The one word that is used about the Wizards under coach Randy Wittman, from veterans past such as Paul Pierce and Andre Miller, to present is "preparation." It's second to none, but it was inadequate in regards to Serge Ibaka in a blowout loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Wittman said before tip off that his bigs should be more effective because against the Thunder they didn't have to chase a stretch power forward. While Ibaka, who always has been a good mid-range shooter at 6-10, was at 16.7% from three-point range going into Tuesday's game, he made them pay dearly for focusing too much on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
"We knew Serge could step out and shoot threes. He hit a little bit more than we expected," said Wizards rookie Kelly Oubre. "We thought he wasn't shooting that much this year. He stepped out, ventured into his range. He was hitting tonight. We weren't focused on that moreso. Focused on Russ and KD. He had a great game."
To be exact, Ibaka had 23 points, making all of this three-point attempts as the Thunder led 68-50 at halftime. His first triple broke a 6-6 tie. A couple of point-blank shots from him later and the Thunder were up by 14 after the first quarter. The next trey made the score 58-44. Then in the third quarter, Ibaka's final three pushed the score to 80-54.
And Westbrook still got his triple-double with 22 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds in only 28 minutes. Durant had a double-double, 14 points and 10 rebounds, in just 17 minutes before a left hamstring strain kept him out after halftime.
The Wizards were 0-for-3.
"You focus on the other two guys but come on, Ibaka is a great defensive player for them. He's one of the best four men in mid-range jump shots. That's where he makes his living at," Wizards point guard John Wall said. "He made corner threes. That's where he's been shooting. They just outrebounded and outhustled us on every play. Loose balls or offensive rebounds. That's where you lose the game with a team like that."
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Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.
Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.
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The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message.
"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."
The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.
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Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.
Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.
Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one.
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Here are the five best plays or moments from the Wizards' 122-105 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night...
1. This was a tough one for the Wizards. For the third time this season, they got beaten by the Hornets and for the second straight time it was in a blowout.
They still had their moments, though, including this alley-oop from Tomas Satoransky (11 points) to Markieff Morris (13 points, eight assists, six rebounds). It was the second alley-oop connection for those two in as many games:
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2. This was a play that encapsulated the Wizards' night. Jodie Meeks drew a flagrant foul on Michael Carter-Williams, but took a hard shot to the head:
3. Kelly Oubre, Jr. had a solid game with 11 points, including this big dunk:
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4. Speaking of Oubre, he helped the Wizards close the first half with a late surge. The real highlight was Bradley Beal stealing the ball and hitting a corner three at the buzzer:
5. Beal ended up with 33 points, six assists and six rebounds. Here's an and-1 he got to go down in the second half:
All in all, it was an ugly performance for the Wizards. To cheer you up, we'll leave you with this young fan who had a great time at Capital One Arena despite the result:
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