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Takeaways from Wizards' blowout win over Pistons

Takeaways from Wizards' blowout win over Pistons

After having no identity in the first part of the season, the Wizards appear to have found one. They played their most disciplined game of the season Friday, committing just five turnovers and followed the lead of John Wall and Bradley Beal in a 122-108 win over the Detroit Pistons in front of 15,573 at Verizon Center.

They were the first opponent to score more than 100 points on Detroit in eight games. The Pistons were allowing just 95.7 points per game, second fewest in the NBA, but the Wizards reached 95 after three quarters.

John Wall (29 points, 11 assists, three steals) led the way with Beal (25 points, four assists) in support. Marcin Gortat (12 points, 14 rebounds, four assists) continued to get the better of his matchup with Andre Drummond as the Wizards won for the sixth time in eight games of the series.

Markieff Morris (11 points, four assists), Otto Porter (15 points, eight rebounds, three assists), Marcus Thornton (11 points) were the other players to reach double figures.

The Wizards (11-14) have won four of their last five games and will have a chance to have their first three-game winning streak of the season when they face the L.A. Clippers on Sunday.

Detroit (14-14) was led by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (24 points), Jon Leuer (17 points), Tobias Harris (14 points), Drummond (13 points, 12 rebounds) and Reggie Jackson (14 points).

--Through three quarters, the Wizards had just one turnover and ended up with six. Their previous low this year was nine. Last year, it was six and in 2014-15 season it was five. Coming into the game, the Pistons committed the fewest in the league (12). They only had nine in this game. The miscues came into play when mostly reserves occupied the floor late.

--Even off made baskets, Wall kept pace into the game. He drew Jackson’s fourth foul at 7:03 of the third. Aron Baynes picked up his fourth on Wall’s drive into traffic with 2.6 seconds left. Baynes had three fouls in just four minutes of the first half alone. Wall went to the foul line 12 times. He made nine.

--Morris started out well after missing the last game with a sore right foot. He had three assists in a matter of minutes, but he also picked up two quick fouls to park himself on the bench. Early foul trouble off reach-ins has been a bad habit all season. But he was a force in the third quarter on both ends, including stuffing his brother’s drive on a fast break with a block, to get the Wizards ahead by as many as 18 points at that point. He only needed to play 18 minutes while Kelly Oubre played starter's minutes off the bench with 34.

--Wall contested three shots on help, an indication of his multiple efforts, to prevent baskets. One was on Caldwell-Pope who’d made his two previous three-point shots. The other was on Harris as he had a clean run to the rim for a dunk that back-rimmed as a result of Wall’s challenge.

--Jason Smith had another good start off the bench, but he left at 7:21 of the second quarter with a strained right hamstring, walked to the locker room and didn’t return to the bench. He was 2-for-2 in five minutes and has found his groove offensively. Instead of running screen action with Thornton, Smith ran it with Beal who automatically gets trapped. That opens the look for Smith when he pops mid-range because all of the attention that Beal draws. Thornton doesn’t command such a scheme which minimizes Smith’s ability in that situation. Despite his injury, coach Scott Brooks didn’t go to Andrew Nicholson much until the game was out of reach in the fourth.

--Tomas Satoransky had registered six DNP-CDs (did not play coach’s decision) but played five minutes in the first half. He didn’t take a shot but he took the floor at the three spot – not as a point guard – initially as he was used as a playmaker/extra ball-handler. Satoransky had two assists. He shifted to point guard when Trey Burke left the floor and Beal returned.

--Beal’s first three-point shot, which came at the 4:07 of the second quarter for a 53-42 lead, gave him his 500th of his career. Only two players have reached that benchmark in franchise history, Antwan Jamison and Gilbert Arenas.

--The bench, led by Thornton, had 30 points. Oubre (seven points, six rebounds) went back to his reserve role and played a major part in the Pistons' starting forwards shooting a combined 6-for-24 from the field.


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Phil Chenier becomes fifth Bullets player to ever have his jersey retired


Phil Chenier becomes fifth Bullets player to ever have his jersey retired

On the newest banner that hangs from the rafters at Capital One Arena, a small microphone - embroidered with a white 33 - is subtly stitched into the bottom left corner. 

You'd barely notice it was there; Phil Chenier certainly didn't.

Chenier, who had his #45 jersey retired tonight during halftime of tonight's Wizards-Nuggets game, didn't even notice the mic, added to signify his three decades as a broadcaster with the team.

"I had no idea there was even a mic on it," Chenier said, laughing. "I'll have to go back out and look at it some more."

Despite the Wizards' 108-100 loss, the night was first and foremost a celebration of Chenier - the 5th player in franchise history to have his number rasied in the rafters. He joins Earl Monroe, Elvin Hayes, Gus Johnson, and Wes Unseld as the only players to achieve the honor so far.

"To be up there with the other 4 names means a lot – people I had the fortune of playing with," he added. "I remember my first day of practice and I had just watched this team play in the finals and now I’m plopped down with Wes Unfeld and Earl Monroe and Gus Johnson. It seemed like they accepted me from the get go."

