The light hasn't just come on for the Wizards. They've gradually played better and are they're starting to see their way out of being under .500 all season, and that could happen before the calendar year ends.
They erased a 13-point deficit to beat the Chicago Bulls on their home floor Wednesday and sit at 13-15 with a chance to have a winning record on this three-game road trip.
They play at the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday, a team they beat 110-105 earlier this month.
So why the about-face after they struggled mightily to defend the three-point line, rebound and finish of games that were close late?
They've won six of their last eight games: "We got stops. We got to the free-throw line. We were being aggressive," said John Wall, who led the Wizards with 23 points, nine assists, six rebounds and three steals.
"Our second unit did a great job of giving us a six-point lead. Me and Brad (Beal) came back and we just closed it out from there."
-- Beal hasn't just been an All-Star caliber player on the offensive end. He has played All-Star level defense, too. Dwyane Wade was held to four points in the second half as Beal bodied up the veteran in the mid-post and forced him beyond his shooting range. Wade shot 2-for-9 in the second half. Beal's defense during this streak has been exceptional, but it also preceeded it. Wall, who wasn't nearly as good to begin the season, has caught up now that he's in better shape since his knee surgeries May 5.
-- Marcin Gortat is 44 of 70 from the field for 62.8%. Those aren't empty stats. He's not only taking what defenses are giving him -- and a lot of them during this stretch are giving up the roll man to take away the three-point shot from Beal or Wall's dribble penetration. The pocket passes are there and Gortat is finishing them to make them pay.He attempted just four, eight and five shots in the first three games of this stretch and has since gotten 11, 10, eight, 15 and nine on the back end.
-- Coach Scott Brooks has found a bench rotation that works. He had to go deeper than expected vs. Chicago when Otto Porter left after halftime with back spasms and resort to Sheldon McClellan. Even if Kelly Oubre isn't scoring, his defense is valuable and he has learned how to stay on the court. Trey Burke is playing to his true self which is to look for his shot and score, similar to Ramon Sessions when he was here. It's what he does best. Burke isn't a pure point guard but when he has a mismatch he's not settling for fallaway contested jumpers. He's attacking off the dribble, breaking down defenses and getting to the rim. Jason Smith isn't hesitating to shoot the mid-range jumper from the elbow. Defenses are giving him that shot and he's staying in his lane and just taking it.
--Beal and Wall are doing two things well together: Getting to the foul line and creating for others.Wall has attempted 7.8 free throws during this stretch and averaging 9.3 assists. Beal is attempting the exact number of foul shots as Wall, 7.8 per game (63 total) and 4.5 assists. That's helping them get easy points, distribute the wealth and put opponents in foul trouble.