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No harm in Wizards curbing constant fouling


No harm in Wizards curbing constant fouling

There is little reason for concern over the actual result in the Wizards 100-88 loss at Charlotte on Sunday, a game in which Washington played without several key contributors and represented the first of eight preseason contests. However, there were two specific points coach Randy Wittman took from the opener and emphasized during Tuesday's morning practice session.

"Fouling. Fouling, No. 1. Ball movement, offensively, No. 2," Wittman said. "We held the ball a little bit too long. Each of us. Instead of making quick decisions. Those probably, two things are the things that we really concentrated on today."

Take a look at the final box score and it's not surprising the coach singled out those areas; offensively the Wizards shot 33 percent from the field and committed 20 turnovers. Whistled for 41 fouls -- five each from forwards Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton -- the Wizards put the Bobcats on the free throw line a whopping 46 times.

"Young guys that are aggressive have to learn how to play aggressive," Wittman said of his second-year forwards. "There is a way to do it. Thats a teaching process that were going through. Both of them. Chris had five fouls in the game too and realistically, three of them for both of them couldve been prevented. Dumb fouls. Four seconds left on the clock in the quarter and Chris fouls 94 feet from the basket, trying to steal the ball at the end of the quarter. Those kind of things, weve got to eliminate, all of us. Just not those two guys, those kind of fouls."

This type of adjustment, Wittman said, is all about experience and communicating.

"Its looking up at the clock and that usually, I lay that on our point guard. Our point guard has to know time situation every minute of the game. Theyve got to know, weve got two fouls to give, or were in the bonus. And tell the bigs, we cant afford any stupid fouls here. Were in the bonus. Thats communication. That was something that was lacking in Charlotte."

Vesely's international background works against him at times, like when he picked 10 fouls in a single game during the Las Vegas Summer League.

"In Europe, you can be more physical. As you can see in games, he's in foul trouble a lot," guard Shelvin Mack said. "He's still trying to adjust to it, but he has the right attitude, staying positive trying to get better every day."

Singleton's aggression also led to nine rebounds in 15 minutes of action. Not having Nene, Emeka Okafor and Trevor Booker on the court led to the Wizards primary starting small forward last season receiving time at power forward against Charlotte.

"We were shorthanded," Wittman said. "We played him some last year that. Kind of gives us the ability to stretch the floor out. We did that a lot last year at the end to spread the floor out with him at the four. John handled the ball on the floor with four other bigs just spread around, so obviously with Booker, Okafor and Nene all out, it gave us a good opportunity to look at that."

Wittman also continues to look at the point guard position with John Wall out of the lineup. Jannero Pargo returned to practice Tuesday after sitting out the last few days including Sunday's game with an abdominal strain, a game in which Mack tallied seven assists without a turnover and A.J. Price was part of the first unit's offensive struggles. Still, more time is required before coming to any rotation conclusions.

"Not really. Well see that more in games. This game is played five-on-five and well see that, as we see these last seven games of the preseason and really get a better feel for that," Wittman said. "Im still evaluating that spot and well continue to do that.

The Wizards wrap up the George Mason University part of training camp Tuesday night with an open practice and a performance by recording artist Wale. Wittman drolly stated enthusiasm for the concert portion of the open practice ("Just cant wait"). Whether he's the kind of guy that has Wale on his IPod or not, the coach obviously is focused elsewhere.

"Camp goes through October. Its the closing of George Mason. We had a good week of practice. Weve got things weve got to do better, obviously through our Charlotte game. We worked pretty good on that today. And then tonight, well put more together in game-like situations, scrimmaging and see if we made any progress from Sunday night Charlotte."

Notes...Trevor Booker remained sidelined with left hamstring soreness...As for Nene, who has yet to practice because of plantar fasciitis, Wittman did not have update on that front. "All do is each morning, I come in, I ask the trainer who I got, who dont have. And thats all I can worry about right now. I write down who I got and we formulate a practice plan and we come out here. And Ill come back tonight and see who I got and who I dont got. Thats my update."

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Bradley Beal's phantom foul and the Wizards' most important rally of the season

Bradley Beal's phantom foul and the Wizards' most important rally of the season

After calling an inconsistent game throughout the night, the referees made a decision with five minutes to go in Game 4 that nearly altered the entire series between the Wizards and Raptors.

DeMar DeRozan was chasing a rebound on the baseline and ran into Bradley Beal. Beal, who had a team-high 31 points, was levied a sixth and final foul with the score tied. 

Beal had unloaded for 20 points in 12 minutes in the second half, but now the Wizards would have to close it out without their All-Star shooting guard. Somehow, they were able to seal the win and tie the series.

Beal heard the whistle as he laid on the ground. He immediately hopped up and unleashed a tantrum that nobody could blame him for.

He jumped up and down, screaming at the referees, who had just called by all accounts a questionable foul and in a key moment of a playoff game.

