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Amazing, But Wizards Top .500 For First Time Since 2009

iFor more than four years, the Washington Wizards waded — or drowned — below a .500 winning percentage. This means they did not win their season-opener the last four years and did not win more games than they lost in the previous 355 games. That’s spectacularly bad.

So, it was with good reason that many Wizard players and staff smiled broadly after their 100-90 victory over Portland in D.C.; they improved to 24-23, taking them to the winning side of the ledger for the first time since 2009.

“It’s great to finally get this team over the hump,” guard Bradly Beal said.

“It’s only one game over, but, yeah, it’s a big relief,” said All-Star guard John Wall, the 2010 No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft who never played on a winning NBA team. “But the main thing is we’ve got bigger goals to try to keep winning games and try to keep getting better and try not to go back down — so we won’t have to have this talk again.”

Wall scored 22 points and veteran Trevor Ariza added 20 for the Wizards, who hadn’t had a winning record since beating the New Jersey Nets to improve to 2-1 on Halloween 2009.

No one on the current Wizards roster was on the team when it was last above .500. They lost this season at 0-0, 9-9, 14-14, 19-19, 20-20, 21-21 and 22-22, and the hurdle became such a distration that players starting declaring the subject taboo when reporters asked about it. Coach Randy Wittman at one point cautioned against thoughts that “all of a sudden fairy dust is going to fall on us if we get over .500.”

Said Wittman after the win: “It ain’t out of the way. How many more games have we got to play? You act like that was the last daggum game. … If we’re going to learn to be a good basketball team, we have to do this every night, no matter who you’re playing.”

The Wizards are 120-236 since that Oct. 31 victory 51 months ago, a .336 winning percentage better than only Minnesota and Sacramento over that span.

“It’s great that we’re 24-23 now, but I don’t want them to focus on a number,” Wittman said. “I want them to focus on the act of why you’re 24-23. That’s where you keep it going. I want this team to get on a run. They haven’t ever been on a run.”

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