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Takeaways from Wizards' road win over Pelicans

Takeaways from Wizards' road win over Pelicans

It took three quarters for Markieff Morris to wake up and take advantage of the matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans, and when he did he sparked the Wizards for two runs – the latter leading them to a 107-94 win at Smoothie King Center on Sunday.

It was the Wizards’ fourth win in a row, eighth in nine games and their fourth in five road games.

New Orleans (19-29) had trimmed the deficit to 83-80 after Anthony Davis completed a layup and the free throw on the foul and another foul shot after Wizards coach Scott Brooks was assessed a technical.

But the Wizards (27-20) went on an 8-0 that included a three by Morris and Bradley Beal to go up again by double digits. Otto Porter’s third three-pointer and another jumper by Morris sealed it with a 100-88 lead with a little more than three minutes left.

John Wall (18 points, 19 assists) earned his 27th double-double and Marcin Gortat (17 points, 11 rebounds) his 26th double-double. Beal (27 points, six rebounds) and Morris (21 points, eight rebounds) also contributed. Wall's 19 assists tied a career-high.

Anthony Davis (36 points, 17 rebounds) and Jrue Holiday (26 points, 11 assists) led New Orleans in a comeback from an 18-point deficit.  The duo combined to make 26 of 44 shots but didn’t get much help elsewhere. No other starter scored in double figures.

The Wizards are 21-9 since Dec. 1, the best record in that span in the East. They’ve won 9 of 10 vs. the Pelicans.

[RELATED: WATCH: Wall posterizes Davis in Wildcat-on-Wildcat crime]

-- The Morris-Trey Burke combination continues to thrive. Morris scored off two assists from Burke to begin the fourth quarter, including a three-pointer, and he returned the favor to the point guard on a cut to the basket. It helped steady the Wizards with the outcome in the balance.

--The Pelicans were held to 40 points in the first half, only the third time the Wizards kept a team to 40 or less. The previous two times came against the same team – in a Nov. 5 loss vs. the Orlando Magic and 38 on Nov. 25 in a win vs. Orlando. It marked the third consecutive road game an opponent has been held to 48 or less.

--New Orleans is known for switching smalls onto bigs, and vice versa. They allowed Solomon Hill to matchup with Gortat in the low post and Holiday vs. Morris and Buddy Hield vs. Morris. They didn’t make them pay enough early because they rarely finished these chances, though it did allow for Jason Smith’s highlight, one-handed putback dunk on an offensive rebound. Wall took full advantage of when he was guarded at the top of the key on a switch by Donatas Motiejunas. He blew by him for a tomahawk dunk in the first quarter. Wall ended the first half with consecutive jumpers for a 57-40 lead with Motiejunas again stranded at the top of the key. He played so soft, Wall was able to get into a rhythm on his dribble and pull up.

--The defense slacked off to begin the third quarter when Holiday was allowed to step into three-pointers without anyone running at him in transition. They got the lead down to 66-58 with a 7-0 run but the Wizards aided them in the comeback. They turned the ball over in four of their first six possessions out of the locker room, allowing New Orleans to briefly take the lead 73-72 with 49.6 seconds left. It Washington’s first time trailing in a game since 6-5 to the Charlotte Hornets on Jan. 23.

--Davis only scored 27 total points in two meetings with the Wizards last season, but he keyed the run in the third when he made 7 of 10 shots. Davis has played at center since the season began, when Omer Asik had the starting job until falling out of coach Alvin Gentry’s rotation. While Davis can be pushed around by traditional bigs, he’s difficult for them to cover away from the rim. He only had eight points in the first half when the Pelicans were isolation heavy. But they got more motion into their sets and into transition.

[RELATED: Wall beats buzzer again, this time to end 1st half vs. Pelicans]

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Kelly Oubre, Jr. continues to step up for Wizards in series against Raptors

Kelly Oubre, Jr. continues to step up for Wizards in series against Raptors

All along as Kelly Oubre, Jr. wilted from the three-point line down the stretch of the regular season, his head coach Scott Brooks would deflect the attention to other areas of his game. Brooks was sending a message to his young forward that he can still make an impact in other ways, and as long as he did Brooks would overlook the shooting woes.

Through four games in the Wizards-Raptors series, Brooks' mantra with Oubre has proven prescient. Just like the Wizards as a team, Oubre has his swagger back and for him it's had nothing to do with hitting threes.

Oubre was a sparkplug in both Games 3 and 4 as the Wizards earned consecutive victories to send the series back to Toronto locked at 2-2. Game 4 on Sunday night well illustrated just how effective Oubre can be even if he isn't scoring.

Oubre had 10 points and shot 2-for-6 from the field, a modest scoring night. He did everything else well.

Oubre drew two offensive fouls, notched two steals, grabbed give rebounds and dished two assists. He was aggressive attacking the rim and earned seven free throw attempts as his reward.

Oubre was personally most pleased with forcing turnovers. In true Oubre fashion, he offered a unique explanation why.

"Yeah, man. You got to be different. I'm just trying to be different, man. Trying to get extra possessions for my teammates," he said.

Oubre's defense was essential in Game 4. He helped hold DeMar DeRozan to just 10 field goals on 29 attempts. Though DeRozan ended up with 35 points, he needed to attempt 18 free throws to get there.

The Wizards can live with DeRozan scoring a lot of points, even 35, if he shoots 34.5 percent from the field. He also had four turnovers.

Oubre's most important moments came in the final five minutes of the game. Star shooting guard Bradley Beal fouled out with 4:58 remaining and Brooks had nowhere else to turn. Tomas Satoransky's role has been diminished in the playoffs, Ty Lawson gives up size on defense and Jodie Meeks, the primary backup shooting guard for most of the season, is suspended.

Oubre was contributing all night, so Brooks put him in there alongside John Wall, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat. It worked.

Wall scored eight of their final 14 points as the Wizards closed out the victory, but Oubre did several things to help seal it. He hit three free throws, grabbed a rebound and stole the ball from Kyle Lowry with 12 seconds to go and dribbled it out.

Two of Oubre's free throws came with 22.5 seconds left and they extended the Wizards' lead to 104-96. He was fouled in the final second of the shot clock and the Raptors called a timeout, perhaps hoping to ice him.

After the team gathered, Oubre walked to halfcourt to wait for the break to end. Veteran Jason Smith, who did not appear in the game, walked out to chat with him. 

Smith stood next to Oubre and gave him an extended pep talk. He sensed the moment and knew Oubre needed to calm his nerves.

Smith led Oubre through deep breaths to slow everything down. Oubre nodded his head and followed along, then he knocked down both shots.

"I've been there before," Smith said. "I've gotta stay active and impact the game any way I can. That was my little tidbit."

Oubre was clutch for the Wizards when they needed him most and got some sage advice as he helped the Wizards push over the finish line.

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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 game 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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