The Washington Wizards returned to an even split Monday in a 107-99 victory over the visiting Philadelphia 76ers. Bradley Beal led Washington back to .500 ball with a career high 9 rebounds on his way to a 22 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists line.
Beal's 8 assists matched a previous career-high set against the Sixers earlier this season in November. In games in which Beal has 4 or more assists the Wizards are now 10-2; good things happen when Beal handles the ball.
4 of Beal's 8 assists were dished in the first quarter, including this tasty alleyoop to Marcin Gortat. Beal's early looks helped Washington to a 29-23 lead after one. The Wizards kept that lead, and began the fourth quarter with a convincing 10-2 run, weighted by the fact 8 of those 10 points came from the duo of Kevin Seraphin and Jan Vesely. The Sixers battled back from as many as 22-down, but the margin was too great to overcome.
The 20-20 Wizards have been looking for Seraphin and Vesely to contribute all season, and their fourth quarter performance against the Sixers gave new life to what has been a contract year for both forward-centers. The development of Beal, on the other hand, has been steady, and his near triple-double can only help the seemingly instant chemistry he has with backcourt teammate John Wall, who refers to Beal as his "little brother."
The Wizards delivered perhaps their most impressive win of the season Wednesday in a 114-97 home victory over the 2013 Champion Miami Heat, followed by a 96-93 Friday night triumph over the visiting Chicago Bulls. Their 104-98 Saturday night loss to the Detroit Pistons represented Washington's third opportunity of 2013-14 to achieve an above .500 record. The Wizards will have their next chance Wednesday versus former Wizards guard Jordan Crawford (Edit: actually, he's with the Golden State Warriors now) and the Boston Celtics (7:00 p.m. ET).
Washington hasn't enjoyed above .500 play since the John Wall era. The 2009-10 Wizards, led by Head Coach Flip Saunders, began their season above .500 with a first game win and a third game win, ultimately plummeting to a 26-56 final record. The good news? The 20-20 Wizards are currently 5th in the Eastern Conference; even if Washington never gets above .500 they're likely to remain in the Playoffs hunt (especially if Beal can keep up his production).
LAST DAY TO VOTE FOR ALL-STAR GAME
Beal? Wall? Today is the last day to vote for the 2014 All-Star Game, to insure your favorite Wizards player will get a shot at wearing the horrible looking sleeved jerseys the All-Stars will get to wear while down in New Orleans.
GEORGE DOES 'VINCE'
If you're late to the party, make sure you check out Indiana Pacers' guard-forward Paul George, who did a crazy-impressive 360 dunk in what was otherwise a blowout victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. After the dunk, George suggested he may be up for the All-Star Dunk competition. The 32-7 Pacers are the leaders in the East, well ahead of anyone in the conference other than the 29-11 Miami Heat.