January 23, 2020

Washington Wizards Game 70 Recap: Wiz commit 24 turnovers in loss to Nuggets

As Washington Wizards head coach Randy Wittman said following Sunday’s 105-102 loss to the Denver Nuggets, the Wiz have given games away.

And, at some point before Washington’s 24th turnover, it became clear Sunday’s game was practically gift-wrapped for the 32-38 Nuggets.

Forward Kenneth Faried led Denver’s push with 20 points and eight rebounds and Randy Foye added another 17 points. To add salt to the wounds, former Wizard Jan Vesely tallied 10 points before leaving in the third quarter with a bruised rib cage.

On Washington’s side, Bradley Beal posted 21 points, but he could do little to offset John Wall’s eight turnovers.

After leading by as many as 14 points with 2:28 remaining in the first quarter, the Wizards began their skid.

Denver out-shot Washington 26-20 in the second quarter, which allowed the Nuggets to creep in front.

Beal and Marcin Gortat combined for 11 points in the first three minutes of the third quarter to regain a temporary lead, but the Nuggets were too quick to the bucket.

The Nuggets trailed by a point with 8:40 remaining in the game before embarking on a 9-1 run.

And, though the Wizards outscored the Nuggets in the fourth quarter, it was too little too late. To seal the deal, the Nuggets hit seven of eight free throws in the final minute of play.

With the loss, the Wizards rounded out their four-game road trip with a 1-3 record.

Washington Wizards to trade for Andre Miller

According to multiple sources, the Washington Wizards will acquire veteran point guard Andre Miller from the Denver Nuggets in a three-way deal with the Philadelphia Sixers. Forward Jan Vesely will go to Denver, while a Wizards second round pick, a Nuggets second rounder and guard Eric Maynor goes to Philly. It’s unclear at this posting what Philadelphia gives up in the deal.

Miller, 37, hasn’t played for the Nuggets since late December after an altercation with head coach Brian Shaw. Miller is averaging a career-low 5.9 points and 3.3 assists in 19 minutes per game over 30 appearances this season. He is on the books for $5 million this season and $4.6 million in 2014-15, the final year of his current contract.

The Wizards told the little-used Vesely, the former No. 6 overall pick in the 2011 draft, before the start of the season the team would not pick up his rookie option for 14-15, so his departure is not unexpected.

Maynor, 26, was signed by the Wizards to a two-year, $4.1 million contract last summer with the goal of making him John Wall’s back-up. The 2009 first-round pick had little impact this season, though, averaging 2.3 points and 1.7 assists in 9.3 minutes over 23 appearances for Washington.

Miller gives the Wizards a veteran backup point guard to John Wall as they attempt to secure a playoff spot.

Washington Wizards Game 32 Recap: Beal’s 21 points help Wizards top Charlotte

It’s official. As the season stands now, the 15-and-17 Washington Wizards have earned more wins on the road than at the Verizon Center.

The latest road victory – a 97-83 win over the Charlotte Bobcats (15-21) Tuesday night – featured a stellar performance from Bradley Beal and a 17-0 third-quarter run that helped the Wizards edge the Bobcats once and for all.

In addition to Beal’s 21 points, Marcin Gortat and John Wall added 18 and 17 respectively, while Trevor Booker and Martell Webster rounded out the double-digit points club for the night. [Read more…]

Wizards beat Magic 120-91 Postgame Audio: Wittman, Wall, Vesely, Price, Beal

WASHINGTON–The Washington Wizards put on a show, blowing out the Orlando Magic 120-91.  The Wizards had season high in points and put up a season-high 37 in the third quarter alone.  Wizards Head Coach Randy Wittman was very pleased with their third win in a row.

“As I told them, that was a beautiful thing tonight.”

The Wizards had six in double-figures, including forward Jan Vesely with 10 points, seven rebounds, four assists and was a plus 29.

“That was a great game,”  Vesely said. “Everybody enjoyed playing. We played together and helped each other on defense. On offense, we just had fun. It was a great game to play.”

Guard John Wall had 12 points and six assists in his second game back and Randy Wittman knows what good guard play can bring to this team.

“If you get good guard play, you have a chance to win games. John coming back helps that, obviously.”

The Wizards shot 56.1% on the night, first time all season they’ve gone over the 50% mark from the field.

