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Brooks hopes for improvement from Burke, Wizards' bench

Brooks hopes for improvement from Burke, Wizards' bench

After two losses to begin their season, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks sees room for improvement from all over his roster, including his new-look bench.

With several new faces working to find a chemistry together in their second unit, the results have been a mixed bag, particularly on defense where the Wizards as a whole have so far allowed opponents to shoot an NBA-high 47.2 percent from the field.

"Defensively, we have to get better," he said. "That second unit, I thought did not respond defensively after a missed shot. You can't get down on a missed shot. You've got to play defense, get back and try to score the next possession offensively."

Brooks pointed to the absence of rim protector Ian Mahinmi as a major factor in their struggles on that end of the floor.

Instead of Mahinmi manning the middle for their reserve unit, those responsibilities have fallen on Andrew Nicholson and Jason Smith, two of the team's other free agent signings this offseason.

Mahinmi will be out two to three more weeks. For now, it will be up to others on the Wizards' bench to fill the void. One player Brooks is hoping to see more from is Trey Burke, the former ninth overall pick whom the Wizards traded for this offseason to be their primary backup guard.

"He has to continue to get better [as the backup point guard]. It's a role that I'm comfortable with him playing," Brooks said. "With John [Wall] coming back from his rehab and getting into better NBA game shape, there's minutes. There's 14-17 minutes in a given night."

Burke explained some of the second unit's struggles on offense after practice on Tuesday at the Verizon Center. Part of it is communication, which should be easier on Wednesday with the crowd behind them in their home opener against the Raptors.

"For the backcourt, for the second unit, we just have to be better at allowing the bigs to know what we are calling," Burke said. "Get into our sets quick. I think a lot of our trouble is getting into a play with 16 on the shot clock. Now we're fighting up against the shot clock. We'll have three or four seconds left and now we're just forcing up a shot. That's not good."

The Wizards' bench is so far shooting 45 percent collectively, but that is skewed by some garbage time buckets against the Hawks in their season opener. Guys like Burke (5.5 ppg) and second-year forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. (5 ppg) have yet to make their presence felt on offense.

"It's going to take time. Obviously, we've had all preseason and two games up to this point, but it's still going to take time, man," Burke explained. "It's a new coaching staff. We've got eight new players. We knew it wasn't going to gel right away. Obviously, the starting five, they were all here last year, so they are all gelling more than the second unit is right now… we have to be better as a second group and we will."

If Brooks is convinced to make changes to his rotation, he may have to turn to inexperienced players. Rookie Tomas Satoransky is one who could push Burke, in particular, but Brooks isn't quite ready to give him significant minutes.

It could also mean playing starters with bench players more often. 

"We might have to experiment on mixing and matching some of our starters with that second unit," Brooks said.


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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Wizards' 122-105 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night...

1. This was a tough one for the Wizards. For the third time this season, they got beaten by the Hornets and for the second straight time it was in a blowout.

They still had their moments, though, including this alley-oop from Tomas Satoransky (11 points) to Markieff Morris (13 points, eight assists, six rebounds). It was the second alley-oop connection for those two in as many games:


2. This was a play that encapsulated the Wizards' night. Jodie Meeks drew a flagrant foul on Michael Carter-Williams, but took a hard shot to the head:

3. Kelly Oubre, Jr. had a solid game with 11 points, including this big dunk:


4. Speaking of Oubre, he helped the Wizards close the first half with a late surge. The real highlight was Bradley Beal stealing the ball and hitting a corner three at the buzzer:

5. Beal ended up with 33 points, six assists and six rebounds. Here's an and-1 he got to go down in the second half:

All in all, it was an ugly performance for the Wizards. To cheer you up, we'll leave you with this young fan who had a great time at Capital One Arena despite the result:



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Wizards suffer lopsided loss against Hornets, who have had their number this season

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Wizards suffer lopsided loss against Hornets, who have had their number this season

The Washington Wizards lost to the Charlotte Hornets 122-105 on Friday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Bad matchup: Despite their poor record, there is something about this Charlotte Hornets team that gives the Wizards trouble. The Wizards lost to the Hornets (26-33) for the third time in three tries this season on Friday night and, aside from a push in the third quarter, they were never really in it.

All in all, it was a dud of a game for the Wizards who were probably due for one. They had won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall got injured. They were also coming off a huge road win the night before in Cleveland, a game that started an hour later than usual.

It was a tough turnaround and the Wizards sure looked like it. It was evident in their defense and unforced errors. They did, however, have a decent shooting night. They shot 49.4 percent from the field 16-for-17 from the free throw line.

The Wizards' second unit didn't provide a lift outside of Kelly Oubre, Jr. (11 points). Mike Scott, one of their best bench options, was held scoreless.


Ugly first half: The Wizards only trailed by 12 points at halftime, but that score was skewed by a five-point push in the final seconds. The Hornets dominated for much of the first two quarters and did so by hitting threes and forcing turnovers. Those mistakes dug the Wizards a hole they never recovered from.

The Wizards had 10 turnovers in the first half, the same amount they had in their entire game the night before. Limiting mistakes was a big reason they beat the Cavaliers, yet the script was flipped by Charlotte.

The Hornets capitalized with 23 points off those 10 first-half turnovers. The Wizards had 14 giveaways for the games that led to 28 total points. 

Charlotte was 7-for-11 from three at one point in the first half and finished 17-for-39 (43.6%) for the game. That is very uncharacteristic for the Wizards, who entered the night second in the NBA in opponents three-point percentage.

Again, though, the first half ended well as Oubre and Bradley Beal gave the Wizards a jolt in the final seconds:


Bad defense: The Wizards have played some great defense in recent weeks, but they just didn't have it on Friday night. Most surprising were the guys that hurt them most.

Dwight Howard was limited to 11 points and six rebounds and Kemba Walker didn't score his first points until the final minute of the first half. But others like Frank Kaminsky (23 points), Marvin Williams (15 points) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14 points) got pretty much anything they wanted.

For Walker, it was a tale of two halves. He was held in check by Tomas Satoransky in the first half, but broke out in the third quarter and finished with 24 points and seven rebounds. Maybe it was tired legs on the Wizards' part, but Walker just kept dribbling until he got space and once he did, he knocked down shots.

Much like Kyle Lowry did a few weeks ago, Walker made adjustments to find success against Satoransky. We haven't seen that happen much since Wall went out, but those two have given him some trouble. Both guys are considerably smaller than Satoransky and very quick. Maybe there's something to that.

Add it all up and this was one of the worst defensive games of the season for the Wizards. They allowed their most points in a game since Jan. 17 against, you guessed it, the Hornets. Only three times this year have they given up more than what they allowed on Friday.

No Sessions: The Wizards did not debut their newest player on Friday night, which was probably to be expected given Ramon Sessions has not had any practice time yet. That is part of why he didn't play, but it's also another indication that he is unlikely to play much with the Wizards. Sessions is on a 10-day contract and is not expected to supplant either Satoransky or Tim Frazier at point guard. Frazier would seem to be the guy in danger of losing minutes, but it was business as usual for him against the Hornets.

Up next: The Wizards are off Saturday before returning to action at home against the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.