September 30, 2020

Washington Wizards Game 12 Review: Pierce leads Wiz over Bucks

PIERCE DROPS 25 TO PACE WIZ

The Washington Wizards stormed back from a 15-point first half deficit to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks, 111-100, Saturday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee. The win was the Wizards’ second in a row following their home victory over Cleveland. The loss was the Bucks’ second consecutive after a three-game winning streak.

Paul Pierce led the Wizards with 25 points. John Wall scored 19 points and added nine assists, while Bradley Beal scored 17 points off the bench. Brandon Knight led the Bucks with 27 points, while Giannis Anteokounmpo contributed with 20 points.

After opening the game tied at four, the Bucks seized the lead, topped off at 42-27 with 5:51 left in the second quarter on a Jerryd Bayless dunk after a Jared Dudley steal. The Wizards rallied to tie the game at 54 with 6:06 left in the third quarter on a Pierce three-pointer.

The Wizards held a 4-point lead going into the fourth quarter at 74-70. The Wizards proceeded to break the game open, with their largest lead being 16 at 97-81 with 6:06 left in the game when Kris Humphries tipped in Beal’s miss.

Ersan Ilyasova brought the Bucks as close as 104-97 with 2:13 left in the game, but Khris Middleton missed a layup that would have cut the deficit to 5. Pierce hit a jumper to stretch the lead back out to 9, then Wall finished off the Bucks with a steal and a dunk.

Washington Wizards Game 11 Review: Wiz dump Cavs on Wall’s big night

WIZARDS SEND CLEVELAND TO LOSING RECORD AFTER 11 GAMES

John Wall scored 28 points, pulled down six rebounds, had seven assists and four steals to lead the Washington Wizards to a 91-78 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers Friday night at the Verizon Center in Washington. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving led the Cavs with 22 points apiece. The Wizards are now 8-3 overall, 5-1 at home this season. The Cavs went below .500 with their third straight loss.

“He’s [Wall] our leader, man. He’s asked to carry a big load for this ball club. He’s an All-Star. He’s going to do the scoring, he’s going to do the assists, he’s going to be a defender. That is why you are going to see a lot of his jerseys in the stands,” said Wizards forward Paul Pierce.

Washington head coach Randy Wittman was forced to call a timeout with 6:36 left in the first quarter after back-to-back turnovers by Wall and Marcin Gortat led to fast break points by Anderson Varejao and LeBron James, giving the Cavs a 13-8 lead.

Immediately following the timeout, Bradley Beal came into the game for Garrett Temple, as he eases his way back into the starting lineup. Beal instantly triggered fast breaks with back-to-back steals from James and Kyrie Irving, which led to a Wall layup followed by a Wall three-point play to tie the game at 13.

Cleveland head coach David Blatt said about the causes of Cavs’ turnover problems, “Irresponsible play with the ball and bad decisions. I can think of, off the top of my head, five or six clear breaks where we didn’t finish with a shot and that is just not high-level basketball.”

James’s finger roll gave the Cavs their last lead at 21-17 with 2:40 remaining in the first quarter. The Wizards overtook the Cavs for good with a 9-0 run to close the quarter, keyed by Beal’s three-pointer bracketed by a Wall layup and 21-footer. The quarter was punctuated by Tristan Thompson’s goaltending rejection of Otto Porter’s putback with 1.8 seconds left.

The Wizards continued to build their lead into the second quarter. The Cavs called timeout on their possession after Beal’s finger roll gave the Wizards a nine-point lead at 36-27 with 7:40 left before halftime. Paul Pierce’s three-pointer extended the Wizards’ lead to 13 at 48-35. Joe Harris tried to answer with a floating runner in the lane, but was called for a charging foul. The Wizards would carry their 13-point lead into halftime at 55-42.

The Wizards’ biggest lead of the game came when consecutive 20-footers by Wall forced a Cavs timeout with 3:44 left in the third quarter, trailing by 16 at 72-56. The Cavs never mounted a serious comeback bid, not making a basket in the final 9 minutes of the game. The exclamation point came with Beal’s three-pointer with 1:25 left in the game restored a 12-point lead.

