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Morning tip: Wizards concede Wittman correct about regular season


Morning tip: Wizards concede Wittman correct about regular season

Paul Pierce put the blame on the 15 players in the locker room. So did John Wall, Bradley Beal and every other voice that mattered after the Wizards cleaned out their lockers this week following another season that ended in the second round of the playoffs.

After a 31-15 start, they coasted and ultimately paid for it. Coach Randy Wittman called them out for it early and often and became exhausted having to hammer home the same point. They paced themselves to a 46-win season and another No. 5 seed. If they'd played with more urgency instead of trying to turn it on and off when it suited their purposes, maybe their series with the Atlanta Hawks turns out differently despite Wall's broken left wrist that cost him three games (See Pierce's keeping it real moment in the playoffs, pointing to some teammates enjoying success and the NBA lifestyle on the road too much in the regular season).

"The start was good. But I don't know if we as a group -- and I have to do a better job of it, No. 1 -- of the focus of what 82 games means and where you finish in that thing, can be the little thing that gets you over the hump," said Wittman, referring to the Wizards' slump going into and coming out of the All-Star break and then alluding to the Houston Rockets comeback from a 3-1 series deficit to beat the L.A. Clippers. "Look at the game (Sunday) night: Does Houston win that series if they don't have home-court advantage? That's a legitimate question. Does finishing third rather than fifth push you over the hump? And so to do that, you've got to have a better focus for 82 games. It's a long season. I've got to do a better job as well as wanting our players to do a better job of that."


Not having home-court advantage didn't hurt the Wizards in the first round last season when they upset the Chicago Bulls in five games or this season when they swept the Toronto Raptors in four. But the competition does get tougher. This isn't college. It's not any coach's responsibility to check on grownups being paid millions to make sure they're in bed and getting proper sleep during road trips, either.

"That's the biggest thing that Witt actually told us after the game," Beal said. "Before he said anything about our loss, just imagine we could've been a top three seed if we would've just did what we were supposed to do during the regular season. We started the season doing that then we slipped up and went 2 and 12 during one stretch which hurt us. ... We got to start thinking of matchups we want to face and make it easier on ourselves." 

Wall had a sore right knee and two aching ankles. Beal had a sore right ankle and a recurring stress injury in his lower right leg. Marcin Gortat even admitted, after the Wizards were embarrassed in a 22-point loss at home to the Brooklyn Nets in January, that the post players mailed it in because they were nursing injuries. Drew Gooden told the truth about their coasting, too.

"We got complacent. We (were) up. We (were) playing well. A lot of games over .500. And then going into the All-Star break, we didn't play well," Wall said. "And then coming out of the All-Star break, we didn't play well. And coach had already preached all season those are the type of games you've got to take away -- I mean, games that teams are giving away -- to try to build up and get a higher seed. We didn't do a great job of that and we kind of can see how much home court means in the playoffs."

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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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Wizards take out Pacers to earn important advantage in playoff seeding

Wizards take out Pacers to earn important advantage in playoff seeding

The Washington Wizards beat the Indiana Pacers 109-102 on Saturday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Important victory: Saturday night's game between the Wizards and Pacers had several layers of playoff implications on the line and it was Washington who rose to the occasion and showed the urgency commensurate for the stakes.

By beating the Pacers, the Wizards locked up the season series between the teams, two games to one. That gives them the tiebreaker for playoff seeding if the teams finish the regular season with the same record. That could very well prove paramount. As of now, the Wizards and Pacers have the same record (40-30) with 12 games to go.

The season series advantage means the Wizards are above the Pacers in the standings despite having the same record. They moved into fourth place in the East with the win and the Cavs slotted back into third. There will likely be a lot more movement as these next few weeks play out, but the Wizards now hold an important edge over the Pacers.

The win also pushed the Wizards to 14-8 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. Wall could return this coming week or the week after and the Wizards have more than stayed afloat during his absence.

The Wizards' magic number to make the playoffs is now just five. 


Sato went off: The Wizards jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter mostly thanks to a hot start from Tomas Satoransky, who scored the Wizards' first five points and had 10 by the end of the first quarter.

Satoransky's floater was automatic. He dropped in several in the lane from all different angles. Satoransky was practicing the same shots, floaters off each foot, the day before in practice and it paid off.

It was a well-rounded night for Satoransky. In addition to his 12 points, he also had eight assists and five rebounds, including this one to find Marcin Gortat for the dunk:

Gortat came up big: Speaking of Gortat, the Wizards' big man had one of his best games of the season. He poured in 18 points to go along with eight rebounds, four assists a steal and a block. Gortat shot 6-for-8, consistently having his way on the block.

The Pacers were without two of their best big men in Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis and Gortat took advantage of that. He was way too much for Al Jefferson.

The Pacers tried to roll with small-ball lineups using Trevor Booker and Thaddeus Young as their big men, but it didn't work. Gortat was too big for them and his teammates did a great job finding him for open looks.

Gortat's 18 points were his most since Jan. 3 when he had a season-high 21 against the Knicks. Lately, Gortat has seen his minutes dwindle with the increased role for Ian Mahinmi, so Saturday night must have felt good for the Polish Machine.


Bojan held in check: Bojan Bogdanovic, who spent part of last season with the Wizards, was a major factor in the first two matchups between Washington and the Pacers this season. He had 20 points in one game and 29 in another, each time getting hot from three.

The Wizards, though, made some adjustments in this one and held Bo Buckets in check. He didn't make his first shot until nearly the midway point of the second quarter and it was only because Kelly Oubre, Jr. (16 points, 18 minutes) lost his balance. Oubre stumbled backward, giving Bogdanovic a split second to get off an open three. That was the only shot he hit in the first half as he began the game 1-for-4.

Oubre did a good job harrassing Bogdanovic and not giving him space on the premiter. Otto Porter (eight points) and Bradley Beal (19 points) did as well. Both Porter and Beal stripped the ball out of Bogdanovic's hands early in the third quarter. Midway through the third, Bogdanovic got past Porter only to be called for an offensive foul on a collision with Gortat. All in all, it was a frustrating night for Bogdanovic, who had 11 points, three below his season average.

Bogdanovic is a very good shooter and when he's hot can alter games. But when you take his shots away, there's not much else he can do to hurt you. The Wizards did a good job taking away his strengths and making others beat them. Not having to focus on Turner and Sabonis certainly helped. 

Sessions is still in the rotation: It turns out those five games for Ramon Sessions over the course of his second 10-day contract weren't just an audition. Now that he has been signed for the rest of the season, Sessions is still getting the nod over Tim Frazier as the backup point guard.

Sessions logged 18 minutes and even played alongside Satoransky and Jodie Meeks in the fourth quarter. The Wizards had a sizable lead and head coach Scott Brooks decided to experiment with his lineups. That is something to keep in mind for when Wall comes back. Once he does, Sessions will be the third point guard and likely rarely see the court. But if they see something they like about him at shooting guard, that could open the door for more playing time possibilities.

Up next: The Wizards have three off-days before their next game. That will be on Wednesday when they head to San Antonio to face the Spurs. Tipoff is at 9:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. Pregame coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. with Wizards HangTime.

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