Both Beal and head coach Scott Brooks were incensed and with good reason.

“I was beyond emotional, beyond mad, frustrated," Beal said. "I honestly thought they were going to kick me out of the game I was so mad, but I was happy they didn’t do that."

Beal is probably lucky the referees didn't take offense to his reaction because it continued when he was on the bench. He walked past his teammates and leaned over with his hands on his knees, still furious. Then he returned to the sideline to yell at the refs. Center Ian Mahinmi helped convince him to step back and cool off.

Beal has made a major difference in this series. He averaged 14.0 points in the first two games, both losses. He has averaged 29.5 points in Games 3 and 4, two Wizards wins.

Getting him out of the game was a major break for the Raptors, but they couldn't take advantage. The Wizards closed the final five minutes on a 14-6 tear. John Wall stepped up to lead the charge with eight of those points.

The Wizards still had one star on the court and he played like one.

“Just go in attack mode," Wall said. "When Brad went out, I knew I had to do whatever it took... I just wanted to do whatever, so that we could advance to Game 5, tied 2-2.”

Once Beal composed himself, his confidence grew in his teammates. He and Wall feel comfortable playing without each other because they have done so often throughout their careers.

This year, Wall missed 41 games due to a left knee injury. Two years ago, Beal missed 27 games. Early on in his career, he had trouble staying healthy. Now he is an iron man who played in all 82 games during the 2017-18 regular season.

Beal has grown accustomed to being on the floor a lot, but he realized he can still affect the game from the sidelines.

"I just gathered my emotions, gathered my thoughts and told my team we were going to win, regardless. I knew if we still had John [Wall] in the game I loved our chances," Beal said. "Face the adversity that I had to overcome, just gather myself and be a leader, being vocal and keeping everyone encouraged in the game.”

Wall and others did the heavy lifting in the end. The Wizards used Kelly Oubre, Jr. as the shooting guard with Beal out and he made key plays down the stretch, including a steal on Kyle Lowry in the closing seconds.

The Wizards were thrown a significant curveball and they overcame it to put themselves in good position now having won two straight.

“You have to have resolve to win in this league," Brooks said. "You win playoff games and you win playoff series with having that. We have that, and we have to continue to have that because we have to win two more games and one of them has to be on the road."

When it comes to the officiating, the Wizards deserve credit for their resilience and restraint early in Game 4. The Raptors had 16 free throws in the first quarter compared to the Wizards' four. Washington perservered and ended up with more free throws (31) than the Raptors (30) did for the game.

In Game 1, the Wizards appeared to be affected by a lack of foul calls. That came was called loosely by the referees, while this one was officiated tightly. Though Beal went off, the Wizards for the most part stayed the course and were rewarded for it.

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The Wizards supplied all the highlights and fireworks; 5 must-see moments from Game 4

The Wizards supplied all the highlights and fireworks; 5 must-see moments from Game 4

WASHINGTON -- As the home team in a dire situation you have to take advantage, and that is exactly what the Washington Wizards did in their 106-98 win over the Toronto Raptors.

Highlight reel play after highlight reel play, the Wizards ignited the crowd with some of their best plays from the entire season to make it 2-2 in the series. Here are just a few of them:

1. John Wall collects posters in the first half

The first one was perhaps the best. Everything was going wrong for the Wizards, poor turnovers, bad shots, a three from Toronto. Then John Wall had enough. Not only did he fly past his defender Kyle Lowry, but he went up and slammed one home past the 7-foot Jonas Valanciunas. Up until that point, the Wizards were shooting 1-for-7.

Rinse and repeat, except this time Jakob Poeltl was Wall’s victim.

2. Wall to Beal alley-oop in transition

With the Wizards’ offense faltering, the Raptors remained on the verge of blowing the game open throughout the second quarter. But with a steal from Otto Porter Jr., Wall hung up the ball for Bradley Beal to slam home. The alley-oop kept the Wizards within single digits in the second with an uninspiring offensive effort.

3. Otto Porter breaks out of the half

A subdued offensive start to the game was due in part to the production from Porter. In the first half he went 0-for-4 with one point in nearly 17 minutes of action.

Throw that away in the second half. He broke out of halftime with back-to-back threes and 10 of the Wizards’ 26 in a monster 26-14 run to take the lead back in the third.

He finished the quarter with 10 points, an assist, and two blocks.

4. The Polish Hammer throwing it home

Are you convinced yet that Marcin Gortat’s new haircut is doing him some good? Gortat squeezed through two Raptors’ defenders, threw it down, gave a Goliath-type roar to the crowd before officially bringing the hammer down. 

5. Beal being called for his sixth foul of the game

Agree with the call or not, there is no denying that Beal’s removal from the game lit a fire underneath the Wizards. From that point Washington went on a 14-6 scoring run to end the game, closing out for the win.