Wizards

Quick Links

Internal matters force Wizards to call players-only meeting

usatsi_9083005.jpg

Internal matters force Wizards to call players-only meeting

The doors slammed shut in the Wizards' locker room Thursday, after they lost for the third consecutive time. For the second time in three years, a players-only meeting was required and it seems fitting that their next game is against the Houston Rockets.

It was Trevor Ariza, who left as a free agent for Houston two seasons ago, initiating a closed-door pow wow following a 2-7 start. At that time, there were personal issues between teammates that had to be worked out. This one, after a 117-113 to the Denver Nuggets, was about a team that's 20-24 and on the verge of being home in the postseason for the first time since a 29-win season in 2012-13.

"The flow has been terrible for us these last couple games. That's something that players and coaches have to do a better job," said Jared Dudley, who called himself the team spokesman because he faces the music every time the Wizards play badly. "At times it's good to play Nene and (Marcin) Gortat together. ... What team are we trying to be here? We can't keep coming into this locker room talking about inconsistency because April 15 (when the regular-season ends) we'll all be back at the crib."

Thursday, it wasn't a good start for the Wizards going with their big lineup. They fell behind quickly 10-2 and eventually trailed by 18 in the third quarter. Gortat didn't play at all in the fourth quarter when they made a comeback to tie the score at 99 on a three-point play by Ramon Sessions. 

The Wizards are 1-3 with Nene and Gortat starting the last four games while Dudley, who had been the starter at power forward, coming off the bench.

They've given up 106 points in a loss to the Toronto Raptors, 108 to the Portland Trail Blazers and 116 and 119 to the Boston Celtics. All, of course, are losses, too.

"Everybody can make excuses about us being injured but we have a lot of guys that step up and play big roles," point guard John Wall said. "You got to go out there and compete and do it on the defensive end."

Bradley Beal didn't want to reveal any details about what was said in the meeting, but Garrett Temple didn't hesitate to bring up the obvious.

"That's exactly why. We're not playing defense the way we're capable of. We have to fix it before it's too late," said Temple who had 20 or more points for the fifth time this season in place of Beal while he's on a minutes restriction. "In a few games come All-Star break, if we continue to play like we're going to play then it's going to be too late. We had a little closed-door discussion as a team as players. Hopefully it changes things."

Six players from that initial players meeting remain: Wall, Temple, Beal, Nene, Gortat and Otto Porter.

"Totally different team. It's different things that we talked about," Temple said. "Maybe one or two things that were similar that were brought up. The main point, the main focus was a little different than the one two years ago."

It's clear that Dudley is starting to become agitated by the slow starts and abrupt stops whenever they gain momentum. The Wizards, a team he was happy to join when he was acquired in a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks, should be in the mix for a top four seeding. That means home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs instead of the two No. 5 seeds.

MORE WIZARDS: FIVE TAKEAWAYS FROM LOSS TO NUGGETS

The Wizards made their run with Dudley on the floor all 12 minutes of the fourth. The same goes for Temple and Nene. Combined, they shot 7 of 11 in a 34-point quarter.

"We're trying to find ourselves. We're doing it through games. We're struggling with that. I keep hearing, 'What's our identity?' so basically our identity is to space the floor, put the pressure on," Dudley said. "We're a three-point shooting team that can go into Nene and we have to be aggressive defensively. Those are our strengths. I don't care what lineup is out there. That for this team going forward.

"When it comes to basketball IQ and knowing stuff like that it's apparent that's when we're at our most successful. Defensively, we got to start holding each other accountable. That starts with me helping these guys out where defensively someone's not getting up into them, if it's John, if it's Sessions it starts with the point guards. Bigs talking, Nene, Gortat myself have to do a better job holding each other accountable. Players are going to have to hold each other accountable during the games more to be able to get under guys. That's something I'll do a better job of going forward."

It should be no surprise that when Temple, Nene and Dudley are on the floor the Wizards are at their best on both ends. Per 100 possessions on offense and defense, they are the only three players coming into Thursday that had a positive rating. 

"No matter what scheme you put out there, if guys don't go out and execute the scheme, don't compete defensively, defense is all about heart," said Temple, their best one-on-one defender. "You don't have to be the quickest. You don't have to be the strongest. You just have to have heart and that comes with defending the possession and rebounding.

"All that is heart. No scheme can keep a guy offensive glass. You got to box him out and rebound. No schemes can keep a guy from one-on-one, getting in the paint for a layup. That's not a scheme. That's one-on-one defense and we've got to take pride. We've got to guard people."

Quick Links

Bradley Beal eliminated in first round of three-point contest, Donovan Mitchell wins dunk contest

Bradley Beal eliminated in first round of three-point contest, Donovan Mitchell wins dunk contest

It was a short night for Wizards guard Bradley Beal in the 2018 All-Star three-point contest on Saturday, as he was eliminated in the first round.

Wearing the Wizards' new 'The District' white alternate jersey, Beal shot a 15 and fell short of the top three spots to qualify for the second round. Suns guard Devin Booker won the contest with a 28 score in the final, beating out Klay Thompson of the Warriors and Tobias Harris of the Clippers.

RELATED: BEST WIZARDS/BULLETS MOMENTS ON ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

Beal's was undone by a slow start. He missed all five shots on the first rack and made just one on the second. He began to heat up at the third rack, but by then couldn't recover.

Here is Beal's full round:

This was Beal's second showing in the three-point contest. He finished second back in 2014 and this year said he was motivated to avenge that loss. He should have plenty more opportunities to participate in the future if he chooses.

The NBA's All-Star Saturday night began with Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie winning the skills competition. He beat Bulls big man Lauri Markkanen in the final round.

Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell won the dunk contest. He edged Larry Nance, Jr. of the Cavaliers in the finals.

RELATED: LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT

Quick Links

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:

2018 NBA ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

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

PODCAST: ALL-STAR WEEKEND PREVIEW, WIZARDS AT THE BREAK 

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.

RELATED: BETTING ODDS FOR DUNK CONTEST, THREE-POINT CONTEST

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.

RELATED: WIZARDS/BULLETS HISTORY ON ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

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.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS