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Karl on Wizards: 'My gut says don't overreact' to shaky start


Karl on Wizards: 'My gut says don't overreact' to shaky start

Ever the optimist, Sacramento Kings coach George Karl was somewhat prophetic when asked about the Wizards' ominous start to the season.

"They're just struggling right now. I don't know if it's injuries, I don't know if it's personality, whatever it is. And the East has gotten to be a more difficult schedule," he said before tip-off Monday. "My gut says don't overreact to the first 25 games of the season. The season is long. There's injuries, there's trades, there's teams growing up, maturing. It might take 30 or 40 games before a team comes together just as long as they have a pedigree of the last couple years of pretty damn good basketball. My gut says trust them and they'll figure it out."

The Wizards (12-14), despite having just a seven-man rotation after Gary Neal was a late scratch because of lower back pain, broken open an 84-84 score to start with the fourth quarter and never looked back. John Wall, who set a career-high with 19 assists, didn't even have to score there as Garrett Temple led the way with 10 of his career-high 23 points and Marcin Gortat had season-highs of 27 points and 16 rebounds.

How long can this last is anyone's guess. Until the Wizards are able to string together victories and show they're now consistent in a good way, it's better to hold off judgment. After all, this is the first time they've won back-to-back games since Nov. 21. Coach Randy Wittman tightened his rotation to eight in Saturday's 109-101 win vs. the Charlotte Hornets and went with one fewer Monday.

"The East is so much better. You can't get to far behind," said Jared Dudley, who followed up season highs of 19 points and nine rebounds vs. Charlotte with 13 points against Sacramento, including a crucial three-pointer to begin the fourth. "For us having three winnable home games it's tough to get back.

"It's defensively if we can get stops. We've shown we can do it. The question is can you mentally sustain it 48 minutes for all these different games playing this amount of minutes."

Temple logged a season-high 42 minutes, Dudley played 41 to tie a season high for the second game in a row (he reached that limit once in all of last season), Wall 39, Marcin Gortat 37, Ramon Sessions a season-high 31 and rookie Kelly Oubre in his second start went a career-high 33.

"I personally don't feel fatigued at all. I'm ready to play 48 minutes," Gortat said. "I was excited, I had a lot of fun and I was committed to win this game."

The Wizards (12-14) haven't changed their pace-and-space style. They're just moving the ball better, getting open looks and are more committed to defense despite being short on players. They're averaging 111 points in the two wins and giving up 100.

"It shows how much we've worked in the beginning of the season and in training camp to get in shape to keep this pace," Temple said. "I honestly didn't feel tired except maybe one or two times and that was in the first half. That's a credit to Witt being able to get guy in and out. 

"I think we're getting to that point of when to run, how much running will help us even on makes. We got a couple of runs with Marcin running after makes. He's under the basket, outrunning the whole team getting to the (other) basket and getting layups. We held one of the top scoring teams to 99 points with seven guys. That's honestly unheard of to keep the pace that we did, score 113, keep them to 99 and it wasn't a walk-up team. It's a team that likes to run. ... It's a process to get in shape and understand what we have to do defensively  and offensively. I think we're trying to turn that corner."

The identity still is that of a blue-collar, grindhouse style but with more tempo offensively. They just haven't played with that sort of grit consistently. A win at home vs. the Memphis Grizzlies could determine if this team finally has figured things out of if this is just another false alarm (CSN, CSNmidatlantic.com and NBC Sports Live Extra, 6:30 ET).

“Hopefully this can bleed onto other guys that are out watching," Wittman said. "As I told them before Saturday, before (Monday night's game) and after the game who knows we might be down to eight or seven guys on Wednesday. Whoever those eight, nine, seven guys are they’ll do enough if we come and lay it on the line. That’s been proven the last two nights. We didn’t play perfect but we didn’t let any of our mistakes (linger). You couldn’t tell with our energy level and effort."

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Wizards host students from Stoneman Douglas High School ahead of 'March For Our Lives'

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Wizards host students from Stoneman Douglas High School ahead of 'March For Our Lives'

With a march on Washington planned for this weekend following the mass shooting in Parkland, FL, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were invited by the Wizards to attend their Friday morning practice at Capital One Arena.

About 20 of the kids showed up to watch the Wizards practice, took pictures with players, got a tour of the facilities and walked away with Wizards hats and gear. It was a small break away from what has been a tumultous time ever since the massacre at their school on Feb. 14.

Wizards majority owner Ted Leonsis was on hand to speak with the students, who are set to lead the 'March For Our Lives' through downtown Washington on Saturday.


Wizards guard Bradley Beal met with the media after taking photos with the students.

"For us to be able to take their mind off of it for just a few minutes is always a great feeling," Beal said. "At the end of the day, we're all human beings regardless of our careers are and what our jobs are. A lot of us have families, kids, brothers and sisters. The last thing that you want to happen is what happened to several of those families. You can never imagine."

Beal went to college in Florida and has participated in his own forms of activism. He has found inspiration in the efforts by Stoneman Douglas students. They have taken what happened to their school as a catalyst for what they hope produces change in the ability to protect similar attacks from happening again.


Beal, 24, finds that admirable.

"It's amazing sometimes to learn from the youth on how to do things," Beal said. "It's a testament to where our world needs to lead to, to where we need to get to and to come together as a society. It starts with us as the younger generation. We've gotta come together with love and do things like this. I think what they're doing is awesome. It's spreading positive vibes and it's true humanitarian work that they're doing."

The Stoneman Douglas students are expected to attend Friday night's Wizards-Nuggets game as well.

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Bradley Beal sees Phil Chenier's jersey retirement as something to strive for

Bradley Beal sees Phil Chenier's jersey retirement as something to strive for

The relationship between Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal and Bullets legend Phil Chenier goes beyond your average friendship between a current and former player, or a current player and team broadcaster.

Beal and Chenier are close to the point Chenier often offers advice as a fellow shooting guard who helped lead the organization to some of their most important accomplishments.

Beal is always open ears when Chenier is talking and took great honor in being the one to tell Chenier personally that his jersey would be retired by the Wizards.

The day has come for Chenier's No. 45 to be raised to the rafters and Beal feels a unique sense of pride in seeing a man he reveres to the highest degree finally have his day in the sun.

"It's unbelievable. It's more than deserving," Beal said. "I was happy to be the one who told him about it. It's a special night for him. He's been a mentor to a lot of us for many years."


Chenier was a three-time All-Star for the Washington Bullets back in the 1970s. Following his playing career, he became a legendary broadcaster calling Bullets and then Wizards games for over 30 years.

Beal is now an NBA All-Star himself, having earned the honor for the first time this season. He is a shooting guard, just like Chenier.

Chenier was the color analyst for Wizards games for the first five years of Beal's career and Beal has always seen Chenier as a model to follow both on and off the court.

"It's always motivation for me to get better and I feel like this is the final touch of it, having your jersey retired by the franchise that you played a part in their success," Beal said.


The honor Chenier is about to receive is another goal to strive for. Beal wants to achieve a lot of what Chenier has accomplished in his life from winning a championship to making All-NBA to now having his jersey hang in the rafters at Capital One Arena.

"It definitely motivates me for that to be a goal of mine. Especially with the fact we both play the same position," Beal said.


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For more on Chenier's jersey retirement, check out our in-depth interview with him on the Wizards Tipoff podcast: