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State of the Wizards: Aiming for a winning record, Otto's always moving

State of the Wizards: Aiming for a winning record, Otto's always moving

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Can they get above .500? - After beating the Bucks in Milwaukee on Sunday afternoon, the Wizards find themselves at the .500 mark (18-18) for the second time this season. Last time they got here, at 16-16, they promptly lost two straight games. But those were on the road, where the Wizards have had major trouble this season. This next stretch in their schedule will offer plenty of games at the Verizon Center for them to rack up some Ws. 

Four of the Wizards' next five games are in Washington, where they are an impressive 14-6. And two of those games are against teams well below the .500 mark, the Sixers and Blazers. Securing a winning record would be a nice short-term goal for the Wizards and they are likely to reach it soon. They are 16-10 since beginning the season 2-8. That 16-10 mark is a 51-win pace over the course of a full season and it's not that small of a small sample size.

RELATED: Beal proving he is the opposite of soft

The Wizards' first opportunity will come against the Bulls on Tuesday night in Washington. If they win, they will go above .500 for the first time since Nov. 24, 2015 when they were 6-5.

Easier to score 50? - Sports Illustrated unearthed an amazing stat last week following Jimmy Butler's ' 52-point masterpiece against the Charlotte Hornets on Jan. 2. Butler was already the eighth different player to hit the 50-mark this season, tying the record for most in one NBA season with the 1989-90 campaign and last year. Considering there are three-plus more months of the NBA regular season left to play, that's very noteworthy.

Basically, there has been a huge increase in 50-point games in recent years. One of those performances this season was by John Wall, who had 52 himself on Dec. 6. Wall and others on the Wizards were asked this past week if they think it's easier now to score 50 points than it was in the past. The opinions varied:

Wall: "Might be so. There's more spacing out there. There's more spacing, there's a lot more fouls called and flagrant fouls, technical fouls; all of that's called that wasn't called back in that era. It was a lot more tough to get to the basket with hand-checking and all of that. I don't think those bigs back then would let us get to the basket so easy and score layups."

Bradley Beal: “I disagree. But at the same time I do agree because our eras were different. Foul calls were different. Guys shooting 20 free throws these days vs. however many they shoot back in the day. Guys are putting up, 50 you got to respect it.”

Scott Brooks: “I would probably say I disagree because it’s hard to score 50 points in a pickup game let alone an NBA game no matter what generation you’re playing in. Doesn’t happen often. The points have gone up. I think more teams are averaging more points this year than have in the last 25 years. It’s tough to score. Fifty points, that’s a number that’s not easy to get... There’s no question that [no hand-checking is] the biggest change. It was hard. You got these bigger point guards like Gary Payton, Derek Harper, hand-checking was part of the game. So you can basically where that point guard is going if they’re a bigger, stronger point guard. The rules are better now. It’s much more free-flowing. There’s so many more opportunities to drive and kick for threes. The three-point ball is exploding. There’s not a lot of guys that can score back to the basket. But I think if you’re growing up now days you walk in the gym you start shooting threes."

The other six besides Wall and Butler to drop 50 this year are Isaiah Thomas, Anthony Davis, Klay Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Who will be the ninth, if there is one? Beal has scored 40 or more twice already this season, so he's certainly capable.

Beal, by the way, suggested he thinks Westbrook's 17 triple-doubles this season are more impressive than the 50-point games:

"I would say Russ, having that many triple-doubles that many times in a row and being able to play that hard and at an elite level, that is kind of impressive and amazing to me. Just being able to play hard every single time you're on the floor and have no injuries and no splinters, just jumping and flying on the floor. Those things are impressive, but those are numbers. Guys are going to put up numbers every night. This is the game of basketball. It's not the first time we've seen guys score 40, 50 and above. It's just a trend where there's a lot of them this year. That's just the flow of the game. Guys are getting better."

Otto's always moving - Otto Porter may not be as fastest guy or play the most minutes, but every time he's on the court he's active on both ends of the floor. On offense he's cutting towards and away from the basket, while on defense he's usually guarding a mobile swingman. The result of all that has Porter near the top of the NBA in distance traveled per game.

Porter covers an average of 2.47 miles per game, which is tops on the Wizards and 11th overall in basketball. Beal offered a theory as to why that is:

"Otto's always moving without the ball. That's just a tale of what he does for us and the type of player that he is. He doesn't move at a fast pace, but he moves comfortably and he moves well without the ball probably better than most of us on the team. It's tough logging those many miles and putting that stress on your body, but he handles it well. He plays the three and the four, so it's a little tough on him. But he accepts it."

Eastern Conference standings

Stat line of the week: Marcin Gortat 1/6 vs. T'Wolves - 19 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, 9-for-9 FG

RELATED: VIDEO: Kid has meltdown during danceoff at Wizards game

Quote of the Week

"That's a little crazy to me. There's no way he should be that low. He averages a double-double. He's probably playing the best out of all the guards in the East."

- Beal on his teammate Wall placing 7th among guards in the East in NBA All-Star fan voting

Tweet (or Instagram) of the Week

Road ahead

Mon. - OFF
Tue. - 7 p.m. vs. Chicago Bulls (CSN)
Wed. - 8 p.m. at Boston Celtics (CSN)
Thu. - OFF
Fri. - OFF
Sat. - 8 p.m. vs. Philadelphia 76ers (CSN)
Sun. - OFF

RELATED: Oubre tries to pronounce Antetokounmpo, has trouble

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Wizards have letdown on defense, fall to Hornets in overtime

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USA Today Sports Images

Wizards have letdown on defense, fall to Hornets in overtime

The Washington Wizards lost the Charlotte Hornets 129-124 in overtime on Wednesday night at the Spectrum Center. Here's analysis of what went down...

