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Morning tip: Mental mistakes ruin Wizards' rhythm

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Morning tip: Mental mistakes ruin Wizards' rhythm

Even though the Wizards must grab every win they can get, they're not going to win them all. But it's when they have moments like this, squandering a 10-point lead in the first quarter and a smaller one in the third to the Atlanta Hawks, that makes them so unpredictable and difficult to count on.

They'd just beaten up the Hawks on Monday, playing nearly perfect on the defensive end by disrupting their movement and action, then allowed them to have their way. It produced a 122-101 loss for the Wizards (35-36) at Verizon Center, ending their five-game winning streak and equaling their loss total for 2014-15 season. To match that mark, the Wizards would have to go 11-0 the rest of the way which is very unlikely with games remaining at the Golden State Warriors and L.A. Clippers.

"I wouldn't call it a setback," said John Wall, who had 13 points and 10 assists but seven of the Wizards' 18 turnovers. "Just the other game, we made the threes and they didn't make them. They got the good looks. They made them."

It was a bit more complicated than that. The Hawks were 17 of 42 (40.5%) on three-pointers. The Wizards shot 12 of 30 (40%). 

But they weren't the more physical team. They were shot 10 fewer free throws (22-12) and were beaten in transition points (20-7). They also didn't stick to Kyle Korver who went from three points in 19 minutes on Monday to 15 points in 32 minutes. He made 5 of his 10 long-range shots as he had more then enough space to launch.

"We didn't cover the three-point line like we did on Monday," coach Randy Wittman said. "You can't get outscored by 21 points on points-off-turnovers."

The Wizards had the mental lapses that bad teams tend to repeat. They began the third quarter down 81-75 and Jared Dudley immediately turned the ball over on the inbound to start play. They had two more in a row, from Ramon Sessions and Wall, and the Hawks flipped those into eight points (two threes). The deficit was 89-75 just 58 seconds in and the game was effectively over. 

Then came three consecutive turnovers in the middle of the fourth from Dudley, Wall and Marcin Gortat. The Hawks scored 41 points in the fourth with mostly reserves, similar to what the Denver Nuggets did in a comeback win on March 12. Mike Scottt scored 10, Tim Hardaway six, Kris Humphries five and Dennis Schroder four. The Hawks made 14 of 21 shots, 66.7%

There is no shame in losing to a good team such as Atlanta (42-30). But the Wizards' bigs bit every pump fake from Al Horford and Paul Millsap on the arc to open up the paint and ignite the ball movement that ignites them. Garrett Temple picked up four fouls in just five minutes and couldn't keep Schroder in front of him. Markieff Morris reverted to early foul trouble that ruined a good start for him and led to his eventual disqualification.

Next up are two very winnable games, vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday and at the L.A. Lakers on Sunday. Win both and that's seven in eight games which isn't bad.

They still can finish above .500, where they haven't been since they were 6-5. Increasingly, however, the Wizards are going to need help -- meaning more losses from the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls -- to make the postseason. Only a perfect finish would save them to match last season's 46-36 record, and it's evident this group is far from perfect.

[RELATED: Hawks hit back with blowout of Wizards: Five takeaways]

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Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

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

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

On a roll

The Wizards have some serious momentum going right now. With an impressive win over the Cavs on Thursday, they have now won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. They had a week off due to the All-Star break, but didn't show any rust at all in their first game back.

The Wizards are now 34-24, 10 games above the .500 mark. They are fourth in the East and could move into third on Friday if they win and the Cavaliers lose. Even with Wall out, things continue to look up for Washington.

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Hornets have had their number

The Wizards haven't done so well against the Hornets so far this season. Charlotte has taken both meetings and that includes a 24-point win on Jan. 17. That game featured Dwight Howard taunting the Wizards late in the fourth quarter.

Howard has killed the Wizards through two games with averages of 22.0 points and 14.0 rebounds. Jeremy Lamb (20.0 ppg vs. Wizards) has been a big factor as well as All-Star Kemba Walker (21.5 ppg vs. Wizards).

The last time these teams played about a month ago frustrations boiled over in an incident that got Tim Frazier ejected. Michael Carter-Williams picked a fight with Jason Smith and Frazier went off:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

Hornets coming in hot

The Hornets are outside the playoff picture at the moment at eight games below .500, but they have won two straight games and Walker and Howard are coming off huge games. In a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, Walker dropped 31 points and Howard grabbed 24 rebounds.

Those guys will be riding a high coming into Washington on Friday. But it should be noted that Howard complained after the game how tired he is at this point in the season. That exhausion could affect him more in the second game of a back-to-back.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

 

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 110-103 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night...

1. The Wizards didn't start out well, as they trailed by nine points at the end of the first quarter. Kelly Oubre, Jr. stumbled early by missing four of his first six shots and it looked like a carryover of his slump before the All-Star break.

But Oubre got hot in the second quarter and helped the Wizards turn the game around. This was one of his best plays, a two-handed slam that he celebrated with an emphatic scream to the crowd:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

2. Tomas Satoransky was one of the stars of the game. He had 17 points to go along with eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. 

Here's one of his dimes, a perfect alley-oop lob to Markieff Morris, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds:

3. Satoransky has reached double-figures in six of the 10 games since John Wall went out with an injury. This was a very impressive move, a stepback fadeaway that was super smooth:

RELATED: GET TO KNOW NEW WIZARDS FREE AGENT SIGNING

4. Ian Mahinmi made some key contributions including four offensive rebounds and a steal. This was his best basket, a powerful slam that came at a key time:

5. This play helped seal the victory. It was a smart after-timeout set drawn up by head coach Scott Brooks and it worked to perfection:

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS