The Washington Wizards hadn't played a game in nearly two weeks, but that streak has thankfully come to an end. After having six straight games postponed due to a lack of players as a result of the league's health and safety protocols amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Wizards finally took the floor again against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday night. There was some considerable rust, and Washington fell in a 121-101 blowout. Bradley Beal extended his 30-point scoring streak to four consecutive games, while Russell Westbrook struggled in the Wizards' return, finishing with just nine points while shooting 27.3 percent from the field.
Washington last played on Jan. 11 -- a 128-107 victory over the Phoenix Suns. Prior to the game against the Spurs, they were sidelined for two weeks, while games against the Utah Jazz, Detroit Pistons, Cleveland Cavaliers (twice), Charlotte Hornets and Milwaukee Bucks got postponed as six Wizards players tested positive for the coronavirus and three other players were sidelined after contact tracing determined they might have been exposed to the virus.
Due to the massive gap in games, the Wizards have played significantly fewer games than other teams in the conference. The top-seeded 76ers (12-5), for instance, have played 17 games thus far, compared to Washington's 12.
Recent roster additions were the reason the Wizards were able to return to action. On Saturday, the franchise signed free agent centers Alex Len and Jordan Bell. These additions push Washington over the threshold of eight available players needed to play in an NBA game. Despite those additions, though, Washington is still extremely shorthanded with Deni Avdija, Davis Bertans, Troy Brown Jr., Rui Hachimura, Ish Smith and Moe Wagner all still out due to health protocols, and Thomas Bryant out for the season.
Prior to the game against San Antonio, Wizards coach Scott Brooks spoke with excitement to get his team back out on the floor.
"I know one thing -- we're going to give great effort," Brooks said of his team. "We haven't played in two weeks. That's a long time. That's a very long time. But there are no excuses. We're excited to play. We're going to go out there and give great effort, give ourselves a chance to compete and I think it's going to come down to -- there's going to be some rust. There are going to be some spots during the game where we might be a little tired. I might have to call a few quicker timeouts … I hope we can just start playing where we left off. We were playing decent basketball."
All of Washington's postponed games will ultimately be made up before the regular season comes to a close, though the exact dates haven't yet been established. In the meantime, the Wizards have to hope they are able to get healthy because it will be very hard for them to gain ground in a competitive Eastern Conference without a full squad.