Wizards' short-term goal is to move up to ninth

Wizards' short-term goal is to move up to ninth
April 1, 2013, 9:15 am
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Beal helps lift Wizards over the Raptors in his return

The Wizards don’t have a lot to shoot for on the surface because they’re not going to be in the playoffs, but they’re determined to play like they belong.

The Wizards (27-46) ended a two-game losing streak Sunday with a 109-92 win vs. the Toronto Raptors,  marking their most wins in a season since 2007-08 when they last qualified for the playoffs.  

With nine games left in the regular season, seven are against teams bound for postseason play.

The Wizards are 10th in the East and three games behind the Philadelphia 76ers (30-43), who they’re trying to leap.

Recent losses to the NBA’s two worst teams, the Charlotte Bobcats and Orlando Magic, were major setbacks.

“We came into that Orlando thinking we had that game won and ended up embarrassing ourselves,” small forward Martell Webster said of that 97-92 loss last week. “I don’t necessarily think of them beating us more than us shooting ourselves in the foot.

“To get the ninth spot, it’s going to have to take beating those teams. Left a sour taste in our mouths.”

Beating the Raptors was a start. They’ll face them again in Toronto this week. 

“That’s what we’re shooting for,” point guard John Wall said of ninth place. “We know we gave a game away in Orlando. … We’re approaching (the last nine games) like a playoff team, like we are fighting for the seventh or eighth seed.”

The Wizards could get an unintended assists from playoff teams trying to rest starters before the playoffs. The Heat sat LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers in a game with the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday. They come to Washington on April 10.

In the week ahead:

Tuesday vs. Chicago Bulls (40-32): They’re a fifth seed but could drop to seventh if they’re not careful. Only 2.5 games separate the Bulls from that spot. They haven’t had center Joakim Noah since March 21 because of a foot injury (CSN, 7).

Wednesday at Raptors (27-46): Beat them for the second time in a row over the weekend. Toronto’s inability to close out shooters when playing in a zone led to a blowout. And Rudy Gay is just 5-for-21 in his last two games with Washington (CSN, 7). 

Saturday vs. Indiana Pacers (47-27): They’re the No. 3 seed, just a few percentage points from the second spot. But would they rather play the current No. 6 seed, the Atlanta Hawks, or the fight to move up and get stuck with the No. 7 Boston Celtics? (CSN+, 7).

Sunday at Celtics (38-35): PF Kevin Garnett has been out since March 22 with problems with his foot and calf muscle. Coach Doc Rivers has been known to rest starters, even at the expense of a playoff seeding, to get his team healthy. This is the one game where if Boston can afford to call off the dogs, they will (CSN, 6). 

The Wizards have to emerge from this stretch with a winning record. In the week that follows, they're at the New York Knicks, vs. the Heat, vs. the 76ers, at the Brooklyn Nets and at the Bulls.