“First thing is that guys have to take a good look in the mirror and ask themselves where and how they can impact positively and try to simplify things. You have to look and see if you can make a change or two but not recreate the wheel. You have to stay in there and show grit and get a good day to gain a yard at a time,” said Blatt.

“You know, all year, it’s a long year, every time you have big emotional wins, and you come into the next game, those are the games that are trap games, and that is what I tried to tell the guys. You know those are the games that great teams win, and it feels good and hopefully we can put this win behind us and move on because we have another test on a Milwaukee team that have been playing great,” said Pierce.

Washington Wizards Game 9 Review: Wiz top Magic with help from bench

The Washington Wizards jumped out to a quick lead behind John Wall’s 10 early points, then rode a strong bench effort from Kris Humphries — with 16 points and 6 rebounds — and pulled away to beat the Orlando Magic 98-93 Saturday at the Verizon Center.

Washington head coach Randy Wittman said, “He [Humphries] goes in there and just bangs, plays hard. He isn’t afraid to give up his body. That was another thing tonight that was great. I think we had four charges taken where we stepped in and gave up our bodies and that’s an extra possession that we pick up. Kris gives us that and his ability to hit the free throw line jumper is key.”

“They’re just playing well. They move the ball well. John Wall is just very good at getting to the paint and making extra plays. He does passes for the other guys and they just played very well,” said Orlando center Nicola Vucevic.

Orlando head coach Jacque Vaughn called a timeout 21 seconds into the second half after Nene scored on a breakaway dunk off the Magic’s first possession which matched the Wizards’ biggest lead at 12.

Coming out of the timeout, the Magic went on an 8-0 run, capped by Evan Fournier’s three-pointer, to cut the lead to four and force a Wizards timeout. The Magic were later able to come within two on Victor Oladipo’s runner. Nene answered with a putback and was fouled, but missed the free throw for the three-point play. The Magic got as close as they got with another Fournier three-pointer that closed the lead to one.

The Wizards bench, behind Humphries, Rasual Butler and Otto Porter, stretched the lead back to 11 into the fourth quarter.

“I think he’s [Butler] been really solid tonight defensively. He’s big, works well defensively and does just about everything well. He’s a veteran player, he’s been around and makes the right play and isn’t afraid to take a big shot,” said Wittman.

In the dying stages of the game, a Butler three-pointer would have restored the Wizards’ biggest lead back to 12, but upon further review at NBA review headquarters in Secaucus, it was ruled that Butler’s shot was not released before the 24-second shot clock expired. With the lead down to nine, the Magic went on a mini-run to close to the final margin.

Washington Wizards Game 7 Review: Wizards defeat Pacers for second time in four days

The Washington Wizards defeated the Indiana Pacers, 97-90, on Saturday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Wizards beat the Pacers for the second time in four days after winning in overtime in Washington on Wednesday night.

Behind Nene’s 15 first quarter points, the Wizards jumped out to a 32-14 lead at the intermission. The Pacers never led in this game. The biggest lead the Wizards had was 56-35 coming right after halftime on Nene’s last basket of the game.

Behind Solomon Hill’s 28 points. the Pacers chipped away at the lead in the third quarter. They closed to within 3 at 81-78 with 8:17 left in the fourth quarter. The Pacers ended the game missing 8 out of their last 10 shots, allowing the Wizards to pull away again.

John Wall led the Wizards with 18 points. Nene filled the stat sheet with 17 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, one steal and one block. Kevin Seraphin scored 13 points off the bench in relief of Marcin Gortat, who had gotten into early foul trouble.

OPINION: History shows future is cloudy for Redskins’ Griffin

The last three times the Redskins made the playoffs, it was on the back of a second-half surge in 2005, 2007 and 2012. The Redskins entered their bye week at 3-6 much like they did in 2012, but this year, the defense is forcing fewer turnovers. The only game the Redskins were actually out of in the first nine games of 2012 was against Pittsburgh. They had given up a victory with a blown coverage late against the Giants.

