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Depleted Wizards run out of gas, lose to Bulls on the road

Depleted Wizards run out of gas, lose to Bulls on the road

If the long view of an 82-game season is what this is about for the Wizards, then the play of rookies Tomas Satoransky and Sheldon McClellan in a 106-95 loss to the Chicago Bulls should make them upbeat. But the fact is they're 2-7 after dropping the second game of a back-to-back.

John Wall (rest) and Bradley Beal (right thigh) did not play. Instead, Satoransky (12 points, nine assists) made his second start and produced five assists in a first quarter that Washington led 21-9 before the Bulls (6-4) made a run of their own to close the gap. 

Markieff Morris (24 points, 15 rebounds, three blocks) led the Wizards followed by Marcin Gortat (18 points, 14 rebounds) and McClellan (15 points). 

But they couldn't get past a disconnected third quarter in which the Bulls outscored them 28-14 to break open the game. Jimmy Butler (37 points) lead all scorers while Nikola Mirotic (17 points, 11 rebounds) did most of his damage late. 

  • McClellan and Satoransky didn't look out of their element when matched up with Rajon Rondo (0 points, five fouls in 25 minutes) and Dwyane Wade (14 points) on just 5 of 17 shooting. Rondo couldn't get to the rim and get his shot off on the 6-7 Satoransky. He finished 0-for-6. 
  • No Wall equals few transition points. When Wall missed last week's game in Orlando, the Wizards only had three on fast breaks. Though Satoransky did a more than competent job running the offense, the Wizards had just six.
  • Butler locked down Otto Porter (eight points), who didn't have Wall and Beal to take the pressure off of him so he could move freely around the offense. Porter was only 3-for-12 shooting in 29 minutes. Porter has been the Wizards’ best player all season but the strength of his game is movement and that’s not possible with the opposing defense game plans to take you away. 
  • Trey Burke went back to his old habits of being shaky running the offense. Coach Scott Brooks found something five games ago, when he started using Burke with two other ballhandlers on the floor and taking the responsibility of running the pick-and-rolls. But with Satoransky as a starter, he had to change his rotations. When the Bulls went on their spurt at the end of the third quarter to pull away, Burke was running the offense. He only had one turnover but that couldn’t have been more misleading. The Bulls were jumping passing lanes, especially Butler, who could read him looking at his target on the wings. The countless deflections that weren’t steals ruined any continuity in the Wizards’ offense.
  • Rookie Danuel House dressed and was available but didn’t play. Neither did Andrew Nicholson for the second game in a row or rookie Daniel Ochefu. Nicholson is the highest-priced acquisition in free agency ($26 million). Marcus Thornton (nine points) was just 4-for-14.

MORE WIZARDS: Brooks will re-evaluate Wall's rest soon

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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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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!