The end of the NBA season is near and the Washington Wizards believe they are not that far off from a better future. The Wizards will go for their third two-game winning streak of the season when they host Milwaukee at Verizon Center.
Even though it is the end of the season, it is important to try and develop and get better, said Wizards guard John Wall. We can be a good team. We just have to trust each other and get everybody healthy and we will be all right.
Walls comments came after the Wizards 87-84 win over the Bulls Monday in Chicago. The Wizards are not a healthy team. Nene and Trevor Booker have missed ten games with foot injuries and Roger Mason is out for the rest of the season after surgery on a broken finger.
Still the Wizards found a way against a highly motivated Bulls team in pursuit of the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Defense was the cornerstone of a Wizards effort that produced 11 blocked shots and held the Bulls to 38 percent shooting from the field. Off the bench Maurice Evans scored 14 points and Brian Cook had 8 rebounds.
Our defense was good, I thought that Mo Evans, for not having played much, came out ready and played well for us, said head coach Randy Wittman. This league is about opportunities and you have to be ready. I hope our young guys learn from that. Brian Cook also played well.
The Wizards would not have defeated the Bulls without the contributions of Evans and Cook. Before playing on Saturday against Cleveland, Evans did not play in the previous 12 games. Cook had only appeared in eight minutes in the three games before the win over the Bulls.
I've watched these guys battle all year, Evans said. The resiliency of this team really showed and that also shows how this team is growing up. This team has shown a lot of potential all year. With another good draft, and this core group, we have an opportunity to do something special in the future.
Evans and Cook are veterans, but it is the development of young players like center Kevin Seraphin that has the Wizards encouraged. Seraphins surge of improvement started before Nenes injury and has only increased with his minutes played. On Monday Seraphin scored 21 points, 13 rebounds and 5 blocked shots.
Still needs to have that idea of what is going on around him, Wittman said of Seraphins need to improve on his already strong defensive play. Its not so much a focus on the player he is guarding. He needs to be in a better position with help defending.
The Bucks are in a desperate push for the post season and will start play tonight 1.5 games behind Philadelphia for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The back court combination of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis is becoming more dangerous. Over the last seven games Jennings and Ellis have combined to average over 40 points and 12 assists per game.
For the Wizards confidence on offense begins with John Wall. After his production dipped in losses to the Knicks and Cavaliers, Wall responded with a better effort against the Bulls. Wall was only 5 of 15 from the field for 16 points, but managed the game well and only had one turnover.
He cant lose his edge and thats the most important thing, Wittman said. He can only play one way and that is with aggression whether things are going good or not. Especially with all the injuries we have, it cant be a walk up game. Make or miss, we really have to push the ball and get the ball up the floor.