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Ariza’s offensive struggles continue

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Ariza’s offensive struggles continue

Trevor Ariza's transition with the Wizards to date let's call it bumpy. Or clanking. Let's just not call it smooth, not yet.
 
Against the Knicks in Thursday's preseason game, Ariza missed six of seven shots including all three inside the 3-point arc and finished with seven points. Through two games, Washington's current starting small forward is 3-for-15 from the field with seven turnovers, though six came in the opener at Charlotte.
 
Ideally, the 27-year-old serves as a complimentary player within the starting unit - primary wing defender, fast break partner for John Wall. With the current lineup missing Wall and others, Ariza's tasked with not only being the experienced hand - his eight NBA seasons top the seven combined by Washington's other starters against New York - but also a primary threat.
 
"He’s, I think, trying to fit in," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said following the 108-101 loss to New York. "What he’s doing is determining plays in his mind no matter what the defense is doing, and he can’t do that. He’s got to do a better job."
 
The career 32 percent shooter from 3-point range also must do a better job in his coach's estimation of taking the opportunities presented through the play execution.
 
"I thought one of the first possessions of the game, he had a wide open three, and he turned it down and drove it into three guys and tried to get a shot off," Wittman said. "It’s hard in this league to get an open jump shot, and if we pass up an open jump shot, the next shot is going to be a bad shot, guaranteed."
 
With Wittman and the coaching staff still learning how best to use their many new pieces, both starting and rotational roles are still in flux (at least for those not named John Wall, Nene and likely Emeka Okafor). The coach hinted at changes for Saturday's starting lineup at Cleveland. Regardless of whether he is on court for that opening tap or not, Ariza likely hasn't shot himself out of the first team mix when the games turn real. Still, it would be nice if he could turn those numbers around, like

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' win over Sixers

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' win over Sixers

Here are the five best moments from the Washington Wizards' 120-115 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night at Capital One Arena

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1. John Wall posted up T.J. McConnell and finished with a thunderous left-handed slam in what was clearly the play of the game.

This may go down as one of the best dunks of the entire Wizards season:

2. Wall had some great dunks, but he played a solid game overall with 28 points and eight assists. Check out this block on Markelle Fultz, a fellow No. 1 overall pick who was making his NBA debut:

3. Kelly Oubre, Jr. had a strong game with 14 points and seven rebounds. He did a great job pitching in when Jason Smith left with an injury. His best play was this ridiculous putback dunk. Everything in the universe aligned perfectly for him to put one back and rock Capital One Arena in the process:

Oubre's postgame quote on the dunk was sensational:

"Man, I don't know. I just jumped in the air and the ball was in the rim. I blacked out, honestly, in that moment. I'm just happy it happened. It was all God. God took over my soul at that point."

4. Marcin Gortat had a monster night with 16 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks. Ten of his points came in the fourth quarter alone, including this powerful dunk assisted by Wall. Gortat broke out his signature celebration afterwards:

5. Wall could not be stopped in the second half. This was his second-best dunk of the night, but still a great highlight:

Afterwards, when Wall was asked about his collection of dunks, he replied: "it's Wolf Season, just keep watching."

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Marcin Gortat dedicates big game against Sixers to late former Polish teammate Adam Wójcik

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Marcin Gortat dedicates big game against Sixers to late former Polish teammate Adam Wójcik

Marcin Gortat is a legend in his home country of Poland and on Wednesday night he paid homage to one of his predecessors.

Adam Wójcik, one of the most decorated Polish basketball players of all time, passed away in August after a battle with Leukemia. Months later, in the first game of the 2017-18 season, Gortat took the floor with Wójcik's initials, the date of his death, a cross and 'RIP' inscribed on his shoes.

Gortat went out and delivered one of the best games of his career. He had 16 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks, just the third time in his 11 NBA seasons he has posted those numbers. His production was pivotal in the Wizards' 120-115 win over the Sixers in their season opener.

"I'm just glad I did that wearing the initials of the greatest players from Poland, Adam Wójcik," Gortat said. "I'm glad in the first game, we came up with a win."

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Ten of Gortat's points came in the fourth quarter, as he consistently fed off pick-and-roll mismatches. John Wall found him over and over, including for a big dunk that allowed Gortat to do his signature Polish Hammer celebration.

That Wall-to-Gortat combination is something head coach Scott Brooks wants to see more of.

"It’s simple for him. I’ve been telling him for about a year and at the start of this season," Brooks said. "You run into your screen and you roll out, and you’re going to get open looks. We have some special players handling the ball. They’re going to have to guard with an extra man and if he rolls hard, he’s going be able to finish."

Wójcik died at just 47 years old after a long and successful basketball career. He won eight Polish League championships and won MVP three times. Gortat and Wójcik played together for the Polish national team and Wójcik is someone Gortat looked up to for a long time.

"I dedicate this game to him," he said.

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