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Trevor Ariza says Washington is playing harder

The Washington Wizards have won four of their last six games, pulling off impressive wins against the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Philadelphia 76ers after a brutal start to the season. New addition Trevor Ariza noted the change in the team, despite losing All-Star point guard John Wall to season-ending heel surgery.

“We’re giving more effort. We’re playing harder,” Trevor Ariza said, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic. “We’re giving ourselves a chance more.”

Teammate Bradley Beal attributed the uptick to a change in mentality.

“Don’t be that guy that’s relaxing on defense,” he said. “Don’t be that guy that’s getting beat on the backside or anything like that. That’s kind of the motto and the mental approach we’ve been having,” he said. “It’s a good one to have. It keeps everybody in check and holds us accountable.”

The Wizards have lacked accountability for a long time, and they have surprisingly found it with the arrival of Ariza and, oddly enough, without Wall in the lineup. The same thing happened for a short stint last season.

Washington has flowed much better without Wall in the lineup and somehow rallied around the backcourt of Beal and 27-year-old reserve Tomas Satoransky. Hoping to still salvage this season, the Wizards are now only three games away from the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. The sixth, seventh, and eighth spots are still up for grabs, and if the Wiz can find a late-season surge they could clinch a playoff berth for a third consecutive season.