But I saw (Jeff) Withey come at the same time and I saw Nene right there and that was the easiest, safest pass and luckily he got it off in time." The game was a rollercoaster ride the whole way, with numerous lead changes down the stretch, but Wall and Nene found a way for the Wizards to finish on top.
Nene's final bucket of the game allowed him to tie his career-high of 30 points scored, doing it on a tidy 13/19 from the field.
Wizards 134 Raptors 129 (3OT), February 27, 2014
Game of the year in my mind without a doubt, as the win over the Raptors on February 27th had absolutely everything. The Raptors had the Wizards number going into their final encounter of the year, but the Wizards got on the board in the season series in a game that was the longest in terms of time in Raptors franchise history.
The end of regulation and each overtime period featured drama. In the dying moments of regulation, Gortat hit a layup to tie things up with five seconds to play and Lowry sprinted down the court but just missed a seven footer as time expired to send the game into OT. In the first OT, Wall annihilated Lowry's attempt at the hoop which would've won the game and we headed to double OT. Beal looked to have won the game at the buzzer after Derozan tied it with two seconds to go, but the ball left Beal's hand just after the clock ran out. Finally in triple overtime, the Wizards got some big time stops down the stretch, not allowing the Raptors a field goal in the final two minutes, and came away with the exhausting victory.
Marcin Gortat became another Wizard to set a career-high for points scored as he had 31 while playing 51 minutes. Four Wizards played 49 minutes or more including Gortat, Wall, Beal and Ariza. Wall also had 31 points and his chemistry with Gortat was clear in this one, with the two of them working the pick and roll to perfection constantly down the stretch. It was an exhausting ballgame for everybody who was a part of it, as Randy Wittman said, "My feet and back are hurting and I didn't even play." Gortat's words really summed up what the win meant, "The feeling is great. We won the game, we've proven that we can beat this team. We really build the chemistry, we really build the team spirit with this win."
Wizards 122 76ers 103, March 1, 2014
Something that became a trend during the 2013-14 season was Wizards' veterans going off for career-highs. The most impressive of those performances may have been Trevor Ariza's 40 on March 1st, in a blowout win over the 76ers. In front of a sold out crowd on hand to celebrate the retirement of Allen Iverson's no. 3, Ariza knocked down his first six threes (eight overall) en route to 24 first quarter points and ended up 14/23 from the field overall. It was special for Ariza, and even more special that he could have the performance of his career on a night honoring one of his heroes.
"What he brought to the game made me love the game the way I love it," he said. "He was amazing for a lot of years and he definitely changed the culture of the NBA. This was his night and, I guess, that's definitely a thanks for all the things he's done throughout my life and my career. Just being a fan of his since I was young, it's great to be able to perform that way on a big night like that for him."
Wizards 118 Celtics 92, April 2, 2014
On April 2nd in a win over the Celtics, it was confirmed. The Wizards were headed back to the playoffs. The game was never in doubt, as the Wizards dominated the Celtics to the tune of a 26 point win, their largest margin of victory over the course of the campaign. Along with the significance of clinching a playoff spot, it was also probably the Wizards' best offensive performance of the year. The team shot a scorching hot 62% from the field and seven Wizards finished with eight or more points. It was the highest shooting percentage for the Wizards franchise since 2001 and the highest the Celtics had allowed since 2003.
The playoffs were a priority for this team since day one of the campaign, and this win achieved one of the team's primary goals. Wall summed it up by saying, "It's everything I've been waiting for, as being a point guard, and trying to learn how to lead in this league, and become a better player. But also I think the fans deserve it. I mean, the tough times they've been through, booing us and us feeling bad when we're not playing good or playing the right way."