Whenever we move the ball, we have movement off the ball and then playing great defense, we’re a great team…it’s going to be tough to really deal with us down the stretch,”  rookie guard Bradley Beal said.

Listen here to what Randy Wittman, John Wall, Jan Vesely, A.J. Price & Bradley Beal had to say following the win.

Randy Wittman Postgame Audio

01-14-13 Randy Wittman Postgame RAW

John Wall Postgame Audio

01-14-13 John Wall Postgame RAW

Jan Vesely Postgame Audio

01-14-13 Jan Vesely Postgame RAW

A.J. Price Postgame Audio

01-14-13 AJ Price Postgame RAW

Bradley Beal Postgame Audio

01-14-13 Bradley Beal Postgame RAW

 

 

Wizards Postgame Audio: Wittman, Beal & Many More Talk Win!

WASHINGTON–The Washington Wizards defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 101-99 in their fifth victory of the season.  Bradley Beal had 22 points including the game winner and with three regular guys out due to injuries, Wizards Head Coach Randy Wittman was very pleased with Beal’s and everyone else’s effort tonight.

“I couldn’t of been more prouder of a group of guys then these guys showed me tonight,”  Wittman said.

Beal, even though they shot 10 of 18 from three, said it was their defense that won it today.  Beal also talked about the effort AJ Price and Trevor Ariza gave, since without them, they would’ve only had seven guys play tonight.  Wittman said he begged them to play, but had full doctor approval before hand.  Price said he’s been wanting to play for a few games.

Listen here to what Randy Wittman, Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza, A.J. Price, Martell Webster & Jan Vesely had to say following the win.

Randy Wittman Postgame Audio

01-07-13 Randy Wittman Postgame RAW

Bradley Beal Postgame Audio

01-07-13 Bradley Beal Postgame RAW

Trevor Ariza Postgame Audio

01-07-13 Trevor Ariza Postgame RAW

A.J. Price Postgame Audio

01-07-13 AJ Price Postgame RAW

Martell Webster Postgame Audio

01-07-13 Martell Webster Postgame RAW

Jan Vesely Postgame Audio

01-07-13 Jan Vesely Postgame RAW

How are the Wizards progressing? Revisiting our preseason projections

Before the holidays I committed to writing a preview of the Wizards 2011-12 season. I called it “a paper-trail long enough to hang myself with” at seasons end, and it’s time to see how that process has progressed.

Here’s a Bullet-by-Bullet look at my predictions, along with a bit of “Perception vs. Reality” based on some, you know, actual empirical evidence:

  1. Perception: They will miss the playoffs for the fourth straight year. Reality: that was a gimmie. The Wizards were the NBA’s last winless team, so dreams of a playoff birth were scuttled early. Unless the Wizards second half can match Miami and OKC’s first, the team will again be lottery bound—which isn’t such a bad thing for this team. And while this doesn’t seem like going out on much of a limb now, there were definite whispers in the off-season that the team culture might just have changed enough to sneak into the playoffs. It certainly won’t be this year, and the level of difficulty so far this season portends that it might not be next year either.
  2. Perception: The team will have a better winning percentage than last season. Reality: Not so fast. Right now the Wizards are winning only 21% of their games, compared to 28% last season. The team came on down the stretch last year, and if they can slightly improve on their pace post-Saunders (5-14 thus far) they may be capable of making it. Winning a third of their contests appears overly optimistic, as the Wiz would have to go 15-18 down the stretch to prove me right–or at least 12-21 to prove me technically-not-totally wrong.
  3. Perception: The Wizards won’t have any All-Stars. Reality: Spot on. Some fans had high hopes for John Wall this season, but as I mentioned in the preview he has some tough competition in the East. Rajon Rondo replaced Joe Johnson in the mid-season contest, so in a roundabout way that prediction was spot on. More generally, the lack of a truly breakout campaign from any of the Wizards youth meant a lack of invites—except, of course, for Wall and the Skills Challenge <sigh>.
  4. Perception: The team will be active at the trade deadline. Reality: TBD. This is the one that matters most to the Wizards now, but is also the only one we cannot yet evaluate. Given their poor start, I imagine this will be as important as ever.
  5. Perception: The ‘Zards will creep up to fourth place in the Southeast Division. Reality: So far so bad? Charlotte’s abysmal season has begun to overshadow the Wizards peerlessly pathetic start, so this prediction appears on track. The Bobcats, however, have suffered injuries to some of their…how should I say…better players, and still have plenty of time to leapfrog the Wiz in the standings. Neither team has much to brag about at this juncture.
  6. Perception: You’ll see a whole lot of uneven performances. Reality: Unfortunate reality. While the Wizards have not beaten the Hawks, Magic or Celtics and have beaten the Raptors twice already this season, the prediction was valid. They’ve lost to the Raptors, Nets and Kings while also beating the Thunder and Trailblazers. While five of their seven wins came against teams with the five worst records in the NBA, the Wizards have certainly been a game-by-game, and even quarter by quarter, proposition.
  7. Perception: Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee will each average career highs in rebounds. Reality: Too much to ask from both front court mates. Blatche is averaging only 7.1 boards a game, down from last year’s career high of 8.3. McGee is up to 8.8 from last year’s high of 8.0, and has shown marginal improvement in his positioning. Both players have actually increased their rebound rate—the number they collect per minute—but sadly that does not excuse from likely failure in two of the three measures of this prediction (season total, per game, per minute). Blatche has missed half the team’s games, and while McGee held up his end of the bargain it will take a herculean effort from a healthy ‘Dray down the stretch to correct his per game average.
  8. Perception: Nick Young will flirt with 20 points per game. Reality: flirtatious advances rebuffed so far. Young’s actually down a tick from last season’s career high, averaging “only” 17.2 a contest. He’s upped that to 18.4 in February, but his true shooting percentage is at a career low 51% (he shot 54% last season). Otherwise, his statistics are startlingly similar to his ones from the previous season, something the Wiz didn’t want to see from a guy finally getting his “chance” as a starter. The abbreviated preseason and Young’s corresponding contract issues have contributed, but the fact remains Young has been more productive on a per minute basis coming off the bench these past two seasons—albeit this year in a limited sample size. What affect that has on contract negotiations this summer is yet to be seen.
  9. Perception: Shelvin Mack will be the back-up point guard by the end of the season. Reality: Didn’t even take that long. Mack has already become the regular first-in for Wall, though Jordan Crawford still gets more minutes playing as a combo guard over the course of the game. That was to be expected, I think, but Mack’s ability to run an NBA offense has been a pleasant surprise. At times he’s seemed better prepared running sets than Wall, and he’s not nearly as turnover prone as his speedy counterpart (2.4 per 48 minutes to Wall’s 5.4). He’s also slowly improving his shooting percentage month over month, so while he doesn’t have the tantalizing upside, he’s proving himself capable as a NBA backup.
  10. Perception: Trevor Booker will have as many memorable dunks as Jan Vesely. Reality: Win by default. The thing is…there just haven’t been many memorable Vesely throw downs this season. He has showcased his motor, size and leaping ability numerous times this year on the defensive end—those are all real. But Vesely is making a pretty dramatic transition to NBA ball, and while he was billed as one of the draft’s more “NBA ready” prospects he’s also getting sporadic minutes in a crowded forward rotation. Trevor Booker, on the other hand, has continued to impress after some quality appearances last season. He’s got some of the most electric dunks and blocks in the game, is an above average rebounder for his size, and is tenacious on the defensive end. He sports the 3rd best PER on the team, and is posting 10 points (55% FG), seven boards, a block and a steal a game in February.
  11. Perception: The Wizards most improved player will be…Andray Blatche. Reality: Not in this world, apparently. This one was doomed by the first post-game press conference. After blowing a big lead against the Nets, ‘Dray decried the lack of touches in the post…and then went to Twitter to “clarify” his comments—which, of course, always ends well. The ensuing media frenzy turned a demoralizing loss into an even more distracting situation, and Blatche has never been viewed the same by Wiz fans. 90% would probably trade him for a can of Campbell’s soup right now. The frequent booing he hears in the Verizon Center can’t make palatable motivation for the six year veteran—that is, when he’s actually on the court. While AB has been nicked up all season and missed half of the team’s games, his biggest problem has been his shooting efficiency, which dropped to 42% from 50% last season. His rebound rate is actually up, and his turnover and usage rates are down, so not all news is bad news. Who knows how long he’ll be around, but he certainly “need it n the post ” for some high percentage shots if he’s ever going to become a salvageable asset again.
  12. Prediction: The Wizards will be within 2% of 100 points per game—on offense and defense. Reality: Juuuust a bit outside. Defensively the Wiz kids have shown improvement, down from allowing 104.7 points per game last season to a merely conference worst 100.8 this year. As you might have guessed scoring is down league-wide, so Washington is still the third most porous defense in the Association after the first half—actually worse than last season’s sixth-to-last finish. Offensively the Wizards are scoring just under 92 points a contest, though that number jumps to over 97 in February after averaging 83 in three December contests and just under 90 in January. So while the Wizards offense is improving, they’ll be hard pressed to average the 104 points a game it will take to prove me in any way right about this one. That being said, the improvement since Flip Saunder’s departure is welcome.

So there you have it Ladies and Gentlemen: five predictions unlikely, one TBD and six on track. It’s been a whirlwind first half of the season, and hopefully we can look forward to the Wizards putting it all together down the stretch—or at least showing signs of continued development after a disappointing start.

Later this week: How to fix what ails the Wizards…

Wizards defend their turf against Durant, OKC

Reverse lock.

There’s no other way to explain it.  The Washington Wizards entered last night’s game with one win in 13 tries.  They hosted the Western Conference leading Oklahoma City Thunder, who came into Verizon Center with a 12-2 record and two legitimate NBA superstars, D.C. local product Kevin Durant and point guard Russell Westbrook.

Durant and Westbrook got theirs, combining for 69 points, but the Wizards got a relatively balanced attacked, hit some key free throws at the end, and overtook the Thunder for their second win of the season, 105-102, before an announced crowd of 15,075 — most of whom were on their feet in appreciation for the last two minutes of the game.

Washington outscored Oklahoma City by eight points combined in the third and fourth quarters to earn the victory.  The loss snaps the Thunder’s seven-game winning streak.

John Wall led the Wizards with 25 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.  The second-year point guard went toe-to-toe with Westbrook most of the night, and with time running down, the Wizards made sure the ball was in his hands for the Thunder to send him to the line when they had to intentionally foul.  Wall hit 5-of-6 free throws with less than a minute to play to help seal the win and was 13-of-14 from the line overall.  Wall even drew four offensive charging fouls with solid positional defense.

Nick Young poured in 24 points and went 5-for-10 from three-point range.  Jordan Crawford added 18 points and was 9-of-11 from the line as well.

As was the case in their previous win, the Wizards got a big boost when they went with a young line-up, getting an instant boost whenever Jan Vesely was on the court.  His stat line (6 points (on 3-of-6 shooting), 3 boards (all offensive), one steal and one block in 19 minutes) wasn’t overly impressive, but he brings an energy when he’s on the floor that seems to be infectious.

The game didn’t start off too hot for the Wizards, as they went 2-of-11 right off the bat.  But they never let Oklahoma City run away from them in the first half, setting up the improbable second half run.

Coach Flip Saunders talked about the little things the Wizards are starting to do right.   “We did the little things you need to do to play winning basketball.  We continue to work on [them], we continue to stress [them].  We get frustrated when [the players] don’t do them.  But when you do those little things, it results in wins.”

The game was not without its problems, unfortunately.

Andray Blatche continues to reside in the fans’ doghouse.  Inserted back into the starting lineup by Saunders, the forward was booed during pre-game introductions, and several times during the game.   “Man, from the time they called my name out, [the fans booed].  I tried to just keep my head in the game and just help my teammates.  Most important thing is that we won.”

Blatche actually started to pass up open jumpers to avoid a possible miss, and thus hear it again from the crowd.  “It’s tough taking some open shots when, if I take one and I miss, the boos come on.  I don’t know.  It stems down your shot selection.  It’s tough.”

But the Wizards shouldn’t dwell on the negatives surrounding this game.  It was a big win, they got the crowd squarely in their favor as the last couple of minutes ticked away, and they knocked off a team that they really had no business being within 20 points of at the end.  No, this is a game that you savor, and stash away for later in the season when the team needs a pick-me-up.

There will be plenty of time for more negativity as this season progresses.

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