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Morning tip: Is it time for Wizards to play slower or just smarter?

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Morning tip: Is it time for Wizards to play slower or just smarter?

An advocate of the fast-pace style of the Wizards, center Marcin Gortat already is having second thoughts as they're on a two-game losing streak in which they've totaled 50 turnovers.

"We ain't going to win games like that," Gortat said Monday, before Tuesday's game vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder at Verizon Center. "What I would say from my perspective is we have to slow down. We have to slightly slow down. ... There's the saying be quick, don't rush. We have to start playing a bit slower."

In the Wizards three losses this season, they've given up 117, 118 and 114 points. The common denominator in all of them is turnovers, which leads to easy, uncontested buckets for the opponent.

"In the half court, we are not a bad team (defensively). In transition, we got to get back. Transition defense for us is awful," said Gortat, who has seen a reduced role even though the Wizards have gone to one big in the paint which in theory is supposed to create more room for him to operate. "They're running. They're scoring easy points. When we get back we're actually a pretty good defense team. There's no need to raise panic."

Coach Randy Wittman echoed something similar. It's not that he wants his team to slow down but play with a better IQ.

"We try too many risky plays. He had 26 turnovers and 13 were unequivocally, even you guys would say, the defense had nothing to do with it. Thirteen of your 26 had nothing to do with what the defense did," Wittman said of Saturday's loss at the Atlanta Hawks. "We got to eliminate those. We got too many of those. Catching the ball standing out of bounds, running on the fast break with nobody around us. I don't think that's good defense that causes that turnover.  

"It's pretty simple. We averaging 23 turnovers in the three losses and we're averaging (16) turnovers in the three wins. Our defense was pretty good in Atlanta, when we made them play 5-on-5. It was too much 4-on-1, 3-on-2, 4-on-2 and good teams will take advantage of that."

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One of their most egregious errors came on an inbound play when John Wall, the Wizards' primary ball-handler, tried to get the ball in play but all four teammates ran away from him. He had to throw it up for grabs and the Hawks turned that into two quick points. It's a gaffe that's more fitting of the 29-win Wizards from three seasons ago and not an actual respectable playoff team.

"No. 1, John shouldn't be inbounding the ball. No. 2, our bigs were standing right there and they just turned around and ran so I don't want our point guard throwing the ball inbound to our five and four guy who aren't going to expect it anyway," Wittman said. "So John throws it to them, and (the Hawks) get a layup and then you say, 'Boy, your defense wasn't good.' Those are the plays I'm talking about. That makes your defense look bad."

It goes back to something that Wittman has complained about in previous years, when they used two bigs in the post with Gortat and Nene in the starting lineup. 

"We sometimes (think), 'What I'm going to do, I'm going to come off, usually this defender is going to suck in so I'm going to throw the ball to that spot.' That defender doesn't (suck) in and we still throw the ball and that's intercepted. I felt some of the passes we threw against Boston, a couple of their defenders needed helmets," said Wittman of their 24 turnovers on Friday. "We were hitting them in the head. That to me is predetermining what you're going to do. ... We could've seriously hurt some of the Celtics players with our passes.

"In this it's read and react and play. That's what basketball is. I'm not inventing anything in basketball here. Come on, it's basketball. This isn't an invention here of anything. If I came down and made every call you still have to read what the defense is going to do in that set play. ... I could make this the No. 1 defensive team in the league points allowed per game if I said, 'John, you're going to walk the ball up every time, we're going to use 24 seconds and we're going to try to win 80-78.'"

For his part, Wall isn't using the new offense as an excuse. It's basic lack of discipline. He had at least two of his seven giveaways from driving the baseline, expecting Bradley Beal to spot up in the corner and he stopped at a different spot on the arc. That took away Wall's passing angle. The result was a bad pass turnover that's not all his fault.

"I'm not blaming it on the new offense at all. We just got to get to our spaces," Wall said. "Even if we had the same offense we had in the past, it's just about knowing when to cut at the right time, knowing when to be in the right situation at the right time. It's not all on the offense. If it's simple basketball, when a guy drives baseline you supposed to be in the corner (to catch and shoot). A  guy leaves the corner, that's not the offense."

For Gortat, it's up to himself, Wall and Beal as the three cornerstones of the franchise.

"If we play better," he said, "the whole team is going to play better."

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Wizards' 122-105 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night...

1. This was a tough one for the Wizards. For the third time this season, they got beaten by the Hornets and for the second straight time it was in a blowout.

