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Wizards-Hawks: What happened and what's next


Wizards-Hawks: What happened and what's next

Things happened in the Washington Wizards' 82-81 Game 5 loss to the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday night. Some good, but ultimately, no. The Hawks now lead 3-2 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series. Some initial thoughts on some of those things and a look at what we'll be talking about heading into Game 6.

Final score

Hawks' Al Horford and Kyle Korver work a pick on the left wing. Nene initially steps toward the corner and Korver on the switch, but turns immediately inside with Dennis Schroder attacking the basket. Beal, with his back to the play, instinctively moves back toward Korver, the man he's been glued to all series. That scenario left Horford free to roam. Nene cleared out Paul Millsap for rebounding position under the basket. He waits on the floor for the rebound, but apparently is unaware that Horford is racing toward the rim. Unchallenged, the Hawks big man does jump, yanks the carom from the pack, settles and scores. Maybe a half-second box out by Beal or a Nene leap keeps Horford away. Maybe.

Clutch knows clutch

Paul Pierce didn't have a dynamic game from start to finish, but once again the "Truth" showed up in the end, burying the go-ahead 3-pointer from the left corner with 8.3 seconds left. Horford then countered with the game-winning layup. Appropriate these two made the final baskets.

Unsung villian

Dennis Schroder has been something of a Wizards killer all season, including Games 3 and 4 of this series. After a slow start in the first half, the guard with speed and no fear began finding a groove in the third quarter. In the fourth, Schroder's consecutive baskets capped Atlanta's 15-3 run for a 78-73 lead with 2:29 left. Even though he missed his final layup attempt, his aggressive drive sucked in the defense and allowed Horford room for the putback.

Center exchange

Marcin Gortat and Nene split minutes in the fourth quarter, but it was the big Brazilian on the court for the final play. Wittman went for the better defender on the perimeter in case of switches (which happened) rather than the better rim protector and rebounder. Before lashing out at Nene for Horford's final basket or Wittman for the decision, worth noting Gortat had the worst defensive rating (90.9 points per 100 possessions) on the team. Also note Gortat was 7 of 10 from the field, but it was Nene (4 for 11) wildly missing a short layup attempt with 95 seconds left and Wizards down two.

Backup plan

Atlanta used Schroder and starter Jeff Teague together for chunks of Game 4. In Game, 5, Schroder played 10 minutes in the fourth quarter -- almost double the amount of Teague, who had a season-high seven turnovers. That's an interesting and ultimately successful decision by coach Mike Budenholzer to sit his All-Star guard. [Update - Per Budenholzer to reporters, Teague said," leave (Dennis) in" because Schroder was making plays.]

No backup plan

Wizards coach Randy Wittman basically used six players, meaning the starters and Otto Porter. Drew Gooden (0 for 4 field goals) and Ramon Sessions played less than 12 minutes combined in the second half. Gooden played a scoreless 12 minutes, his fewest amount of time in the playoffs. While his stretch-4 skill set make him a good rotation fit in this series, he appears gassed (1-10 combined last two games from the field). The Wizards are playing for their playoff lives Friday. There might not be enough time to fill up Gooden's tank. Meanwhile, Kevin Seraphin and Kris Humphries are rested.


Horford finished with 23 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks. He doesn't receive national attention, but there might not be a more valuable player for their team. If you need proof, look at the difference in the Hawks last season when Horford missed most of the season with an injury and this season. Reminder: Atlanta won the East with ease.


No doubt my colleague J. Michael will write chapter and verse about John Wall over the next 48 hours, but couldn't go without mentioning his performance. Still hard to believe that Wall played in Game 5. Everyone knows the deal. Five fractures in his left hand and wrist. Supposedly he didn't start dribbling with his injured mitt until Tuesday. Sat out the previous three games. Yet Wall courageously ran the break, hit floaters, blocked shots, dove on the court for loose balls and handled the ball 107 times according to NBA.com.

This wasn't breakneck speed Wall. This was geometry Wall. Whether going for a layup or trying to prevent one, he maneuvered his body into position while trying to protect his hand rather than his usual approach of bypassing caution.

Wall did commit five of his six turnovers and miss seven of nine shots in the second half. Defensively he looked to avoid contact, often choosing a path for blocked shots instead of blocking drivers with this body. Schroder's final drive went hard toward Wall. The Wizards' star did swat the layup attempt with his right hand, but allowed Schroder to penetrate all the way to the rim, which set off the chain of events. Incredibly gutsy effort regardless. The heroic effort won't be forgotten anytime soon, but it would have taken on mythic levels with a win.