Robert Griffin III was fully healthy and playing well back then, after a sensational debut in the first game of the season against New Orleans. With RG3’s health an unknown variable in 2014, the Redskins would be best served trying to find out what kind of quarterback he will be coming off his dislocated ankle. The good news is that this time, no one has made Redskins head coach Jay Gruden backtrack on his comments that he’ll use RG3’s running skills.

Tony Dungy commented that RG3 is no longer the stunning athlete he used to be. He doesn’t have to be. At RG3’s peak, the only quarterback faster than him was Michael Vick, even though many have pointed out that RG3’s speed is more straight-line and not as elusive as Vick’s, even though it doesn’t keep either of them from getting injured. At his best, Mark Brunell ran around a 4.6 40. That’s all you need as an NFL quarterback to make defenses account for you as a running threat, assuming that he was equally good at passing.

It would be best to compare RG3 to other quarterbacks that have suffered knee injuries. Among them, Carson Palmer and Tom Brady are not applicable to RG3’s case because they are primarily pocket passers. Daunte Culpepper was a mobile quarterback, but his case is not applicable because the severity of his knee injury was much greater and catastrophic to the point that it ended his NFL career.

The two closest cases are Randall Cunningham and Brunell. Cunningham suffered a torn ACL and MCL in Week 1 of the 1991 season. Cunningham lost his job to Rodney Peete when the Eagles made a coaching change after the 1994 season. Cunningham didn’t fit Ray Rhodes’s desire for a West Coast-style QB. He was out of football for a year before he resurfaced with Minnesota and led the Vikings offense on a magical run that unfortunately ended in the 1998 NFC Championship Game.

Cunningham never changed his style even after his injury, mostly due to coaching on the part of Rich Kotite, who continued Buddy Ryan’s strategy of having Cunningham make a few plays on offense and then let the vaunted Eagles defense handle the rest. “I remember Buddy used to say to Randall, ‘All I need is for you to make four or five plays a game to make the difference,’ one former teammate told Sports Illustrated’s Peter King. “And Randall used to go out and make these unbelievable plays, plays nobody else could make. Buddy was relying on Randall’s athletic ability and not his ability to read or learn defenses, and that turned out to be Randall’s undoing.” Kotite described Cunningham, “If he wasn`t pressured he didn`t run. If he was, he improvised as he does so well.”

This continued even after Cunningham broke his left fibula in Week 5 of the 1993 season. Cunningham had led the Eagles to a 4-0 record and was named NFC Offensive Player of the Month before that untimely injury.

Cunningham never wanted to change. If you go over some of his quotes from 1992: “I`ll be back scramblin’.” “Those who doubt me don`t believe in me. There`s no doubt in my mind I`ll make it back all the way.” “My instincts are still with me. If I lost my instincts, I probably would have retired. I`m not going to try to be somebody I`m not. I`m going to be Randall Cunningham as long as I can perform at that level.” “I`m not going to sit in the pocket like Joe Montana and complete 70 percent of my passes. I`m not going to scramble like Fran Tarkenton and launch bombs. I`m just going to play football the way I want to and the way the coach wants me to.”

Even if someone pointed out that he was becoming more conventional prior to the 1991 injury, Cunningham said, “I did scramble less, because I was dropping back and completing 70 percent of my passes. But I haven`t changed. I still enjoy that style. If something opens up and I have to dip through and get a few yards, it`s OK by me.”

Brunell is a closer comparison. Brunell, like RG3, was still a running quarterback after his first ACL tear in the spring game after his sophomore season at Washington in which he was named Rose Bowl MVP. When Brunell led the NFL in passing yardage in 1996 with 4,367 yards and ran for 396 yards, he still threw 20 interceptions to go along with 19 touchdowns.

