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Wizards can't get it done in Brooklyn, fall to Nets


Wizards can't get it done in Brooklyn, fall to Nets

Competitive throughout and leading early in the fourth quarter, the Washington Wizards fell behind for good following an Andray Blatche-keyed 13-3 run and lost 98-88 to the Nets in the first game played at the new Barclays Center.

Also new, Emeka Okafor making his Wizards debut. Not new, Bradley Beal showing he belongs and flashing that textbook jumper even though it faltered in the fourth. New, Andray Blatche's slimmer frame. Not new, the 6-foot-11 forward scoring in bunches, though he'd never done so for a team besides the Wizards, until now...

Stats: Martell Webster paced five double-digit scorers with 18 points, sinking all 10 of his free throw opportunities. Beal sank his first three shots and finished with 13 points, followed by 12 each from Okafor and Jordan Crawford. Trevor Ariza added 10 points.

The Wizards dramatically curbed their turnovers, committing only eight. Three came via Shelvin Mack, who went without a turnover during the first three games. Offensively Washington shot 39 percent (32-of-82) from the field while the Nets sank half of their attempts (39-of-78). Center Brook Lopez led the Nets with 18 points while Blatche scored 16.

Beal: Squaring off against the Nets newly acquired All-Star guard Joe Johnson (14 points), the Florida rookie more than held his own on both ends of the court, especially in the first half. Beal expertly came off screens set by Okafor and finished plays with textbook jumpers, showing he is indeed well versed in the art of catch-and-shoot. Not only did he run around Johnson when the Wizards had the ball, Bell hung tough defending the taller guard and noted scorer. As the game progressed, Beal's shot began misfiring - wayward on seven of his final nine attempts - but he played without committing a turnover and grabbed four rebounds.

Crawford: Nobody is going to describe the Wizards other rising third-year guard's game as textbook, but Crawford flashed a much better off-the-ball game than in previous seasons, running off picks and executing offensively. He also made some nice passes, including a touch feed to a streaking Trevor Ariza for a dunk, and committed only one turnover. After the fast break dish, Phil Chenier said on-air, "I tell you what, it's fun watching Jordan Crawford play, just play basketball." Simple point, but one understood by anyone who's watched the volume shooter's wild play the past two seasons.

Blatche: Come on, we knew this was coming. Looking svelte (one on-site estimate had him down 20 pounds since we last saw him) after his Wizards era ended with a string of DNP-conditioning, Blatche ran the court and muscled his way past Washington's big men, knocking down 8-of-13 shots with eight rebounds in 23 minutes. The can guy score, he had motivation facing his old team and for a good chunk of the game the Wizards had Shavlik Randolph and Earl Barron on the court. Perfect storm, Blatche took advantage of it, scoring 10 points in the fourth including the go-ahead putback with 8:45 left that gave Brooklyn the lead for good at 77-76.

Okafor: The veteran center, who missed the previous game with food poisoning, played 28 minutes and finished with six rebounds while making 6-of-11 shots. Of his first five attempts, three came within the basket's shadow. He made all three, including a nice hook. The other attempts came from the foul line area. They missed and not in a "in-and-out" kind of way. Okafor also missed all four of his free throw attempts. This is essentially what you can look forward from him offensively. Ideally, Okafor stays around the rim and lets Nene and Kevin Seraphin handle the 10-15 footers. Of course...

And the bonus...Nene and Seraphin both missed the game, leaving the primary center minutes to Okafor. Seraphin, who suffered a calf injury five minutes into Saturday's win at Cleveland, is also out for the Wizards game Wednesday at Toronto. Chris Singleton (right shoulder contusion) sat out for the second straight game. Guess it also needs to be said, John Wall did not play...Jan Vesely showed some of that assertive game his coach is looking for, but he also committed five fouls and was scoreless in 27 minutes...New York native A.J. Price (five points) committed a hard foul on Deron Williams in the final minute after losing the ball on the other end following contact. Based on the postgame chatter, this should be an interesting matchup to watch when the teams next hook up - assuming Price is on the court. Yes, the Wizards point guard battle remains in flux.

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Wizards have to find a way to stop DeMar DeRozan to climb back in series

Wizards have to find a way to stop DeMar DeRozan to climb back in series

The Toronto Raptors' best player has become a serious problem for the Washington Wizards, as they now face a 3-2 series deficit and the bleak reality that one more loss means their season is over.

DeMar DeRozan, who began this first round series with a modest 17 points in Game 1, has since raised his game to a new level to beyond even what we have seen in the past. In Games 2-5, DeRozan has averaged 31.8 points, including his 32-game outburst in Game 5 that tilted the series in Toronto's favor.

DeRozan is averaging 28.8 points through five games against the Raptors. That's up considerably from his 22.5-point career playoff average.

DeRozan scored his 32 points in Game 5 with efficiency. He shot 12-for-24 from the field and even made three of his four shots from three.

He didn't even need the free throw line like he normally does. DeRozan shot six free throws, less than his regular season average.

The Wizards are having trouble with DeRozan particularly in the first half. DeRozan is averaging 14.8 first-half points during the playoffs, second only to LeBron James. 

DeRozan had 20 points by halftime in Game 5.

"DeMar was in his element tonight," forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. said. "He got it going early. It was kind of hard to shut him off."

The Wizards are paying for disrespecting DeRozan's three-point shot. He shot just 31.2 percent from long range in the regular season, but is shooting threes at a 45.5 percent clip in the playoffs.

