While wins haven't been easy to come by for the Washington Wizards, they've held their own against some of the NBA's best teams.
Looking to continue that trend, Washington hopes to have rookie Bradley Beal available as it goes for an eighth win in its last nine home games Friday night against the Brooklyn Nets, who needed two overtimes to win in the nation's capital last month.
At 13-35, the Wizards own the league's second-worst record. Washington, though, has proven plenty formidable against stiff competition, with nine of its wins against teams currently over .500 and four victories over division leaders.
Having gotten the best of Miami and Oklahoma City earlier this season, the Wizards beat the Los Angeles Clippers 98-90 on Monday. Washington then snapped New York's five-game winning streak two nights later with a 106-96 victory.
The Wizards went a combined 18 for 32 (56.3 percent) from 3-point range in those back-to-back wins and are averaging 101.5 points - 10.2 more than their NBA-worst overall mark - during their 7-1 stretch at home. Washington scored a season-high 36 points in the fourth quarter against the Knicks.
"I'd like to play our best against everyone," coach Randy Wittman said. "Obviously, we're getting some quality wins. ... I want our guys to concentrate on maintaining - we're not gonna win them all - but maintaining the way we're playing on both ends of the floor."
John Wall had 21 points Wednesday and Trevor Ariza added a season-high 20 as six players scored in double figures for the Wizards, who've held opponents under 100 points in a season-high seven straight games and 15 of their last 17.
They're 8-7 overall since Wall's season debut.
"Most teams in our situation - we get up for those big games," said Wall, who added nine assists versus New York. "You know it's going to be a packed crowd. You don't want to get blown out and start hearing the boo chants. We're competing against every team we play against, no matter who it is."
The Wizards also came out strong against the Nets (29-20) on Jan. 4 but fell 115-113 on Joe Johnson's jumper with 0.7 seconds left in double overtime. Beal scored 24 points in that game but Wall and Ariza both sat out due to injury.
Averaging 13.2 points to rank third among first-year players, Beal is hoping to return Friday after missing five games due to a sprained right wrist.
Brooklyn has a chance to sweep its two-game road trip after pulling out a 93-90 win Wednesday at Detroit on what was a memorable night for Deron Williams. He dished out nine assists to become the third-fastest active player to surpass 5,000, doing so in 554 games.
"It's not just in the open floor," interim coach P.J. Carlesimo told the team's official website. "It's not just running the half-court offense. A lot of his assists come from double teams, from post-up positions - it makes him different than some other point guards.
"You see a lot more different passes from Deron because his skill set and the way he is used in the game."
Williams had 24 points and 10 assists against the Wizards last month. His career average of 10.1 assists versus Washington is his highest mark against any Eastern Conference team.
Nets reserve Andray Blatche was booed while posting 13 points and 12 rebounds in Washington in his first visit since an ugly split with his only previous NBA team last summer. The Wizards used the amnesty clause on him after he was benched last season for poor conditioning.
"There's a lot of people that would not have been able to handle the situation, the first time back," said Carlesimo, who is 15-6 since taking over. "He didn't handle it. He thrived in it."
The Associated Press News Service
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