January 27, 2015

Washington Wizards Game 44 Review: For the second game in a row, the Wizards let one get away

After letting one get away against the Oklahoma City Thunder in overtime Wednesday night, the Washington Wizards faced déjà vu on the road against a Western Conference power house in the Portland Trail Blazers, falling 105-96 on Saturday. On a positive note, Paul Pierce joined the likes of Ray Allen, Reggie Miller, and Jason Terry in making 2,000 three point shots.

The first quarter started with a hot shooting start for the Wizards and a cold one for the Trail Blazers. Less than four minutes into the game, Portland’s coach Terry Stotts was forced to call a timeout as his team was down 13-2. This was motivated after Washington started out 6 of 9 from the field, while Portland was struggling with a 0 for 9 performance. The shooting woes for the Trail Blazers didn’t last as LaMarcus Aldridge, who decided to play in this game instead of immediately having thumb surgery, made five shots. Portland finished the quarter shooting 9 of 16 (56%); however, Washington sustained their 58% shooting the entire quarter and led 32-20. [Read more…]

Washington Wizards Game 43 Review: Westbrook beats Wiz in overtime

After handling their business at home against the woeful Philadelphia 76ers on Martin Luther King Day, the Washington Wizards lost a heart breaker against the Oklahoma City Thunder in a 105-103 loss in overtime.

In overtime, Nene powered the Wizards with nine of the team’s eleven points in the session. However, the Wizards had no answer for the combination of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, who combined for the Thunder’s 13 points in the session. Durant hit an impossible three drifting away from the basket and with Paul Pierce’s hand in his face to give the Thunder a two-point lead with 36 seconds left in the game. Then off the final inbound pass, Russell Westbrook was given a clear lane to the basket for the game winning layup with 0.8 seconds left without a single contest. [Read more…]

Washington Wizards Game 41 Review: Wizards earn gritty win in Brooklyn

The Washington Wizards picked up a significant win over the Brooklyn Nets on the road on Saturday, 99-90. Washington (28-13) outscored the Nets by 12 over the final three quarters en route to the victory.

[Read more…]

Washington Wizards Game 39 Review: Wizards beat Eastern Conference contending Bulls again, this time on the road

After beating the defending NBA champs San Antonio Spurs a night before, the Washington Wizards kept their momentum going with an impressive 105-99 win against the Chicago Bulls. After not performing too well on a five-game road trip against some of the best in the Western Conference, the Wizards have shown on national television that they are indeed legit.

In the first quarter the Wizards looked like a team that had tired legs as they were slow out of the gates giving up turnovers that led to easy transition buckets and open shots from threes that the Bulls converted. Bradley Beal helped keep it close but the Wizards had no answer for Derrick Rose who could not miss (even from half-court at the buzzer). Washington was down to the Bulls 32-26 after the first frame. [Read more…]

Washington Wizards Game 13 Review: Streaking Hawks top Wiz

NENE SITS WITH INJURY

The Atlanta Hawks defeated the Washington Wizards, 106-102, Tuesday night at the Verizon Center in Washington. The Hawks have won six out of their last eight.

Mike Scott and former Wizard Shelvin Mack led a decisive 24-11 run at the beginning of fourth quarter by scoring 16 straight points to give the Hawks a 13-point lead. The game was tied at 66 going into the fourth quarter. The Wizards hit four late three-pointers to bring the score to its final margin.

The Hawks (7-5) never had a lead of larger than four before they broke it open. The largest Wizards lead was 10, at 22-12.

The Wizards (9-4) committed 25 turnovers. Bradley Beal was guilty of seven of them, while his backcourt mate John Wall turned the ball over six times.

“That was as bad as we could play offensively for whatever reason,” coach Randy Wittman said.”We were trying to do too much, over dribbling, ball sticking, and predetermining no matter what the defense was going to do. We just get in trouble like that. We had a little bit of that the first half in Milwaukee and we were able to come out of that and get it changed in the second half. That was trying to do too much by everyone.”

Bradley Beal was circumspect after the game.

“Yeah. I’m so upset at myself, I’ve never seen myself turn the ball over that many times. I think it is, everybody wants to just try and force it there and try and make a play and sometimes it just doesn’t fall in our favor, it’s a domino effect.”

Jeff Teague led the Hawks with 28 points. Paul Millsap scored 17 points and brought down 11 rebounds. Off the bench, Scott added 17 points, while Mack scored 13.

John Wall led the Wizards with 21 points and 13 assists. Marcin Gortat scored 12 points and contributed 11 rebounds.

Nene missed his first game of the season due to plantar fasciitis.

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.

Looking Back On The 2013-2014 Washington Wizards: The Dawning of a New Age in D.C.

Before the season, if you would have walked up to any Washington Wizards’ fan and told them that this team would get to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals before it was all over, you would have been met with many wide eyes and disbelieving shaking heads. With the recent history of the franchise, it would be hard to blame them. [Read more…]

Wizards vs Pacers Game 2 Preview: Is Bench Play A Concern For Washington?

In Game 1 of the NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Washington Wizards handily defeated the Indiana Pacers 102-96. They may have been separated by just six points on the scoreboard, but Washington took care of business like professionals on Monday night.

When it comes to the playoffs, your keys to victory are fairly simple. When you’re the road team, you can’t let the hometown crowd get inside your head. You need to play within yourself. It’s important to play your game and not get outside your comfort zone.

For the Wizards, they did all of those things and more in Game 1. They out-rebounded Indiana by nearly 20 and the play from the front-court tandem of Nene and Marcin Gortat was simply incredible. The duo combined for 27 points and 21 rebounds. All the while, the largest man on the floor, Roy Hibbert, was kept in check during his 18 minuets of play.

Hibbert’s postseason woes continued in Game 1. Save for his two blocks and one assist, it was a pretty dismal performance not worthy of the $14.2 million that he’s making this year. Not only did the All-Star center fail to score a point, but he also didn’t grab a rebound.

Where does that leave us with our keys to victory, then? If the Wizards won in nearly every facet of the game, then why even write a Game 2 preview? Doesn’t it seem like they have this series well in hand? Do they not have a weakness?

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The one place where the Wizards could fall victim to the Pacers lies simply within the box score (numbers never lie).

With the exception of 12 points and 13 rebounds from Drew Gooden, the Wizards’ bench was largely ineffective on Monday night. Together, they put up just 15 points, 14 rebounds, one assist and three turnovers. Collectively, the Wizards scored a net of -35 points with their bench. On the other side, Indiana found a spark from their bench that kept them in the game.

For the 15 seconds that the Pacers had the lead in the second quarter, you can attribute much of that to the bench. They scored 17 points in the first half and were responsible for their early-second quarter charge. Indiana’s bench scored 33 points and the team scored a net of just -15 points with their bench players.

By no means was either bench outrageously effective, but there’s no denying that Indiana’s certainly beat Washington’s. While the starting five for the Wizards were no match for Indiana’s, the bench for the Pacers allowed them to hang around. Had the Wizards not made nine straight free throws to end the game, Indiana could have stolen Game 1 from them.

It was a rather uncharacteristically slow night from Washington’s bench. Trevor Booker, a hero off the bench in the Wizards’ Game 5 victory over Chicago, recorded a mere assist and two turnovers in nine minutes of play. Martell Webster, who has been able to provide one-to-two three pointers a game this postseason, missed on his only shot attempt in 16 minutes.

For as good as the starting five has been this season, the bench has also been there to pick them up when they are down. While Nene was out with an injury for much of the second half of the regular season, it was Booker who stepped in and provided eight points and six rebounds in 45 starts.

Likewise, Andre Miller has been a suitable replacement off the bench for Bradley Beal or John Wall. In fact, in the regular season, Miller’s PER (Player Efficiency Rating) of 14.6 was actually .3 points higher than Beal’s. At 15.0, Booker’s PER was even better than that.

Washington has a golden opportunity on Wednesday night to push their lead to two games over the Pacers and be in complete control for another attempt at a series sweep in D.C. Indiana appears to be a frustrated bunch, largely in part to their non-existent big man. According to reports, David West was quite frustrated with Hibbert following their Game 1 loss.

Wall, Beal, Trevor Ariza, Nene and Gortat will be physical and aggressive as always, but strong play from the bench in Game 2 would mentally take a toll on the Pacers. In their eyes, there would simply be no let-up in Washington’s game, and they would be on the defensive all night long.

With another strong performance in Game 2, Washington could head home with the Pacers wrapped around their finger. Tipoff is set for 7 PM EST in Indianapolis.

Wizards vs Pacers Game 1 Recap: Total Team Effort Leads To Victory For Washington

Despite several comeback attempts by the Indiana Pacers, the Washington Wizards secured early control of the Eastern Conference Semifinals with their fourth road win of the postseason, 102-96.

While the two teams were separated by just six points on the scoreboard, Indiana was only in front for a mere 15-seconds in the second quarter. Other than that, it was all Wizards, all the time.

Washington began the game on a roll and immediately made the hometown crowd a non-factor. Trevor Ariza nailed two of his game-high six three pointers within the first minute of the game to help lead the Wizards to an early 8-0 lead.

Behind 11 first-quarter points from Ariza, Washington found themselves up 28-15 entering the second quarter. As we’ve seen throughout the postseason, however, the Wizards have gotten into a bad habit of letting their opponents back into a game in the second quarter. As we saw Monday night, old habits die hard.

The Pacers started the quarter on a roll with a 14-2 run to take the lead 31-30 with 8:15 remaining in the period. As Washington was able to do throughout the contest, they responded with a run of their own to retake control. After trading shots over the next three minutes, the Wizards pulled away to end the half.

In the final five minutes of the first half, Washington closed on a 15-6 run to take a 56-43 halftime lead. Any sort of momentum that the Pacers had built, the Wizards had quickly taken away. Ariza and Bradley Beal combined to go 3-for-4 from behind the arc in the final push before halftime.

After building a 60-44 lead in the opening minutes of the second half, Indiana began to chip away at the Wizards’ lead. To finish off a third quarter in which the two teams combined for just 32 points, Lance Stephenson scored nine points in the quarter as the Pacers closed the lead to seven on an 18-9 run.

Once again, the Wizards responded. Thanks to two free throws from Drew Gooden (12 points, 13 rebounds) and a three from Andre Miller, Washington widened their lead to 12, 74-62. For much of the fourth quarter, it was a back and forth battle where the Wizards were able to match Indiana shot for shot.

With five minutes remaining, Washington had it’s largest lead of the half, 92-78. All things seemed to be going their way, especially after a technical fouled was assessed to Indiana’s David West. For a third time, however, Indiana began to claw their way back into the contest.

It wasn’t all due to an elevated level of play by the Pacers, unfortunately, as Washington made it’s fair-share of mistakes. Following West’s technical foul, Beal missed three free throws and the Wizards committed several turnovers. With just two minutes remaining, the Pacers were lurking down 10 points.

Washington struggled at the free throw line for much of the second half, but it was their ability to make their freebies in the clutch that iced the game. In the final minute, Indiana made four three pointers. While the Pacers were hot from behind the arc, the Wizards made their final nine free throws to stay out front and secure the victory.

The scoreboard doesn’t show just how much better the Wizards were on this night. Washington out-rebounded Indiana 53-36 and held the advantage in assists 23-16. They made 10 threes and shot 41.7-percent from the floor.

Possibly the biggest advantage for the Wizards was the biggest man of the floor, Roy Hibbert. In 18 minutes, Hibbert failed to score or grab a rebound and committed five fouls. In the paint for the Wizards, Nene and Marcin Gortat combined for 27 points and 21 rebounds (15 rebounds for Gortat).

The front-court battle was also won by the Wizards. While George Hill had 18 points, it’s important to note that six of those came in a meaningless final-minute rally. Paul George finished with 18 points, but Ariza bested that with 22 points of his own.

A new dynamic duo is forming in the NBA with Beal and Wall. Beal poured in a game-high 25 points, seven assists and five steals. While Wall scored just 13 points on 4-of-14 shooting, he recorded a game-high nine assists. Wall was the leader on the floor and Beal took advantage of the opportunities created by him.

Washington is a perfect 4-0 on the road in the playoffs and certainly didn’t seem phased by the Indiana faithful on Monday in their Game 1 victory. The series stays in Indiana for Game 2 on Wednesday night. Tipoff is set for 7 PM EST.

Washington Wizards vs Indiana Pacers Game 1 Preview

On Monday night, the Washington Wizards and Indiana Pacers will go head-to-head in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals matchup. Series features teams that seem almost opposite of each other.

On the one hand, you’ve got the youthful and energetic Wizards. On the other, you’ve got the question mark that is the Pacers. After dominating for much of the regular season, they slowed near the end, but still entered the playoffs as the number-one seed in the east. For the Wizards, they fought tooth and nail all season long for their fifth-seed.

The Pacers biggest asset, literally, has been seemingly invisible this postseason. After averaging 10.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in the regular season, 7-2 center Roy Hibbert has barely managed half that in the postseason. Defensively, he hasn’t been effective as his blocks and steals are half that of his regular season averages, as well.

That could very well be where the Wizards hold the upper hand in this matchup. While John Wall and Bradley Beal have been a back-court duo to be feared, the impact that Nene and Marcin Gortat can have on this series is undeniable. The Wizards’ big men have both seen a minutes increase in the postseason and they are making those minutes count.

Gortat has been averaging nearly a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds per game this postseason. His heart and hustle in the low-post has been very beneficial for Washington. In their series-clinching Game 5 win over the Chicago Bulls, Gortat grabbed 13 rebounds, a playoff-high for him.

Just as important, if not more important, has been the play of Nene. After scoring 24 points to lead the Wizards to their Game 1 victory in Chicago, Nene then cooled a bit to score 17 and 10 points in Games 2 and 3. After serving his one game suspension, Nene returned with a vengeance to drop 20 points, grab seven rebounds and dish four assists in the decisive Game 5.

The one player on the Pacers’ front-court that Washington will need to defend and defend well is David West. The 10-year veteran power forward is averaging 13.4 points per game this postseason, highlighted by a 24-point performance in Game 6 to stave off elimination. It’s also important to note that Hibbert did have a 13-point game in Game 7, so it should be interesting to see if that’s the start of something big for him.

For the Wizards, the fact that they got out of the first round is a shock to many. As highlighted by the team’s Twitter page shortly after their series victory, all but one of the experts at ESPN had Chicago winning that series. Much of Washington’s success, however, was due to their ability to eliminate home-court advantage.

The series will open up in Indiana, but Washington has proven that playing on the road doesn’t phase them. They are 3-0 on the road this postseason and outscored the Bulls 278-261 in Chicago. That is no small task in front of the playoff atmosphere you usually find from the hometown crowd.

The last time the Wizards made the second round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs, they were swept by the Miami Heat in 2005. If you want to find their last berth in the conference finals, then you need to go all the way by to 1979 when they eventually lost to the then Seattle Supersonics in the NBA Finals.

The second round of the playoffs start Monday night. Tipoff for Game 1 is set of 7 PM EST in Indiana.

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