MORE WIZARDS: Pierce's mouth outruns game clock in Game 5 loss

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Wizards take out Sixers to tie season series behind Kelly Oubre and Otto Porter's hot shooting

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Wizards take out Sixers to tie season series behind Kelly Oubre and Otto Porter's hot shooting

The Washington Wizards beat the Philadelphia 76ers 109-94 on Sunday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Playoff implications: Later in the season the stakes are raised and the Wizards' win over the Sixers on Sunday night could loom large in just a few weeks.

By beating the Sixers, who had won seven straight entering the matchup, the Wizards tied up the season series with their second win. A loss would have handed Philly the tiebreaker in playoff seeding if the two teams finish with the same record at season's end.

Now that their season series is over and locked even, it will come down to their record against other Eastern Conference teams if they tie. At 22-15 vs. the East, the Wizards currently have the edge on the Sixers, who are 18-14 in that category.

The Wizards dominated the Sixers for much of the night and they did so by once again moving the ball with generosity and precision. They had 35 assists on 43 field goals. The Wizards have had 30 or more assists in five games this season and four have come within the last month.

Those four games have been part of a 9-3 surge for the Wizards since John Wall got injured. With their win against Philly, the Wizards moved to 35-25 on the season and a half-game out of third in the East. The Sixers are among several teams nipping at their heels in an increasingly crowded conference.


Oubre put on a show: The Wizards led 67-48 at halftime and that was in large part due to Kelly Oubre, Jr.'s impact on both ends of the floor. He had eight points in each of the first two quarters, including four threes, and made several key plays on defense.

Oubre had three blocks to set a career-high by halftime, including one on Robert Covington that bounced off Covington's leg and gave the Wizards possession. He also took a charge on Ben Simmons and flashed a smile for the cameras as he sprinted back down the floor.

Oubre ended the game with 19 points on 6-for-11 shooting. It wasn't long ago that Oubre was in a significant shooting slump.

In his last 11 games before the All-Star break, Oubre was averaging just 9.4 points on 31.2 percent shooting. In three games since the break, Oubre has scored 47 points (15.7/g) while shooting 51.5 percent. It's safe to say he's put those shooting struggles behind him.

Oubre had been making his mark defensively as the Wizards closed the first half on a tear, but Sunday showed how much of a boost he can provide when he's in a rhythm offensively. He completely changed the game and helped the Wizards knock off a team that came to Washington super hot.

Porter wasn't fazed: Otto Porter did something on Sunday that likely has never been accomplished before. He hit not one, not two, not three but four buzzer-beaters all in the first half. Three of them were to beat the shot clock. Then, he hit another one to end the first half:

That shot capped an 8-1 run to end the second quarter for the Wizards and it brought a burst of energy out of the crowd. Porter had 14 points in the second quarter and shot 6-for-6 in the frame. The Wizards outscored the Sixers 37-20 in the second and Porter led the charge.

Porter finished with 23 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Much like Bradley Beal, who had 24 points in this game, Porter has thrived in this second extended absence for Wall. Both Beal and Porter battle inconsistency as they adapted to being the primary focus of opposing teams back in November when Wall first went down. But this time around, they have answers to everything teams are throwing at them.

Porter's patience at the end of the shot clock on Sunday was an example of that. His confidence seems to be at an all-time high, knowing he has enough tricks to keep his opponents guessing. That was on display with under two minutes to go when he drained a three in Covington's face, turned around to stare at him afterwards and then shook his head as he trotted down the court, as if he were saying that no one can stop him. 

Up next: The Wizards are off Monday before playing back-to-back games on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Bucks and Warriors. Tuesday is an 8 p.m. tipoff on TNT. We will have pre- and postgame coverage of Wizards-Bucks on NBC Sports Washington Plus beginning at 7 p.m.


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Dan Fegan, former agent for John Wall, dies in car crash

Photo by Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Caravan

Dan Fegan, former agent for John Wall, dies in car crash

NBA agent Dan Fegan, who had previously represented many high-profile NBA clients including John Wall, died in a car crash Sunday morning, according to The Aspen Times. 

According to the report, Fegan's SUV was struck by a bus while trying to merge onto Highway 82 in Colorado a little after 9 am this morning. 

The two passengers in the car - an unidentified woman and Fegan's 5-year old daughter - were airlifted to a nearby hospital with serious injuries. 

Fegan was 56.