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Film study: Is Brooks correct about shared blame in Wizards' last loss?

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Film study: Is Brooks correct about shared blame in Wizards' last loss?

Earlier today, I broke down the various issues the Wizards are having on both ends of the floor.

These are examples from the 114-106 loss to the Houston Rockets, and if they persist the Boston Celtics will have similar success tonight (CSN, 6:30 p.m. ET). 

The Celtics play the ultimate team basketball and won all four meetings last season. Blown coverages on the perimeter and switches on Isaiah Thomas will spell trouble.

Even though Al Horford (concussion) is out, coach Brad Stevens has the Wizards' number.

The Wizards had a chance to get off to a big lead in the first half and didn't so they ended up trailing by halftime.

And they had a chance to pull this game out late but had a long drought as the Rockets pulled away.

Is coach Scott Brooks correct that it's a team-wide problem -- not a first unit or second unit problem? Fact or fiction:


1st quarter

6:20-6:06: The pick-and-roll (Ryan Anderson for James Harden) goes swimmingly because Markieff Morris doesn't jam his man to disrupt him off the slip, or what's called a long-arm or contact show.  He trails the play and Harden, defended well by Bradley Beal even though he gets deep, makes the easy dish inside for the layup. Granted, Anderson pops more often than dives to the basket. It wouldn't have been a bad idea for Marcin Gortat to stunt towards Anderson to make Harden second-guess himself in the air, and get back to Clint Capela to put a body on him. Also from Morris' position, he would've been better off doubling Harden up high to make him pick up his dribble to keep the ball out the middle and hope to recover to Anderson if successful. 

2:10-2:00: Gortat comes up too high on this screen-roll between Harden and Nene. His only job here is containment and to hold up Harden until Beal can recover to get in front. But instead Harden splits, getes into the prime position (middle of lane) with lots of options. The pass here to Eric Gordon spotting up for the corner three is so simple and easy it shouldn't count as an assist.

1:28-0:33.7: The running of this screen-roll between Gortat-Marcus Thornton doesn't work. First, the spacing is off. There's no great angle to throw the ball into the post but Gortat ends up with Gordon defending him on a switch for few seconds of this possession and never touches the ball again. Beal holds it and can't make up his mind whether or not to attack Sam Dekker's feet off the dribble and the result is Kelly Oubre being put in a tough position to force a contested three with the shot clock running down. When they get the next possession, Thornton brings up the ball and takes a hasty, first-side shot. No one is in position to rebound. No one else touches the ball. After Houston loses it again with Harden turning it over, Beal does to Dekker what he should've done the first time -- attack his feet off the dribble. The result is a layup.

2nd quarter

10:00-9:48: This is not how to run the pick-and-roll. The spacing between Smith and Thornton is out of whack so much so they almost trip over one another. Thornton makes a curous choice to try to split the double team and go at Nene who has two defenders in support behind him. The likelihood of Thornton finishing is slim to none. Smith isn't a good enough shooter from the arc to force the defense to respect him popping for a three. This is why, as you'll see in many examples involving Houston, having a three-point shooter (Anderson) works better. It spaces the floor. The result is Tomas Satoransky having to take a difficult runner to beat the shot clock that just misses. Not ideal.

4th quarter

8:28-8:08: Morris helps Satoransky on this Anderson-Hardon screen roll by opening up his man by pulling him level. That allows Satoransky to stay with his man and no switch as he get through the screen. The whistle was on Harden for a palming violation. But Satornasky follows it up with a turnover. Smith isn’t known for catching the ball off the roll and finishing in traffic. Satoransky is better off taking the shot and leaving Smith to get position to clean up if there’s a miss.

7:56-7:37: Thornton waits too long to feed Morris in the mid-post. First, Morris is bigger than Harden and Harden is vulnerable defensively. The moment Harden turns his back to the ball and Morris is facing Thornton, the lob over the top of Harden as he tries to establish position should’ve be thrown. Look behind Morris. Thornton, however, waits rather than making that quick touch pass over the top towards the baseline. Harden, who is physically strong, is able to get in position and then push Morris off his spot to take away the advantage. Capela recognizes and comes over to help and it ends in an empty possession because the  Wizards waited too long in the shot clock.

6:37-6:27: Harden gets the screen from Anderson. Morris gets in too deep, doesn’t slow Harden and he gets a straight-line drive to the basket on Smith. Naturally the entire defense has to collapse which leaves Trevor Ariza spotting in the short corner for his specialty shot.

5:35-5:07: Anderson and Nene stack the screen for Gordon to come out of the corner on a loop, but the most dangerous player among these three isn’t Gordon. That’s outside of Nene’s range and he’s only a threat to slip to the basket. But Nene sets an inside screen for the screener – Anderson – as he pops for a wide-open three-pointer. Otto Porter can’t get back. In the most dangerous offenses, the screener is the most dangerous player because usually he can shoot threes. The Wizards follow this up by running a similar set where Morris screens and rescreens for Beal as Wall gets trapped in the paint. But their spacing isn’t correct and Ariza can defend Morris and Beal simultaneously to challenge their shots. The result is just blind pass, steal and a layup for Harden.

4:47-4:33: This is the right way to cover on that screen and roll by Gortat. He takes Anderson in a switch as Porter gets stuck on Nene’s off-ball screen. Anderson then comes over to screen Wall off Harden but look at Gortat’s positioning. He spreads his base wide to push the ball backwards a step -- a contact show -- staying connected to Anderson and tagging Harden to give Wall time to recover to the ball. And when the ball reversed to Anderson, Gortat is in position to contest and force the missed three.  

3:55- 3:48: This is how you defend the pick-and-roll. Nene, a former Wizards forward/center, keeps his body on Gortat after he slips the screen and is able to challenge Wall at the rim with his 7-foot frame to force the missed layup. At the end of games, this is a tendency that the Wizards have to not move the ball. Only one person touches it and takes the shot. If it’s transition and there’s an opening that’s one thing but when the defense is set and able to load to the ball it doesn’t work as well.

2:42-2:35: This screen-roll by Harden-Nene shouldn’t be as effective as Harden-Anderson this far from the basket for one reason – Nene can’t shoot threes. Gortat had to play him for the drive on this one, sagging back to hold him up for Wall to recover and force the pass back to the Brazliian 20-plus feet from the basket. But Gortat comes up and flattens out way too high. He’s not going to be able to move laterally quick enough to prevent Harden from splitting and turning the corner for an easy bucket at the rim.

1:58-1:47: Again, this is how the Wizards needed to defend the Harden-Anderson screen-roll action all along. Morris gets into the ball to slow Harden, Wall recovers behind him and Morris recovers to his man. If by chance he’s not able to in time, Beal is lurking near the elbow to force the extra pass and it would be incumbent on Gortat to help the helper by sprinting over to stop Ariza’s catch-and-shoot. But the result of playing this correctly forces a shot late in the clock from beyond even Harden’s range.

1:34-1:27: This was the backbreaker. The Wizards had just missed two foul shots and then leave Anderson uncovered for a three. The screener (Anderson) picks Wall off of Harden and Morris stays glued on the switch. Wall tries to get back to Harden and leaves Anderson naked. It’s either a wide-open three for him or Porter leaves Ariza who’d get the high-percentage look from the short corner. It was too late (and the spacing too great between Harden and Anderson) for Wall to switch back onto his man.

Most of these examples involve starters. Though the reserves had a hand in what went wrong, they played well overall and were far more efficient. Though Brooks is prone to coachspeak and has taken the blame for the porous play from his bench all season, he's correct about the loss to Houston. There was enough blame to go around, but this one was mostly on the starters who are too experienced to repeatedly make these kind of mistakes. 


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2018 NBA All-Star Saturday night: TV and live stream info, things to watch for dunk contest, three-point contest

2018 NBA All-Star Saturday night: TV and live stream info, things to watch for dunk contest, three-point contest

The 2018 NBA All-Star Saturday Night is here with the three-point contest, dunk contest and skills competition set for Los Angeles.

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


Where: Staples Center
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
Online with no cable TV: fuboTV (try for free)


Skills competition

Participants: Lou Williams, Clippers; Jamal Murray, Nuggets; Al Horford, Celtics; Spencer Dinwiddie, Nets; Joel Embiid, Sixers; Buddy Hield, Kings; Lauri Markkanen, Bulls; Andre Drummond, Pistons

What to know: This year's crop has a fascinating mix of guards and big men and don't sleep on the seven-footers. Embiid in particular has a unique skillset for his size. Still, it's tough to beat the guards. Watch out for Dinwiddie, who is the best passer of the bunch.


