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By the numbers: Wizards exceed 3-point shooting hype


By the numbers: Wizards exceed 3-point shooting hype

One preseason game is in the books for the Washington Wizards. Since we have no other season data available, we're going to extrapolate what these numbers mean for the entire 2015-16 campaign.

Fine, let's not do that. Preseason is just that and Tuesday's opponent, the Philadelphia 76ers, might be the worst team in the NBA. However, the Wizards played offensively as advertised. They ran lots and they launched 3-pointers.  Those shots from beyond the arc were taken with purpose, but also with ease.

"When you can just play with that freedom, it means a lot," Ramon Sessions said of the 3-point shooting approach this year under coach Randy Wittman. "Everybody in the NBA can play, but when you have that confidence knowing you're not going to get pulled or yelled at, it makes the game open up that much more."

Here's a look at how much more the Wizards opened up the perimeter game in their preseason opener.

Playing a traditional lineup with two big men during the 2014-15 regular season, the Wizards averaged 6.1 3-pointers on 16.8 attempts. The look changed in the playoffs as the Wizards deployed the now ex-Wizard Paul Pierce at power forward to help stretch the floor. Washington sank 9.4 3's on 23.3 attempts.

Against Philadelphia, Washington finished 15 of 26 from beyond the arc. 

That's two more made 3-pointers than the Wizards hit any regular season game last year. The total also matched their playoff-high. 

Obviously, the makes are important, but the key number for now is the attempts, i.e., the commitment.

Those 26 tries are more than they attempted in 78 of their 82 regular season games last season. Washington would have finished eighth last season with 26 attempts per game. Instead they ranked 27 out of 30 teams.

The change isn't just about scheme, but personnel and mental approach.

Of the 10 players who received the most minutes Tuesday, eight took at least one 3-pointer and seven tried multiple long shots. Only interior options Marcin Gortat and Nene didn't launch from deep. Otto Porter made all four his 3-pointers. Gary Neal, signed as a free agent this summer, went 3 for 4.

All of this bombing took place without Jared Dudley (back surgery), Martell Webster (hip), Alan Anderson (ankle) and Kelly Oubre Jr. (ankle). Three of those four are new to the team and the entire quartet is capable of sinking those long shots. Dudley's ability as a stretch-4 makes him one of the keys for the new-look operation.

Nobody exemplifies the change more than Kris Humphries. The power forward made 2 of 4 3-pointers against the 76ers. Here's the kicker: He last made a regular season 3-pointer during his rookie season. That was the 2004-05 campaign. Over the next decade, he averaged two attempts -- per season.

Humphries, who worked on extending his range over the summer, said it "felt good" once he made his first 3-pointer Tuesday. "That's what they want to do here. You kind of have to adapt to help your team."

Based on the opening preseason game, it might behoove those who still view the Wizards as some plodding, behind the times squad to adapt a new outlook.

MORE WIZARDS: Morning tip: To get up to speed, Wizards must clear this hurdle

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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


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Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

As if they needed a reminder, the Wizards saw firsthand on Wednesday night just how much can change in a short period of time in the Eastern Conference playoff race where just two games separate the No. 3 and No. 6 teams.

That No. 6 team is now your Washington Wizards, who began the day in fourth place but lost their first game in four days on the same night both the Cavs and Sixers won theirs. 

The Wizards lost to the Spurs on Wednesday and managed only 90 points, their fewest since Jan. 22. It was a lackluster performance in a game the Wizards needed to treat with urgency. 

The Spurs sure did.

"We've gotta have a better mentality coming into games," guard Bradley Beal said. "The Spurs were fighting for playoff seeding just like we were."

The Wizards have now lost six of their last 10, yet all those games have come against teams currently holding playoff spots. Considering John Wall remains out with a left knee injury, it's hard to fault them too much when they are staying afloat just fine in the big picture.


The problem is that the closer they get to the end of the season, the more these losses are magnified. They amount to missed opportunities, some bigger than others.

That was not lost on Beal, who considered the alternative. If the Wizards had beaten the Spurs, they would be sitting in fourth, two spots higher, and just a game-and-a-half out of third.

"Every time we have a chance to move up, we take two steps back," Beal lamented.

The Wizards are in a high stakes part of the standings where plenty is in the balance. They are fighting for home-court advantage, something they would get in the third or fourth spots. And who they match up with will be paramount.


By falling to sixth, the Wizards are currently in line to play the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though the Pacers and Sixers are also good teams, they don't have LeBron James. Avoiding him and the Cavs would be ideal for the Wizards.

Beal has even bigger worries than that. He noted after the loss in San Antonio that they could fall even further if they aren't careful. They are now just a game-and-a-half up on the seventh-place Heat. 

"We've gotta realize what's at stake, man. The way we're going, we could keep dropping and mess around and be eighth. We've gotta do whatever it takes to win," he said.

The Wizards should be fine if the previous two months are any indication. But Wednesday night was another example of how precarious things are for them this season in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference.


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