Wizards return home -- but not for long

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Sports,NBA,Wizards,Craig Stouffer

Washington is back at Verizon for one game before returning to road

The return home is so brief it might as well be part of the latest road trip.

The Wizards (25-44) will be back at Verizon Center on Monday to face the Memphis Grizzlies (47-22) following a four-game swing out West that had moments of exhilaration and exasperation. Exhaustion will be the operative word when Washington heads straight back out on the road for the strangest of trips that takes the team first to Oklahoma City on Wednesday and then to Orlando on Friday.

Wizards center Emeka Okafor said he did a double take when he first looked at the schedule.

Up next
Grizzlies at Wizards
When » Monday, 7 p.m.
Where » Verizon Center
TV » CSN

"It is awkward," Okafor said last week before the four-game trip. "It's only going to pose a problem if you let it."

While the Wizards finished the trip 2-2, the journey posed all sorts of challenges. Okafor missed the middle two games with the flu, which also struck Trevor Ariza on Saturday, one night after he had hit a career-high seven 3-pointers in a 103-100 comeback victory over his former team, the Los Angeles Lakers.

Bradley Beal aggravated his sprained left ankle against Phoenix on Wednesday, and there were no answers on the road for A.J. Price, who has missed seven straight games with a strained groin.

John Wall, coming off being named Eastern Conference player of the week, started all four games but also had his share of ups and downs. His 25 points and five assists against Charlotte on March 18 were negated by six turnovers in a surprising 119-114 loss to the worst team in the league.

Wall had 24 points, 16 assists, six rebounds and three steals against the Lakers, assisting or scoring on 26 of the Wizards' 31 points in the fourth quarter en route to his first career victory at Staples Center. But in Saturday night's 101-92 loss at Golden State, he was ejected after receiving his second technical foul of the game in the third quarter.

Having jawed with officials enough over a missed call to prompt a technical in the first quarter, Wall ended his night prematurely when he and Warriors guard Klay Thompson got a double technical in the third quarter.

It was Wall's sixth tech in 36 games this season. He had seven in each of his first two seasons in the league, in which he played 69 games and 66 games, respectively.

Leaving the Golden State game with 14 points and three assists lowered Wall's strong March averages to 19.8 points and 8.0 assists. He's also shooting 51.6 percent from the field this month, which has helped him improve to 44.8 percent overall, a career best.

"It was a great road trip. I feel like we could've gone 4-0 really," Wall told reporters Saturday. "We let the game slip away in Charlotte, and then tonight I let the team down getting ejected."

After facing Memphis, the Wizards will play just five more home games over the season's final three and a half weeks.

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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