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'Everything clicking' when Wizards play defense like this


'Everything clicking' when Wizards play defense like this

The defensive posture that the Wizards have sorely lacked all season, at least for this first game following the All-Star break, is back. To jump into the playoff picture and have any chance to advance, they have to be the team they were Thursday night. 

The Jazz (26-27) had won seven of their last eight games but were tripped up because of their inferior guard play as John Wall, Garrett Temple and Otto Porter harassed them into 23 turnovers. 

"I was really proud of our guys today. We stressed coming out in doing some things defensively that was important for us to really try to speed their pace up," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "It all stemmed from what we were doing defensively. Our guys came out and executed that plan as good as I could ask."

John Wall had his 31st double-double of the season with 17 points and 11 assists. He added six rebounds and had just two turnovers. The Wizards (24-28) led by as many as 19 points, held the Jazz to 42 points in the first half. They're 12-5 when holding teams to 50 or fewer in the first two quarters.

Raul Neto and Trey Burke were no match as the ball-handlers for Utah. And they couldn't stop Wall or Bradley Beal from getting to wherever they wanted to on the floor. 

"Ball pressure was huge," Wittman said. "If you let a team come down that's good, just moving the ball A, B, C to D you're going to be in for a long night. We did a good job eliminating that."

The Jazz had a 48-36 edge against the NBA's worst rebounding team, but the defense bailed out Washington. Otto Porter recovered to block Gordon Hayward's jump shot. He stripped Hayward from behind to force a scramble for the loose ball which led to Garrett Temple taking a charge from Derrick Favors. 

"We did a great job of setting our pressure defensively," Beal said. "We were getting beat on the boards but our defense helped us out a lot."

Marcin Gortat (22 points, 10 rebounds) was engaged and contesting shots from Favors early to force misses. He came over to close down a drive by Hayward at the basket for a block then ran to the other end for dunk. Nene (16 points) was physical with Favors and Rudy Gobert in the paint.

Just as important, Nene's team defense was on point, too. Realizing that Hayward was cutting to the basket and had a step on Temple, Nene took a step back from Gobert, who has no offensive game away from the basket. He was standing at the foul line, and Nene's proper read took away the passing angle for an entry pass. It was basic basketball of knowing the personnel and what to give vs. what to deny.

"We took away what they wanted," said Jared Dudley, who came off the bench while Nene started to match up with Utah's size in the post. "I thought Nene was great setting the tone out there. ... Everything was clicking."

Dudley even had a blocked shot as the Wizards had 10, half coming from Gortat.

"We know they wanted to run with flow," Wall said, referring to Utah's preference to go away from a set offense. "Just moving the ball side to side and being able to get open. We knew that was key for them. We just did a great job of taking them out their rhythm and they started running plays that they probably haven't run all season."

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Scott Brooks, Ramon Sessions hoping for best with Tyronn Lue's health issues

USA Today Sports Images

Scott Brooks, Ramon Sessions hoping for best with Tyronn Lue's health issues

As a fellow NBA head coach, Scott Brooks understands what Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliers is going through. As his former teammate, Ramon Sessions knows how tough Lue is.

Both members of the Wizards shared their reactions after Monday's practice to the news Lue is stepping away from the Cavs to deal with a health issue. Both expressed hope Lue will not be out long as the NBA continues its trek towards the playoffs.

"All of our thoughts are with him," Brooks said. "You hope that it's nothing serious. Health is the most important [thing]. The game is secondary."


"Prayers out to T-Lue," said Sessions, who played with Lue in Milwaukee. "It's one of those things where you've gotta take care of yourself at the end of the day. Him stepping away is the best thing."

Lue's illness has been a mystery to doctors, according to a statement he released on the Cavaliers' website. He has dealt with chest pains and other symptoms while also struggling to sleep. The hope is that having time off will allow him to get the rest he needs.


Brooks knows firsthand how difficult it is to get sleep during the regular season as a coach.

"You just have to figure out ways to get your rest. Some days are better than others. Sometimes you think after a good win you can have a good night's rest or sometimes it's the opposite. It's just hard to get rest. You're traveling in different timezones. You are emotional after games. You eat late. There are a lot of factors that go into it. We don't have a set schedule every night. I have a good staff and I rely on them," he said.

Lue, 40, will be replaced by associate head coach Larry Drew in the interim. The Cavs happen to be in a tight playoff race with the Wizards and other teams in the Eastern Conference battling for position.

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Phil Chenier tells stories ahead of his jersey retirement

Associated Press

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Phil Chenier tells stories ahead of his jersey retirement

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, host Chase Hughes was joined by Bullets/Wizards legend Phil Chenier ahead of his jersey retirement set for this upcoming weekend on March 23.

Chenier looked back on his playing and broadcasting career and told great stories. He also shared some memories of the 1978 championship as the franchise gets ready to honor its 40th anniversary.

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!