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Morning tip: Why Wizards fall asleep at wheel with leads?


Morning tip: Why Wizards fall asleep at wheel with leads?

NEW YORK -- Just when it seemed defensively the Wizards were on to something, even thought it was the New York Knicks, they came unglued in the second half. While they won 111-108, by no means can it be assumed that they've turned any corners going into tonight's game at the Milwaukee Bucks.

It's just the opposite.

“It’s probably just mental. We all have to look at ourselves individually," said Bradley Beal about blowing a 13-point halftime lead that was cut almost in half just 48 seconds into the third quarter. "We got to get ourselves going. We got off to a great start in the first quarter. We have to figure out how to get that same energy, that same momentum going into the third quarter. We got to figure it out.”

This isn't about the style of offense for the Wizards (23-27) or injuries (Nene, Kris Humphries are back and Beal is starting again). They even had a 10-point lead with 1:51 left in the game and allowed that to be trimmed to one.

"In the second half we can’t become reluctant. We missed a couple shots and now nobody wants to pull the trigger," coach Randy Wittman said. "We’ve got to get out of that. I want to tell guys to stop shooting. We got good shots, we got to take them. In the third quarter there we missed a couple easy ones and then we passed up the next four or five shots and then the shot we took was pretty good. That gets them back in the game.”

The Wizards began the third 1-for-5 and by the time Beal hit consecutive three-point shots it wasn't enough to keep separation because New York was 8-for-12 shooting, half of them from three-point range.

“First half we played aggressive. We were into the ball," said John Wall, who held Jose Calderon scoreless. "We took their flow away. But in the second half, we didn’t take their flow away. When we don’t take flow away, they get movement and do whatever they want and that’s how they got back in the game.

"When we don’t make shots to start the third and the other teams start making shots our defense drops. Our pressure drops. We got to find a way to get out of that because you’re not going to make shots the whole game."


Games the Wizards have lost because of second-half droughts:

  • 101-87 at Charlotte Hornets on Nov. 25: Led 85-76 with less than five minutes remaining but shot 0 for 17 from the field with three turnovers in their final 19 possessions.

  • 84-82 vs. Toronto Raptors on Nov. 28: Led 68-60 with 32 seconds left in the third quarter, lost on a buzzer-beating shot. Washington failed to make a field goal in the final 4:24.

  • 107-105 at New Orleans Pelicans on Dec. 11: Led 86-77 with 10:04 left after a three-point shot by Jared Dudley. Just 1:08 later, that lead was down to two points.

  • 119-117 vs. Boston Celtics on Jan. 16: Led 53-42 with 2:44 left before halftime. Less than four minutes into the third quarter, the lead had been lost.

  • 108-104 at Charlotte Hornets on Feb. 6: Led 55-36 with 2:29 left before halftime. That was cut to 10 at the break and it was completely erased by 3:50 of the third quarter.

Turn these games into wins and they're over .500 going into the All-Star break which begins after Thursday's game and the tone of the season looks totally different.

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It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

The Wizards crossed off an important goal on Saturday night by beating the Indiana Pacers and therefore securing the season series. If the teams tie with the same regular season record, the Wizards will get the higher playoff seed. As of today, that would mean home court advantage in the first round.

Though the Wizards have beaten the Pacers in two of their three matchups this season, we only know so much about how they would match up in the playoffs. The first game between them didn't feature Pacers All-Star Victor Oladipo and John Wall didn't play in any of the three games. The Pacers were without both Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis on Saturday night.

Given the Pacers underwent so much change over the summer, there is no real data to go off of from before this season. They are a completely different team with Oladipo leading the way and Paul George now in Oklahoma City.


There are reasons to believe, however, that the Wizards would fare well against the Pacers over the course of a seven-game series. For one, they figured out how to slow Oladipo and his teammate Bojan Bogdanovic on Saturday night. Both had killed the Wizards in previous matchups.

Oladipo was held to 18 points, over five points below his season average of 23.5. He had four turnovers, shot 7-for-16 (43.7%) and finished a -18 in a game the Pacers lost by seven.

The Wizards had some success with Tomas Satoransky guarding Oladipo. Satoransky is 6-foot-7 with long arms. He was able to recover on several occasions to alter Oladipo's shots.

Satoransky and Bradley Beal also did a good job keeping pace with Oladipo on the fastbreak. The Pacers had only four fastbreak points in the game. Oladipo is especially dangerous in the open court.

“We just made sure that we were aggressive with him and made sure he saw a lot of bodies in the paint," Beal said. "The last game, he got a lot of easy ones in transition. We just made sure that we got back on the shot, loaded to the ball and forced the other guys to attack.”

For Bogdanovic, it was about limiting open shots from the perimeter. Bogdanovic had 11 points, three below his season average and had four turnovers. Beal and Otto Porter stripped Bogdanovic for steals and Marcin Gortat took a charge on one play in the third quarter.


But it was all about taking away the outside shot. Bogdanovic only hit one shot in the first half and it was a three. The only reason he got it off is because Kelly Oubre, Jr. lost his balance backing up. That gave Bogdanovic the window he needed. Otherwise, Oubre helped frustrate the former Wizards small forward. So did Gortat and Ian Mahinmi, who did a good job covering their teammates off screens.

The Pacers are an average offensive team, ranking 16th in points per game and 14th in offensive rating. They are better defensively, ranking ninth-best in opponents points per game and 12th in defensive efficiency.

If the Wizards can limit Oladipo and Bogdanovic, the Pacers' two leading scorers, they should have a good shot at beating the Pacers in the playoffs. Beyond them, the Pacers are thin in the scoring department. Turner only averages 13.6 points and no one else beyond him can consistently make an opposing defense pay for mistakes. Conversely, several Wizards players have given the Pacers major trouble through three games this season.

Gortat, who had 18 points and eight rebounds on Saturday, has averaged 13 points and eight rebounds on 57.7 percent shooting against Indiana. Kelly Oubre, Jr., who had 16 points in 18 minutes, has averaged 15.5 points and is shooting 50 percent from the field.


In addition to those guys, Markieff Morris, Porter, Mike Scott, Mahinmi and Satoransky are all shooting over 50 percent against the Pacers. Satoransky is shooting 71.4 percent through three games.

The Wizards have the pieces to counter what the Pacers do best. Indiana is seventh in three-point percentage, but the Wizards are the best team in basketball in opponents three-point percentage. The Pacers are built around an All-Star guard, but the Wizards have two All-Star guards. The Pacers have a collection of talented wing players, but so do the Wizards.

"Hypothetically, I do like Indiana," Beal said. "I like how we match up with Indiana and I feel like there is a lot of stuff that we can take advantage of. In a lot of categories, I think we can win them."

Add it all up and the Wizards have every reason to feel confident if they see the Pacers in the posteason. Keep that in mind because they very well could meet up in the spring.

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

Here are five plays or moments from the Wizards' 109-102 win over the Pacers on Saturday night that are worth revisiting... 

1. The Wizards took care of business against the Pacers on Saturday night and in doing so earned an important advantage in the playoff race. They won the season series and therefore own a tiebreaker for playoff seeding and currently that would mean home court advantage in the first round if the playoffs began today.

The Wizards took control early and part of that effort were five first-half assists by Bradley Beal. He ended up with 19 points, but some of his best plays were passes.

On this one, he executed a perfect pick-and-roll with Marcin Gortat:


2. This was another pretty pass to Gortat. Tomas Satoransky, who had 12 points and eight assists, fed Gortat with a nice reach-around pass on a play that featured some impressive ball movement overall:

3. This was a great moment. The Wizards had a member of the military surprise his niece on the court. She literally did not see it coming:


4. These last two plays are dunks by Kelly Oubre, Jr., who finished with 16 points. On this play, he cut through the and threw down with authority:

5. This dunk was set up by a beautiful pass from Ramon Sessions. It traveled about three-quarters of the court and Oubre did the rest:

The Wizards now have three days off before their next game as they sit fourth in the Eastern Conference. Things are trending positive for the Wizards as the playoff race heats up.

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