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Dave Johnson: Pistons Deal Wizards 6th Straight Loss

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Dave Johnson: Pistons Deal Wizards 6th Straight Loss

Friday, March 12, 2010 10:40pm

Wizards vs. Pistons Game Highlights & PostgameBy Dave Johnson
CSNWashington.comAuburn Hills, Michigan----It got late early for the Washington Wizards. Tired from playing the Hawks the night before, the Wizards were in no position to play from behind but had to after committing five turnovers in the first ten minutes of a 101-87 loss to the Detroit Pistons.The Pistons jumped on the Wizards early with strong defensive pressure in the half-court and forced the Wizards to play at a higher tempo than they wanted too. With the Wizards early miscues the Pistons were able to build a twelve point lead at 26-14 with 2:20 left in the first quarterWe just had too many turnovers too early, said Wizards head coach Flip Saunders. It was kind of the same thing. We just could not get into our offense.The Pistons had little trouble getting into their offense and the Wizards were helping them. By half-time the Pistons had 18 points off Wizards turnovers as they built a 56-40 lead.All night long the Pistons pushed the ball and ended up with a 28-11 advantage in fast break points. Will Bynum had 20 of the Pistons 31-assists, while Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and rookie Jonas Jerebko each led the Pistons with 18-points.Andray Blatche led the Wizards with 23-points and 10-rebounds and played through fatigue to finish 11 of 22 from the field after struggling for the first three quarters. Unfortunately for the Wizards JaVale McGee was unable to produce an encore performance and was limited to four points and four rebounds.As good as JaVale was last night, and some said he has All Star potential, he was more like a CBA All star tonight, Saunders said of McGee who scored a career high 20 points on Thursday against the Hawks.He played about twenty minutes and we were minus-19 when he was on the floor, Saunders added. He had no energy and we had no presence around the basket and they just out worked us.Looking for a spark to help trigger a second-half come back, James Singleton replaced McGee in the Wizards lineup early in the third quarter. Singleton delivered and was particularly effective during a two-minute span of the third quarter when he scored six of his seven points on the night.A sluggish offense briefly looked alive as Singleton cut into the lane and received a crisp pass from Blatche on the baseline and then finished with a slam dunk to bring the Wizards within nine points at 66-57.Singleton again went to the basket and after a goaltending call on Jason Maxiell had the Wizards within seven points at 66-59 with 3:06 left in the third quarter. The rally ended there as the Pistons then closed the quarter on an 11-4 run.To the Wizards credit there was not a full collapse. In the final quarter the Wizards actually shot 64 percent from the field and matched the Pistons in scoring with 24-points, but paid the price for all their early mistakes when they struggled to establish their offense.It is all part of the learning experience for our players, Saunders noted. It is tough because we have guys going out there and competing but they are making mental mistakes and it emotionally wears you done.

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How the Wizards have taken Raptors big man Serge Ibaka out of the series on offense

How the Wizards have taken Raptors big man Serge Ibaka out of the series on offense

The Wizards-Raptors first round playoff series has evolved to feature the emergence of several players who started off slowly including Bradley Beal, Marcin Gortat and Kelly Oubre, Jr. The opposite has happened for Toronto big man Serge Ibaka.

After Ibaka lit up the Wizards for 23 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks in Game 1, there has been a disappearance. His scoring has gone missing and it's a big reason why the Wizards have won two straight games and earned a 2-2 series split.

Head coach Scott Brooks knows Ibaka well from their days in Oklahoma City. He helped develop Ibaka and has since watched from afar as his game has changed to include a consistent outside game.

Brooks has on several occasions referred to Ibaka as one of the best three-point shooting big men in the league. The numbers back that up. Last season, he shot 39.1 percent from three on 4.0 attempts per game, excellent for a 6-foot-10 power forward.

This season that number dipped to 36 percent, but he hit 41 percent of his threes in his final 16 games of the regular season. That carried over into the playoffs when he went 3-for-4 in Game 1 as part of an 8-for-11 shooting night overall.

The Wizards made a point to take away those outside shots following their series-opening defeat. The way they are doing that is by crowding him when he gets the ball, even if it means him getting past the initial defender.

"You want to make sure you meet him on the catch. You want to take away his shot," Brooks said. "When he gets open shots, they are money. He's going to knock them down... We did a good job of meeting him on his catch and making him put the ball on the floor with his left hand. You can live with the results."

After his 23-point outburst in Game 1, Ibaka has scored just 20 points total in the last three games. He has gone 2-for-6 from three.

The Wizards are taking away his shot attempts in general. He took 11 shots in each of the first two games of this series, but just four in Game 3 and five in Game 4. In Game 3 he had three points and three turnovers and on Sunday he had seven points and four turnovers.

Here are two examples of the Wizards' defense on Ibaka. On this first play, Markieff Morris meets Ibaka as soon as he catches the ball and the result is a turnover:

On this next play, Morris follows Ibaka all the way to the rim and even though he goes up on a pump fake, Morris recovers to alter Ibaka's shot and force a miss:

The Wizards, however, did get away with one against Ibaka. He was left wide open for a three in the final minute, but the shot rimmed out:

As the first two plays demonstrate, Morris deserves a lot of credit for the Wizards' success against Ibaka. He has the size and mobility to keep up with him and is willing to use contact to his advantage.

"Just playing the tendencies," Morris said. "We're making them do things they are uncomfortable with and are getting better results."

Ibaka was fourth on the Raptors this season in points per game and third in shot attempts. He is their third option behind All-Star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. If the Wizards can continue to lock up Ibaka, it will be difficult for the Raptors to beat them.

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MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

OUBRE IS HELPING THE WIZARDS WIN IN MANY WAYS

WALL WAS DUNKING ALL OVER RAPTORS BIG MEN

MUST-SEE MOMENTS FROM GAME 4 WIN

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Death Row D.C. and the Wizards are back

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Death Row D.C. and the Wizards are back

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes and Chris Miller were joined by Julie Donaldson to break down the Wizards' wins in Games 3 and 4.

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and Marcin Gortat are back and the Wizards are a different team because of it. Plus, how regaining their Death Row D.C. mentality has changed this series.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!