If DeRozan is knocking them down from outside, his offensive game is as complete as just about anyone in the NBA. He has shown in this series an impressive ability to not only get to the rim, but finish through contact or draw fouls.

DeRozan does a good job of maintaining body and ball control going straight up against Wizards' big men and is often rewarded by the referees. He shot a playoff career-high 18 free throws in Game 4.

The Wizards are actually doing a decent job of taking away his midrange shots, which usually account for much of his points. Though DeRozan is hitting an impressive 66.7 percent from 5-to-9 feet, up from his season clip of 47.6, his numbers are down from further out.

DeRozan is shooting 40 percent from 10-to-14 feet out, down from 41.5 percent in the regular season, and just 28.6 percent from 15-to-19 feet, down from 43.7.

DeRozan is hurting the Wizards from long range and within nine feet of the rim. He is taking what the Wizards are giving him and Washington has to adjust.

"We’ve gotta pretty much get it out of [his] hands. Make sure we take care of everybody else," Oubre said.

The Wizards should look to how the defended him in Game 4 as a good example of how to limit his impact. DeRozan had 35 points, but required 29 shots from the field and 18 free throws to get there. 

Washington forced DeRozan into an inefficient night and forced others to try to beat them. The result was the Wizards' best defensive game overall, as the Raptors scored a series-low 98 points.

DeRozan isn't the only defensive concern for the Wizards as they look ahead to Game 6 on Friday. Backup point guard Delon Wright scored 18 points for the second time this series and Toronto hit 11 threes in the game.

The Wizards held the Raptors to just seven threes in Game 4 and it was no coincidence they won that game. They have to lock down the perimeter and, as this series has shown, that includes DeRozan even though he isn't known for making threes.

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Wizards go cold late to drop Game 5, as Raptors take 3-2 series lead

Wizards go cold late to drop Game 5, as Raptors take 3-2 series lead

The Washington Wizards lost to the Toronto Raptors 108-98 in Game 5 of their first round playoff series on Wednesday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Ice cold: When the Wizards needed it most, their offense failed them. With John Wall running the show, they can traditionally score with the best of them. But from the 4:05 mark in the fourth quarter, they went scoreless for a stretch of three minutes and 49 seconds.

Meanwhile, the Raptors converted turnovers into points to close the game on a 14-5 run. The Wizards shot brick after brick from long range and missed 11 of their last 15 shots. It was a shocking collapse in a game that had been going well for the Wizards.

By beating the Wizards in Game 5, the Raptors took a 3-2 series lead which historically means they have nearly an 83 percent chance of winning the series. Those aren't good odds for the Wizards, who can look at one area of the court to blame.

The Wizards made only five threes on 26 attempts. The Raptors, conversely, went 11-for-25 (44%) from the perimeter. The Wizards' five threes were their fewest in a game since Jan. 12.

DeRozan was a killer: As has been the case this entire series, DeMar DeRozan led the charge for Toronto. The perennial All-Star came out on fire with 20 points in the first half alone.

This time, it wasn't just free throws. He was 4-for-4 at the half, but 7-for-13 from the field and 2-for-2 from three. Usually, threes aren't his game.

DeRozan kept it up in the second half to score 32 points on 12-of-24 from the field. That's a pretty efficient night.

Otto looked a bit hurt: Otto Porter, who was held to nine points and four rebounds, didn't appear to be moving very well. He was running around with a limp, which suggests his right lower leg strain is still bothering him.

Head coach Scott Brooks said last week that Porter is 100 percent, but that doesn't seem like the case, unless there was some sort of setback in the time since. Porter, however, is such a smart player and such a good shooter that he can still make the most of his time on the court.

Solid start: The Wizards aren't used to playing well in the first quarter this series. They entered Game 5 with an average deficit of -7.2 points in the first quarter. In this game, however, they led by one point after one.

That was thanks to a buzzer-beater by John Wall (26 points, nine assists, nine rebounds). Ian Mahinmi got the offensive rebound and it set up Wall for a last-second shot. He got to one of his spots and sent it in:

It was just the second time in five games this series that the Wizards have been leading after one. The other time was Game 3, when the Wizards beat the Raptors handily to earn their first win.

The Wizards, though, couldn't finish. They also couldn't protect the ball. At least Wall couldn't, as he committed seven turnovers, one short of his playoff career-high.

Backup PGs: The Raptors again played without point guard Fred VanVleet, their best bench player and a guy who is arguably one of the best backup point guards in basketball. The loss has been evident for the most part, despite his replacement Delon Wright doing a solid job, including with 18 points in Game 5.

On Wednesday, Washington's backup point guard also shined. Despite not playing a single game during the regular season, Ty Lawson continues to make smart plays and create scoring opportunities for others.

He had four assists in this game and made one of the best plays of the night. Check out this move he put on to set up Ian Mahinmi:

And this dude was playing in China like two weeks ago? If he keeps this up, there will be an easy case to make that the Wizards should re-sign him for next season.

Clearly, they want Tomas Satoransky to play more off the ball and the coaching staff hasn't gained full trust in him. Lawson and Satoransky could make a solid reserve backcourt if they have some time to develop some chemistry.

Up next: The Wizards and Raptors are back at it on Friday night in Washington for Game 6. The tipoff time has not been announced, but the game will be aired on NBC Sports Washington.

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