Brunell didn’t become a pocket passer until after he led the Jaguars to the 1996 AFC Championship Game and was rewarded with a big contract. That moment came after he missed the preseason and the first two games of the season after suffering a partially torn ACL, MCL, and PCL in the first game of the 1997 preseason.

Brunell, like RG3, displayed a willingness to adapt to being a pocket passer. “It’s very easy, and this will almost sound too basic, but it’s reps,” Brunell told ESPN’s John Keim. “It’s going through OTAs and minicamps and training camp with the mindset of, ‘I’m dropping back and absolutely have to find a receiver.’ There are four or five receivers in each pass route and your job is to find the open guy.”

After the Jaguars had clinched a playoff berth against Buffalo in Week 16 of the 1997 season, then-Jaguars head coach Tom Coughlin said, ”He had a great decision-making game. His spontaneity was better, and he made plays on the run. He also took some pretty good hits and still delivered the ball very well. It’s a shame he had the interception, but he still had a solid game.” Jaguars center Dave Widell said, ”He’s improving with every game and gaining the poise he needs to be successful. That includes not throwing the ball away. He’s leading the offense as he should be.”

“I had to sit in the pocket and throw,” after the injury, Brunell told Keim. “I moved a little bit and not nearly as effectively as before. Going into the ‘98 season, I felt better as a pocket passer. It probably took me a year. I never got to the same speed, but it put me in position where I was forced to develop as a passer. In a way it was one of the best things for me.”

Gary Clark said before the season began that this could be the best offense the Redskins have had since 1991. On paper, it compares favorably with the 1999 offense with quarterback Brad Johnson, running back Stephen Davis, receivers Michael Westbrook and Albert Connell along with tight end Stephen Alexander. One place where they don’t compare well is the offensive line, where Trent Williams is by far the best player, as well he should since he was the fourth pick of the 2010 draft. The Redskins have used precious few draft picks on the line dating back to the Mike Shanahan era.

Tight end Jordan Reed is healthy again, while DeSean Jackson leads the NFL in yards per catch. Pierre Garcon is only one year removed from breaking Art Monk’s single season receiving record, and Andre Roberts was brought in from Arizona to be the No. 2 receiver before the signing of Jackson. The running game with Alfred Morris has been coming around since halftime against Dallas.

With the vast array of offensive weapons in the Redskins arsenal, the playcalling has been very conservative thus far. Through Week 8 against the Cowboys, “All three quarterbacks combined have thrown 45.5% of their passes within the 0-9 yard window, with just 12.5 attempts traveling 20 yards or more through the air. The receivers are expected to turn short passes into large gains through their feet, as Pierre Garcon did for his 70 yard touchdown in Week 8,” according to Trey Cunningham at Pro Football Focus.

Washington Wizards Game 5 Review: Wall helps Wiz defeat Pacers in Overtime

John Wall went on a 6-0 run in overtime to give the Washington Wizards the lead for good as they beat the Indiana Pacers, 96-94, Wednesday night at the Verizon Center in Washington. Roy Hibbert’s two free throws had given the Pacers their first lead since the first quarter with 3:24 left in overtime at 88-87. Hibbert missed a three-pointer to win the game, while Chris Copeland missed a follow-up jumper from seven feet out that would have forced a second overtime.

The Wizards took a five-point lead into halftime at 46-41 after ending the first quarter tied at 24. Wall gave the Wizards their largest lead at 61-49 with 4:37 left in the third quarter. The Pacers chipped away at the lead until Chris Copeland’s three-pointer tied the game up at 77 with 4:07 left in regulation.

The Wizards were able to extend out to a four-point lead after Copeland’s basket, but Donald Sloan tied the game at 84 with 6 seconds left. Paul Pierce missed a three-pointer at the end of regulation.

Sloan led the Pacers with a career-high 31 points. Copeland added 19 points off the bench.

Wall led the Wizards with a double-double, scoring 31 points along with 10 assists. The Wizards had four starters score in double figures, with Marcin Gortat, Garrett Temple and Paul Pierce also contributing. The Wizards made 21 of 23 free throws.

