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Hollins likely starter at center, Dudley could sub when Wizards go small


Hollins likely starter at center, Dudley could sub when Wizards go small

Because of the opponent and out of necessity, the Wizards likely will resort to more small lineups than usual tonight against the Phoenix Suns though 7-footer Ryan Hollins, who joined them earlier in the week, expects to get his first start (CSN, CSNmidatlantic.com and NBC Sports Live Extra, 6:30 p.m.).

Hollins was signed Monday after the Wizards (7-9) waived Martell Webster. Nene (left calf) is out, Drew Gooden (left calf) didn't shoot around with them this morning and starting center Marcin Gortat (personal leave) returned to Poland to be with his hospitalized mother after Wednesday's loss to the L.A. Lakers. Kris Humphries (ankle) didn't shoot around this morning and is questionable to play. 

"I've been everywhere in this league from a starter to a guy off the bench to first man, last man, five minutes, two minutes," said Hollins, who played 11 minutes but didn't score against the Lakers. "That last game was good because I've been working my butt off. There's no way you can simulate game minutes."

Hollins is familiar with John Wall, who spends offseasons in the Los Angeles area. That's where Hollins is from.

"In the NBA we all essentially run the same sets and it's just learning the concepts," Hollins said. "Once you learn your concepts, you learn your teammates you get chemistry. It's easy. Me and John, we play together just about every summer in the offseason. I'm really familiar with his game already. ... Ten years in, you can pick up plays pretty quick."

The Wizards, however, will be facing a team in Phoenix (8-11) that has been problematic in the past because of guard play and their high volume of pick-and-rolls. Starting center Tyson Chandler (hamstring) is out and Alex Len is expected to get the start. Markieff Morris (knee) went through shootaround but is questionable. 

That's where Jared Dudley, who played the five spot in a 97-85 win on Tuesday at the Cleveland Cavaliers, comes in. The Suns could go small even more often.

"I expect to play everything," said Dudley, who has played a season-high 32 minutes in the last two games. "To be able to play 40-plus (minutes), we only got three bigs so for me, a lot of guards, a lot of pick-and-rolls, my value being up in the picks. ... We're all going to play depending on how well you play you can play more. If those guys get into foul trouble I might not have no choice. It could be one of those games where you play 45. You just don't know. The good thing is they're small, too."

The Wizards successfully went to a lineup of Wall, Bradley Beal, Garrett Temple, Otto Porter and Dudley twice in that game. The first time, it was for 2:34 of the second quarter when they expanded a three-point lead to 10. The next time came in the fourth quarter, with LeBron James on the floor, and coach Randy Wittman stuck with it for nine minutes because of foul trouble to Gortat. The Wizards stretched a 14-point lead to 19.

Porter is the tallest of the bunch at 6-8, but they have a lot of length with Temple at 6-6 and Dudley 6-7. They also can call on rookie Kelly Oubre, who is 6-7 and has a 7-2 wingspan. When they swallowed up Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson in Cleveland, they fronted the post and doubled from the weak side on the entry pass. If the ball went back out to the perimeter, they're athletic and long enough to recover to the shooters. It caused havoc, missed shots and allowed them to get out in transition.

"This is a perfect game if you're going to be hurt," Dudley said.

MORE WIZARDS: Wizards scramble to plug gaps to challenge Suns

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Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

As if they needed a reminder, the Wizards saw firsthand on Wednesday night just how much can change in a short period of time in the Eastern Conference playoff race where just two games separate the No. 3 and No. 6 teams.

That No. 6 team is now your Washington Wizards, who began the day in fourth place but lost their first game in four days on the same night both the Cavs and Sixers won theirs. 

The Wizards lost to the Spurs on Wednesday and managed only 90 points, their fewest since Jan. 22. It was a lackluster performance in a game the Wizards needed to treat with urgency. 


The Spurs sure did.

"We've gotta have a better mentality coming into games," guard Bradley Beal said. "The Spurs were fighting for playoff seeding just like we were."

The Wizards have now lost six of their last 10, yet all those games have come against teams currently holding playoff spots. Considering John Wall reamins out with a left knee injury, it's hard to fault them too much when they are staying afloat just fine in the big picture.

The problem is that the closer they get to the end of the season, the more these losses are magnified. They amount to missed opportunities, some bigger than others.

That was not lost on Beal, who considered the alternative. If the Wizards had beaten the Spurs, they would be sitting in fourth, two spots higher, and just a game-and-a-half out of third.

"Every time we have a chance to move up, we take two steps back," Beal lamented.


The Wizards are in a high stakes part of the standings where plenty is in the balance. They are fighting for home court advantage, something they would get in the third or fourth spots. And who they match up with will be paramount.

By falling to sixth, the Wizards are currently in line to play the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though the Pacers and Sixers are also good teams, they don't have LeBron James. Avoiding him and the Cavs would be ideal for the Wizards.

Beal has even bigger worries than that. He noted after the loss in San Antonio that they could fall even further if they aren't careful. They are now just a game-and-a-half up on the seventh-place Heat. 

"We've gotta realize what's at stake, man. The way we're going, we could keep dropping and mess around and be eighth. We've gotta do whatever it takes to win," he said.

The Wizards should be fine, if the previous two months are any indication. But Wednesday night was another example of how precarious things are for them this season in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference.


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Wizards blown out by Spurs, as streak of losses in San Antonio since 1999 continues

Wizards blown out by Spurs, as streak of losses in San Antonio since 1999 continues

The Washington Wizards lost to the San Antonio Spurs 98-90 on Wednesday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Streak continues: Many will tell you that San Antonio, TX is a wonderful city rife with history, good restaurants and warm weather. Please excuse the Washington Wizards if they hate the place.

They lost to the Spurs in a blowout on Wednesday and remain winless in San Antonio going all the way back to 1999. It was their 18th straight loss when playing at the Spurs.

The Spurs win games with their defense and this one was no exception. The Wizards scored their fewest points since Jan. 22, nearly two months, and shot just 42.7 percent. The Spurs hold opponents to the lowest points per game in the NBA (99.0) and the Wizards fell into all of their traps.

Bradley Beal was the only one immune to it. He had 21 points on 9-for-13 shooting. The rest of the Wizards shot just 26-for-69 (37.7%).

Losing in San Antonio has come to be expected for the Wizards, but they picked a bad night to drop a game. The Cavaliers and Sixers both won. Philly winning means more because they passed the Wizards in the East and currently sit fourth while the Wizards are in the sixth spot. 

If the playoffs began with those seeds, the Wizards would see the Cavaliers in the first round. Even though the Cavs aren't what they were a year ago, that should be avoided if possible.


Hustle plays: The Spurs also beat the Wizards at the minor details of the game, something they have long been good at under head coach Gregg Popovich. They got the loose balls and offensive rebounds at key moments to either sustain or steal momentum away from Washington.

In the first half, 40-year-old Manu Ginobli dove on the ground to beat Ramon Sessions to a loose ball and it led to two points by Pau Gasol. In the third quarter, Patty Mills flipped around quickly to steal an outlet pass from Marcin Gortat that led to free throws. And in the third there was one play when the Spurs got three offensive rebounds and ultimately got to the free throw line again.

The Spurs out-rebounded the Wizards 43-34 overall and outdid them in offensive rebounds 12-8. They just wanted it more on this particular night.


Oubre stood out: The Spurs' defense got the best of most players on the Wizards, but Kelly Oubre, Jr. was an exception. The third-year pro has been struggling with his shot in recent weeks, so in this one he stuck to high percentage looks, at least early. He had 10 points in his first nine minutes on 5-for-7 shooting, many of those attempts right around the rim.

Oubre attacked the lane dribbling both to his left and his right. He finished with floaters, tough layups and on one fastbreak with a thunderous left-handed slam:

Oubre ended up with 21 points, six rebounds, two steals and two blocks. He shot 9-for-17 from the field and 3-for-6 from three.

Oubre has continued to make an impact defensively, even when his shot is not falling. But he has to get more creative some nights to affect games when he isn't hitting from long range. Wednesday was a good example of how he can use his athleticism to take matters into his own hands.

It is a tricky balance, however, because sometimes his aggression can lead to mistakes. That certainly happened at times even in this game, as he had two turnovers. But when Oubre can contain his explosiveness, he can make a big difference.


Under the weather: Already without Wall, the Wizards had to shorten their rotation by two players against the Spurs as both Jodie Meeks and Mike Scott were out due to flu-like symptoms. In Meeks and Scott, the Wizards were missing two key pieces on their bench.

Instead of giving Tim Frazier and Jason Smith a rare and extended opportunity, head coach Scott Brooks instead chose to tighted things up. He relied heavily on the starters until the game was out of hand.

Brooks also got experimental, playing Tomas Satoransky (zero points, 0-for-7 FG) and Sessions together in the second quarter with Oubre and Otto Porter (12 points, seven rebounds) as the forwards. In the fourth quarter, we saw a lineup with three point guards: Sessions, Frazier and Satoransky.

The fact the Wizards had three days off before this game helped allow Brooks to rely on his starters early. It was also an opportunity for Brooks to see what life will be like when Wall returns. There is a chance Satoransky could see more time off the ball. This gave him another glimpse of how he can use Satoransky in more creative ways once the minutes at point guard go down significantly.


Up next: The Wizards are off Thursday before returning home to host the Denver Nuggets on Friday with a 7 p.m. tipoff on NBC Sports Washington. That will be a special night at Capital One Arena as the Wizards retire Phil Chenier's No. 45 jersey. 

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