Three-point contest

Participants: Klay Thompson, Warriors; Eric Gordon, Rockets; Devin Booker, Suns; Paul George, Thunder; Wayne Ellington, Heat; Bradley Beal, Wizards; Kyle Lowry, Raptors; Tobias Harris, Clippers

What to know: Thompson and Gordon enter the contest as past champions, as Thompson won it in 2016 and Gordon took it home last year. Thompson has the best three-point percentage among the group and is the favorite, but watch out for Beal, a past runner-up, and George who has the second best percentage. Also, Booker is one of the game's best young players and has a very smooth stroke from three.


Dunk contest

Participants: Dennis Smith Jr.; Mavericks; Donovan Mitchell, Jazz; Larry Nance Jr., Cavaliers; Victor Oladipo, Pacers

What to know: This is all about the rookies, Smith and Mitchell, who most are predicting to win. Oladipo has been in the contest before, but didn't win. He's also the only All-Star of the bunch. Nance is the only guy who isn't a guard and his father won it back in 1984. It will be interesting to see if he does some sort of nod to his old man, now 34 years later.


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Looking back at the most memorable Wizards/Bullets moments on All-Star Saturday Night

Looking back at the most memorable Wizards/Bullets moments on All-Star Saturday Night

With Bradley Beal set for the three-point contest at the 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend, let's take a look back at some of the most memorable moments for Wizards and Bullets players on All-Star Saturday night.

The franchise can boast past winners of the three-point and dunk contest, but there have also been some crushing defeats.



John Wall has accomplished a lot in his career and that includes a dunk contest title back in 2014, the only dunk contest won by a Wizards or Bullets player. Wall took home the crown amid a crowded field of participants, the last dunk contest that featured six players: Paul George, Damian Lillard, Harrison Barnes, Ben McLemore and Terrence Ross. Ross was the defending champion. 

Wall dropped the mic with a dunk over former Wizards mascot 'G-Man.' After the dunk, he famously did the Nae Nae dance with George.


On Saturday night, Beal will do his best to avenge the loss he took in his first stab at the three-point contest. Beal fell just short in a stacked group that included former winners Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

The winner was Marco Belinelli, who needed a bonus round to finish it off. That was because Beal hit his final six shots in the last round to force an overtime round. It was one of the closest three-point contests ever.



The Wizards do have one three-point contest winner, Tim Legler who captured the crown in 1996. Many may know Legler for his broadcasting career, but he was a very good shooter in 10 NBA seasons, four of which were in Washington. 

Legler beat out some of the best sharpshooters of the 90s including Dennis Scott, Steve Kerr, Glen Rice and Hubert Davis. Legler tried to defend his crown the following year, but lost out to Kerr.



Wall was the only Wizards player to win the dunk contest, but an argument could be made that JaVale McGee should have won it back in 2011. That was the year Blake Griffin won the title by jumping over a car. Griffin jumped over the hood, which many said wasn't exactly the same as jumping over the highest point of the car. I, who have approximately an 11-inch vertical leap, thought it was a bunch of malarkey.

That's not why McGee was robbed, though. He was robbed because Serge Ibaka appeared to steal his dunk. Video surfaced ahead of the contest of McGee practicing a dunk where he did a windmill slam while grabbing a piece of paper from the net with his mouth. Ibaka then did a very similar dunk in the contest itself. McGee admitted in an interview during the contest that Ibaka did the same dunk, so he had to switch it up. Who knows what would have happened if McGee did it instead of Ibaka. McGee, however, still put on a show including one slam where he dunked two basketballs.



Gilbert Arenas had a tough run in the three-point contest, as he finished as the runner-up in back-to-back years, 2006 and 2007. He lost to Dirk Nowitzki in 2006 and Jason Kapono in 2007.

It was in 2007, though, that Arenas wore the Wizards' gold alternate jersey (they were awesome, don't let anyone tell you differently) and finished the final round shooting threes one-handed once he realized he had lost. Arenas was one of the best personalities in the NBA at the time and that was on full display.