They still had their moments, though, including this alley-oop from Tomas Satoransky (11 points) to Markieff Morris (13 points, eight assists, six rebounds). It was the second alley-oop connection for those two in as many games:

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2. This was a play that encapsulated the Wizards' night. Jodie Meeks drew a flagrant foul on Michael Carter-Williams, but took a hard shot to the head:

3. Kelly Oubre, Jr. had a solid game with 11 points, including this big dunk:

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4. Speaking of Oubre, he helped the Wizards close the first half with a late surge. The real highlight was Bradley Beal stealing the ball and hitting a corner three at the buzzer:

5. Beal ended up with 33 points, six assists and six rebounds. Here's an and-1 he got to go down in the second half:

All in all, it was an ugly performance for the Wizards. To cheer you up, we'll leave you with this young fan who had a great time at Capital One Arena despite the result:

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Wizards suffer lopsided loss against Hornets, who have had their number this season

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USA Today Sports Images

Wizards suffer lopsided loss against Hornets, who have had their number this season

The Washington Wizards lost to the Charlotte Hornets 122-105 on Friday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Bad matchup: Despite their poor record, there is something about this Charlotte Hornets team that gives the Wizards trouble. The Wizards lost to the Hornets (26-33) for the third time in three tries this season on Friday night and, aside from a push in the third quarter, they were never really in it.

All in all, it was a dud of a game for the Wizards who were probably due for one. They had won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall got injured. They were also coming off a huge road win the night before in Cleveland, a game that started an hour later than usual.

It was a tough turnaround and the Wizards sure looked like it. It was evident in their defense and unforced errors. They did, however, have a decent shooting night. They shot 49.4 percent from the field 16-for-17 from the free throw line.

The Wizards' second unit didn't provide a lift outside of Kelly Oubre, Jr. (11 points). Mike Scott, one of their best bench options, was held scoreless.

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Ugly first half: The Wizards only trailed by 12 points at halftime, but that score was skewed by a five-point push in the final seconds. The Hornets dominated for much of the first two quarters and did so by hitting threes and forcing turnovers. Those mistakes dug the Wizards a hole they never recovered from.

The Wizards had 10 turnovers in the first half, the same amount they had in their entire game the night before. Limiting mistakes was a big reason they beat the Cavaliers, yet the script was flipped by Charlotte.

The Hornets capitalized with 23 points off those 10 first-half turnovers. The Wizards had 14 giveaways for the games that led to 28 total points. 

Charlotte was 7-for-11 from three at one point in the first half and finished 17-for-39 (43.6%) for the game. That is very uncharacteristic for the Wizards, who entered the night second in the NBA in opponents three-point percentage.

Again, though, the first half ended well as Oubre and Bradley Beal gave the Wizards a jolt in the final seconds:

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Bad defense: The Wizards have played some great defense in recent weeks, but they just didn't have it on Friday night. Most surprising were the guys that hurt them most.

Dwight Howard was limited to 11 points and six rebounds and Kemba Walker didn't score his first points until the final minute of the first half. But others like Frank Kaminsky (23 points), Marvin Williams (15 points) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14 points) got pretty much anything they wanted.

For Walker, it was a tale of two halves. He was held in check by Tomas Satoransky in the first half, but broke out in the third quarter and finished with 24 points and seven rebounds. Maybe it was tired legs on the Wizards' part, but Walker just kept dribbling until he got space and once he did, he knocked down shots.

Much like Kyle Lowry did a few weeks ago, Walker made adjustments to find success against Satoransky. We haven't seen that happen much since Wall went out, but those two have given him some trouble. Both guys are considerably smaller than Satoransky and very quick. Maybe there's something to that.

Add it all up and this was one of the worst defensive games of the season for the Wizards. They allowed their most points in a game since Jan. 17 against, you guessed it, the Hornets. Only three times this year have they given up more than what they allowed on Friday.

No Sessions: The Wizards did not debut their newest player on Friday night, which was probably to be expected given Ramon Sessions has not had any practice time yet. That is part of why he didn't play, but it's also another indication that he is unlikely to play much with the Wizards. Sessions is on a 10-day contract and is not expected to supplant either Satoransky or Tim Frazier at point guard. Frazier would seem to be the guy in danger of losing minutes, but it was business as usual for him against the Hornets.

Up next: The Wizards are off Saturday before returning to action at home against the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

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