Washington Wizards Game 3 Review: Porter drops 21 in Wiz home opening win

The Washington Wizards defeated the Milwaukee Bucks, 108-97, Saturday night at the Verizon Center in Washington in the Wizards’ home opener.

Otto Porter scored 19 of his career-high 21 points in the second half as the Wizards (2-1) pulled away for good after the Bucks closed a 14-point first half deficit to within four.

“He played solid,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said postgame. “He had an opportunity tonight and I didn’t take him out in the second half.  He played 24 [minutes] and Garrett [Temple] played 24.  I just thought those two together were playing so well.”

Porter got his chance to start the second half because Paul Pierce was ejected right before halftime after committing his second technical foul.

Behind the dominant frontcourt duo of Marcin Gortat and Nene, the Wizards were staked to a 41-27 lead. The Bucks then went on a 17-8 run to enter halftime with a five-point deficit. The Bucks were aided by the ensuing free throws from Pierce’s foul and his two technicals.

Pierce was ejected on back-to-back technicals disputing  a clear path foul with seven seconds left in the first half. Pierce initially refused to leave the court until both a game official and Wizards head coach Randy Wittman motioned to have Pierce escorted from the premises.

“He [Pierce] took one for the team,” Porter said. “At the same time, I knew it was an opportunity to step up. Somebody has to step up so I just went out there and played.”

Nene led the Wizards with 22 points, while Gortat added 20. The Wizards also got balanced contributions from their backcourt, with John Wall chipping in 19 points. Garrett Temple scored a career-high 18 points starting in the place of the injured Bradley Beal.

Gortat revealed the secret of his success. “Brazilian guy [Nene] was working for me, that’s what was working for me. I just continued to play. I continued to play to my strengths. I think with struggling in the preseason and you know I came back to my routine from last year. I kind of start coming back to playing my basketball.”

The Bucks never led and committed 28 turnovers. Brandon Knight led the Bucks with 24 points, while Jerryd Bayless added 20 points off the bench.

  • The Wizards have now won three consecutive games against the Bucks dating back to last season (114-107 on 3/8 at MIL, 104-91 on 4/12 at WAS).  Washington won the 2013-14 season series 3-1.
  • Washington shot .548 (40-of-73) from the field tonight.  Entering tonight, the Wizards were shooting .484 (75-155) from the field this season.  Washington has scored 105-or-more points in its last two games.
  • Washington recorded as season-high 18 steals tonight.  Milwaukee committed 28 turnovers tonight, leading to 25 points for Washington.  This marks a season-high for opponent turnovers this season.
  • John Wall finished with 19 points, 10 assists, six rebounds, and five steals tonight.  This marks Wall’s third straight game with a double-double, a feat he has now accomplished five times in his career.  This also marks the fourth career-game Wall has tallied at least 19 points, 10 assists, six rebounds, and five steals.
  • Milwaukee rookie Jabari Parker tallied career-highs with 13 points and 11 rebounds tonight.  This marks Parker’s second double-double in his first three games in the NBA.

Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden discusses expectations against Seahawks

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden discussed the idea that playing the defending Super Bowl champions Seattle Seahawks is a benchmark game: “I think we try to measure ourselves on an individual basis and a team basis.

I don’t like to measure ourselves against any other team. Obviously they’re the Super Bowl champs and you’d like to try to compete with the best and see where you stand, but I think every day we try to measure our guys and see how they’re doing, how they’re performing, if they’re getting better on a daily basis.

So we’re not really trying to measure ourselves against any other team, we’re trying to measure ourselves as how we’re getting better, how we’re preparing and what we do. Just moving forward, as long as I feel like we’re getting better, making strides for the better, playing hard with some passion, I’ll be all right no matter what the outcome is.

Obviously we took a little step back in that department against the Giants, so I’m looking for big-time improvement in that regard.”

Gruden talked about the need to improve from last week’s debacle against the New York Giants: “We just want to make sure we continue to get better. That’s it.

We laid an egg against the Giants, there’s no question about it. But offense, defense, everybody laid an egg, coaches included, in front of our home crowd.

That’s what the most disappointing thing is – you talk about the importance of playing in front of our home crowd and we’ve got to turn that around. We’ve got to take advantage of our home games. It’s a great advantage for us and we want to make sure we don’t ever let that happen again.

So we’re hoping that these guys come out, take it personally and come out and play with a lot of pride and passion and improve on their performance. That’s all we can ask.”

Washinton Redskins coach Jay Gruden discusses special teams

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden was asked about his pleasure that his team understood the importance of special teams: “I am. I think they’re doing a good job. We’ve given up a couple big plays unfortunately, and it’s more player-related more so than scheme-related, I think.

We’re in the right spots. We just have got to make sure we fit-up and make the tackles, make sure we work our technique in punt protection and all that.

But I feel like improvement has been made and I feel like with Adam Hayward as the captain of the group, he holds everybody accountable, as does Coach [Ben] Kotwica, and they are buying in.

They are running to the ball, they are doing a good job learning what they’re supposed to do and doing it.

We just have got to continue to put it on the field every Sunday, and eventually we’re going to have to make a big play on special teams. We’re going to have to block a punt, we’re going to have to return a kick for a touchdown – something – recover a fumble. Something that changes the momentum of the football game is really what I’m looking for on special teams.”

Gruden talked about the willingness of reserve players to contribute to the special teams unit: “I think the majority of them are and the ones that aren’t were probably looking to move. If you’re a reserve, you better make sure you make your mark with Coach Kotwica, otherwise we’ve got to find another reserve because if you’re not playing, you need to be busting your tail on special teams. That’s what your job is.

All three phases are equally as important and guys understand that. Some guys are just naturally better at it than others. There’s nothing you can do about that. Some guys aren’t asked as a reserve to do a lot of special teams, but for the most part, I think everybody understands the importance and are playing fairly hard on it.”

Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden discusses quarterback situation

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden discussed how much effort he put into scouting quarterbacks Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins and Russell Wilson when he was the offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals: “I looked at it a little bit, but obviously we had a quarterback in Andy [Dalton]. We weren’t looking at the quarterback market the second and third year.

But all three of them are very talented. You know, Russell has been given a great situation with a great team around him also and took advantage of his reps.

And Kirk and Robert, Robert’s obviously had some issues with his injuries and so much, and Kirk’s been stuck behind him.

But, they’re all three good quarterbacks, they’re all three young quarterbacks, and I think all three of their futures are very bright in the NFL. One has done a little bit more, accomplished more obviously to this point, but that doesn’t mean the other two won’t accomplish great things in their career moving forward.

So, all three of them have a lot to be proud of for what they’ve accomplished so far, but I know that Kirk and Robert both have their sights set higher for what they want to accomplish later on.”

Gruden talked about Wilson’s reputation as a game manager: “Just because he manages the game doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the talent to do whatever – he could throw the ball deep. He can hurt you in a lot of ways.

If they need to score 35 or 40, then he can open it up and they can throw it 50 times. He just hasn’t had to do that because their defense has played so well.

When I say ‘great game manager,’ it means I think he’s not turning the ball over and he’s making great decisions. If it’s time to punt, it’s time to punt. He’ll let his defense get the ball back for him. He does a great job in that regard.

If they ever get in a situation where they’re down, he has the ability to throw the ball in bunches and do a good job.

So I think as a total package quarterback, his numbers may not speak for it, but I think his production does. When it’s all said and done, it’s about production in this league with wins and losses, not so much about stats.

You know, preparing for him, there’s a lot of pass concepts that they have. They have a great running game, obviously, so you’re preparing for him like you prepare for any other quarterback in the NFL, but you have to also add in the fact that he’s unbelievable as far as getting out of the pocket, avoiding the rush and buying time. He’s like Houdini back there avoiding the rushes and the sacks and keeping plays alive.

So that’s the biggest concern is trying to keep him in the pocket as opposed to letting him get out and make big plays with his legs.”

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