Many from that 1978 Championship team were in attendance on Friday night, watching as one of their teammates cemented his professional legacy. For Chenier, that acceptance as an All-Time Bullets great is at the core of why he played the game.

"You know, when you play this game, you play for acceptance," he said. "You want to be the best, you want to be accepted. Having players and childhood friends – and of course, your family – here, you’re surrounded by so many people that meant a lot to you both before and now. It’s a really humbling feeling.”

It was hard to find someone in DC without something good to say about Chenier on Friday night. Even in the basement of Capital One Center, after the Wizards' fifth loss in seven games, head coach Scott Brooks took a moment out of his press conference to praise Chenier. 

"[Chenier] is a great ambassador and we all love him," Brooks said. "It's well deserved. It's going to be pretty cool seeing his jersey every time we step into this building."

Fans left the arena with a commemorative Phil Chenier cut out. Phil Chenier left the arena with his number retired. The experience was, according to the man himself, everything he thought it'd be. 

"You don’t know what the emotions are going to be..." he told media members after the ceremony."...Obviously it’s something I thought about, but it really was exciting to see the 45 up there and my name."

Then Chenier cracked a smile.

"I’m glad it’s over with."

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Wizards lose again, this time to Nuggets as offense falls flat

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Wizards lose again, this time to Nuggets as offense falls flat

The Washington Wizards lost to the Denver Nuggets 108-100 on Friday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Another loss: It is becoming more and more clear that the Wizards need a shot in the arm, something to change the direction of where they are currently heading.

Whether that will come in the form of All-Star point guard John Wall returning from his months-long absence, an adjustment to their lineup or strategy, or something else entirely, the losses are piling up and at a tough time in the season.

With another loss on Friday night, their seventh in their last 11 games, the Wizards are now 40-32. They have plenty of room to still clinch a playoff berth, as their magic number stands at two, but they only have 10 games left to secure their all-important playoff seed.

Both the Pacers and Cavaliers, two teams just ahead of them in the playoff race, won on Friday.

The Wizards lost their second straight game and again offense was their problem. They scored 100 points, six below their season average, and committed 17 turnovers.

Big third quarter: The Denver Nuggets have emerged as a team on the rise, a young squad with burgeoning stars that could someday soon make some noise in the Western Conference. The reason is because they are very good on offense. Defense is a much different story.

That was not the case on Friday night, as the Wizards had all sorts of trouble scoring in three of their four quarters. They managed just 43 points by halftime, the fewest the Nuggets have allowed in a first half since Jan. 27.

The Wizards, though, did get cooking in the third quarter. They erupted for 33 points in the frame while shooting 63.2 percent from the field and 58.3 percent from three. Markieff Morris, who finished with 17, had 11 points in the third quarter and Bradley Beal (24 points) hit three threes.

The Wizards also found a solution for Jamal Murray, one of the Nuggets' brightest young stars. He had 20 points at halftime, but went scoreless in nine minutes in the third quarter. Kelly Oubre, Jr. (15 points) was among those who gave him trouble. Murry finished with 25.

The big third quarter reflected well on the Wizards' ability to make adjustments, but their 24-point fourth quarter flipped the script again.


Didn't force mistakes: The first time these teams squared off back in October, the Wizards forced the Nuggets into 23 turnovers. This game was a very different story. 

The Nuggets didn't commit their first turnover until midway through the second quarter and had only three by halftime. They had just 10 turnovers for the game.

Denver deserves some credit for limiting their mistakes, but all of it did not reflect well on the Wizards' defense. They didn't put enough pressure on the ball and failed to disrupt passing lanes like they usually do. It was uncharacteristic, as the Wizards entered the game 10th in average turnovers forced.

Not creating mistakes allowed the Nuggets to get way to many field goal attempts. Though they shot just 43.5 percent, Denver managed 108 points. And not getting turnovers offered the Wizards few opportunities for easy transition buckets.

Turnovers were one issue with the Wizards' defense. So was defending the perimeter, as the Nuggets shot 17-for-34 (50%) from long range. It is worth noting the Nuggets were without their leading scorer Gary Harris, a guy who is dangerous from long range.


Special night: Halftime offered a memorable moment in franchise history as legendary player and broadcast Phil Chenier had his No. 45 jersey retired by the team. His longtime broadcaster and friend Steve Buckhantz hosted the ceremony with about 20 friends and family members of Chenier's seated behind him. Buckhantz had opening comments, then majority owner Ted Leonsis spoke as everyone in the crowd stood and cheered.

Then, it was Chenier's time to talk. He thanked his former teammates, members of the organization and those close to him. He kept his composure until the very end when he brought up his mother, Peggy, who could not make the event. Chenier choked up and wiped away tears as he described what she has meant to him in his life.

It was a powerful moment and a great ceremony to honor a guy who has impacted the lives of many in the D.C. area. Now, his No. 45 will hang up in the rafters forever. That banner, by the way, features a picture of a microphone and the phrase '33 years,' signifying how long he was the color analyst for Bullets and Wizards games.


Up next: The Wizards do not have a game Saturday, though they are going to practice and Wall is expected to take a big step forward in his rehab. Their next game is Sunday at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington when they host the Knicks. That will also be a special game, as the Wizards are set to honor the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship.

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