Frustrating loss: The Wizards will not head into the Thanksgiving holiday a happy bunch. After an impressive road win at the Milwaukee Bucks, they let a winnable game slip away against the Hornets. They were up nine points with 3:32 left in the fourth, yet allowed the Hornets to force overtime and then dominate the extra period.

Defense was the problem for Washington. After holding opponents to 95 points or less in six of their last seven games, the Wizards gave up 129 points to an average offensive team. Yes, 15 of those points came in overtime, but the Wizards won't be happy with their defense after this one. They will probably regret the 53 bench points they gave up more than anything.

Beal, Wall heated up late: Neither John Wall or Bradley Beal had a rhythm in the first half, but both woke up later on for the Wizards. Wall had eight points in the first half, but on 3-for-11 shooting. Beal had seven points, but also on 3-for-11 from the field.

Stars can only be held in check for so long and Wall and Beal broke ultimately broke through. Wall had 11 points in the third quarter and Beal had seven. 

For a while it looked like Wall and Beal had taken the game over, but the Wizards couldn't take advantage despite Wall ending up with 31 points and 11 assists and Beal having 22 points, four rebounds and two steals.

Beal's night was highlighted by a series of dunks in the first half, including this one with two hands:

[RELATED: MAJOR INJURY NEWS FOR THE 2018 NBA DRAFT]

Howard was a beast: The Wizards did a good job limiting Dwight Howard this past spring when they faced the Hawks in the playoffs, but they had no such luck on Wednesday in their first meeting with Howard's Hornets. Howard was dominant down low with 26 points and 13 rebounds. The Hornets did a good job feeding him in the post and when he has position there are little options beyond sending him to the free throw line. 

Marcin Gortat (eight points, 11 rebounds) is a good match for Howard on most nights. They know each other well as former teammates with the Orlando Magic. Gortat had a fine game, but Howard was at his best on Wednesday. He was coming off of a 25-point, 20-rebound performance and he kept it going against the Wizards.

Howard also blocked Beal's buzzer-beater at the end of regulation. Beal got the ball with two seconds left and tried driving to his left down the baseline. Howard read the move and swatted the ball out of bounds. Howard then had a big bucket with less than a minute to go. He had a putback on an airballed three that was a backbreaker for the Wizards, who needed a stop.

Meeks and Scott were a plus: The Wizards got a nice boost from their bench from Jodie Meeks (nine points) and Mike Scott (13 points), two guys who have proven this season to be instant offense when they're at their best. Scott came in and hit a three with a pair of midrange jumpers in the first half. Meeks was getting it down in the paint with floaters and layups on nice cuts to the basket. 

Scott hit three threes and is now shooting 44.8 percent for the season. It's only on 29 attempts, but that's not bad at all.

Lamb was a problem: The Wizards had a lot of trouble with Hornets reserve Jeremy Lamb, who has been Charlotte's most improved player so far this season. He was a force off the bench with 24 points in 37 minutes. Lamb has always had a lot of potential as a freak athlete with a sweet jumper. He may be starting to truly put it all together.

The Wizards even tried Kelly Oubre, Jr., one of their best defenders, on him. But Lamb kept getting buckets and added seven rebounds and five assists. 

Up next: The Wizards are off for Thanksgiving and Friday. They pick back up on Saturday with the Portland Trail Blazers in town. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

[RELATED: MARKIEFF MORRIS STANDS UP FOR MEEK MILL]

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Markieff Morris stands up for rapper Meek Mill, was happy to see support in Philly

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USA Today Sports

Markieff Morris stands up for rapper Meek Mill, was happy to see support in Philly

Rap star Meek Mill going back to prison has affected many of his fans, Markieff Morris among them. The Washington Wizards forward is from Philadelphia, like Meek Mill, and loves his music.

Morris posted information for a rally to support Meek Mill earlier this month on his Instagram. Hundreds of fans showed up, including Sixers legend Julius Erving, Eagles players and Rick Ross.

The whole tri-state pull up and support!!

A post shared by KeefMorris5.0 (@keefmorris5.0) on

[RELATED: MAJOR INJURY NEWS FOR THE 2018 NBA DRAFT]

Morris joined the Wizards Tipoff podcast this week to discuss a series of topics, including Meek Mill. Morris is upset about the situation, but was happy to see the support.

"The city was big. We needed that, man," he said. "For them people to come out, it was a great thing for us, man, to see the support that the city is really behind him 100 percent."

Morris defended Meek Mill's character and pointed to his charitable efforts.

"Meek does a lot of stuff that goes unseen in Philly. He's kind of like us when it comes to showing support for the city and doing stuff while not looking for cameras to be broadcast it that he's doing something nice. He just does it because he's a good person," Morris said.

Meek Mill is going back to prison for violating his probation numerous times over the past several years. He was sentenced to two to four years.

Morris also talked about his relationship with John Wall and Bradley Beal, why he loves playing with Mike Scott, why the Wizards are a tough team and many other subjects.

Listen to the full interview right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

[RELATED: BRADLEY BEAL'S BIG MILESTONE, BY THE NUMBERS]