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4th-quarter drought dooms Wizards vs. Warriors: Five takeaways

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4th-quarter drought dooms Wizards vs. Warriors: Five takeaways

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The game plan for becoming the first team to beat the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena is a simple one. "They're a team that's beatable but you've got to play a heck of a game to beat them," Wizards point guard John Wall said before Tuesday's game. "Even a game they're not supposed to win they find a way."

The Wizards (36-38) made them look beatable for most of three quarters, but eventually the dam breaks as a 21-4 fourth quarter run did them in. The Warriors (67-7) are 36-0 at home after a 102-94 in front of their 170th consecutive sellout. 

Unlike the playground-type of matchup that produced a 134-121 win for Golden State two months ago in Verizon Center when Steph Curry had 51 points to Wall's 41, this was a much more measured pace. 

Curry (26 points) led all scorers followed by Klay Thompson (16 points), Draymond Green (15 points, 16 rebounds, nine assists) and Harrison Barnes (14 points, nine rebounds).

"The way they stay calm and poised throughout a whole 48-minute game," Wall said about Golden State. "No matter if they're down or up they stay poised and give themselves a chance."

The Wizards were three-quarters of the way there which isn't nearly good enough. They were able to slow the tempo early and keep any deficit to ballooning to double-digits. And they played as intelligent of a game as they have all season until the end.

Bradley Beal (17 points) only scored two after halftime but he still led the Wizards followed by Markieff Morris (15 points, seven rebounds), Otto Porter (11 points, six rebounds), Nene (10 points), Marcin Gortat (nine points, 11 rebounds) and Wall (eight points, 11 assists, five rebounds, four blocks).

This is the first game of a back-to-back with the Sacramento Kings up next tonight.

  • The difference in how each team ran its offense early was evident. While Golden State moved the ball with all five players touching it, Washington bogged down in too many isolations. Morris was guilty of it twice and he took two contested mid-range shots that missed. Gortat went 1 on 1 with Andrew Bogut (two points, five rebounds) and settled for a jump hook farther out than he's comfortable. Porter dribbled excessively out of traffic, turned back to the basket and was long on a pull-up jumper. Nothing wrong with missing shots but they made it easy for an elite defensive team by not making them have to rotate and adjust which is why they fell behind 20-12. The pick-and-roll between Wall and Gortat disappeared in the second half as the Wizards opted to go small, and Wall, Beal and Gortat combined to score four points in the second half.
  • Six turnovers in the first quarter put the Warriors in transition, but the Wizards forced four and had an 11-7 edge in fast-break points. They only attempted one three-point shot, missed by Jared Dudley, but made seven trips to the foul line (six made). They also were able to put Thompson in early foul trouble to get him off the court and bothered Curry into 6 of 17 shooting through the early part of the third quarter. 
  • The Wizards had a good game plan defensively and were switching everything 1-5 and Gortat was careful not to pressure Bogut with the ball 15 feet away from the basket. That allowed him, or whoever was at the five spot, to zone for help coverage on Curry or Thompson. When Thompson was on the floor without Curry, the Wizards trapped the ball out of his hands and dared other scorers to beat them. Where the Wizards erred is during a 12-2 run by Golden State to enter the half. They went from down 44-37 to ahead 49-46 as Dudley was caught on switches vs. Curry but didn't have the proper help from the big stepping up to slow the dribble penetration. Morris probably was better-suited in that situation but he'd been subbed out so he wouldn't pick up foul No. 3. That resulted in easy buckets that weren't Dudley's fault, but Dudley also missed an open jumper during that run and made a bad pass for a turnover that add fuel to the Warriors' fire. 
  • The open shots were there for Morris who missed two wide-open threes. Had he been able to make any of them, it would've opened up the floor better for Wall. His matchup with Green never really materialized in the first half as Morris once again got into early foul trouble. He missed the previous game with the Lakers because of soreness in his left calf. But Morris lit up the Warriors for three three-pointers in the third quarter. The Wizards trimmed a 61-53 deficit to 61-60 and then trailed 72-62 and had it down to 72-70 with 2:20 left. When they started stretching out the defense with Green stepping out to Morris, it opened the backdoor for Beal who had his only second-half basket on a bounce pass for a dunk. 
  • Nene wasn't able to exploit is matchups with Anderson Varejao or Mo Speights and the ball stuck too much when the offense ran through him on the low block. When he was with the second unit, the double teams continually came from the weakside to cause turnovers on the strip. And when Nene would turn into the lane, a guard would dive down and force him into a travel or a bad pass out to the wing. In 17 minutes he gave away the ball five times. Even worse, the Wizards allowed a manageable 79-72 deficit entering the fourth quarter to grow to double digits against Golden State's reserve unit. Curry, Thompson and Green weren't on the floor as the Wizards' defensively disconnected second unit blew repeated help coverages for three uncontested layups. They lost their edge and had no path for coming back.

MORE WIZARDS: Chris Paul's withdrawal opens Olympic path for John Wall

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Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

On a roll

The Wizards have some serious momentum going right now. With an impressive win over the Cavs on Thursday, they have now won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. They had a week off due to the All-Star break, but didn't show any rust at all in their first game back.

The Wizards are now 34-24, 10 games above the .500 mark. They are fourth in the East and could move into third on Friday if they win and the Cavaliers lose. Even with Wall out, things continue to look up for Washington.

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Hornets have had their number

The Wizards haven't done so well against the Hornets so far this season. Charlotte has taken both meetings and that includes a 24-point win on Jan. 17. That game featured Dwight Howard taunting the Wizards late in the fourth quarter.

Howard has killed the Wizards through two games with averages of 22.0 points and 14.0 rebounds. Jeremy Lamb (20.0 ppg vs. Wizards) has been a big factor as well as All-Star Kemba Walker (21.5 ppg vs. Wizards).

The last time these teams played about a month ago frustrations boiled over in an incident that got Tim Frazier ejected. Michael Carter-Williams picked a fight with Jason Smith and Frazier went off:

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Hornets coming in hot

The Hornets are outside the playoff picture at the moment at eight games below .500, but they have won two straight games and Walker and Howard are coming off huge games. In a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, Walker dropped 31 points and Howard grabbed 24 rebounds.

Those guys will be riding a high coming into Washington on Friday. But it should be noted that Howard complained after the game how tired he is at this point in the season. That exhausion could affect him more in the second game of a back-to-back.

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 110-103 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night...

1. The Wizards didn't start out well, as they trailed by nine points at the end of the first quarter. Kelly Oubre, Jr. stumbled early by missing four of his first six shots and it looked like a carryover of his slump before the All-Star break.

But Oubre got hot in the second quarter and helped the Wizards turn the game around. This was one of his best plays, a two-handed slam that he celebrated with an emphatic scream to the crowd:

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2. Tomas Satoransky was one of the stars of the game. He had 17 points to go along with eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. 

Here's one of his dimes, a perfect alley-oop lob to Markieff Morris, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds:

3. Satoransky has reached double-figures in six of the 10 games since John Wall went out with an injury. This was a very impressive move, a stepback fadeaway that was super smooth:

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4. Ian Mahinmi made some key contributions including four offensive rebounds and a steal. This was his best basket, a powerful slam that came at a key time:

5. This play helped seal the victory. It was a smart after-timeout set drawn up by head coach Scott Brooks and it worked to perfection:

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