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Wizards' late rally fails in 94-91 loss to Raptors: Five takeaways


Wizards' late rally fails in 94-91 loss to Raptors: Five takeaways

The last time the Wizards met the Toronto Raptors, Cory Joseph hit the game-winning basket from the corner. Wednesday, with two chances on clean looks from deep to send the game into overtime, the Wizards misfired as they lost to their nemesis again to end 2015 with a 14-16 record.

Otto Porter (20 points, nine rebounds) and John Wall (19 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds, five steals) each had open looks that didn't go down as time expired at Air Canada Centre.

Out of a timeout, Jared Dudley (17 points) knocked down a corner three on a feed from Wall to pull the Wizards to 92-91 with 40 seconds left in a game they hadn't led since it was 13-12.  After DeMar DeRozan, who shot 9 of 24, missed on Toronto's next possession Dudley had another chance with an open three but missed.

DeRozan (34 points) tied his season high as he made 15 of 15 free throws. The next highest scorer for the Raptors (20-13) was Terrence Ross (14 points) off the bench. Kyle Lowry (11 points) was held to 2 of 12 shooting and had six turnovers.

  • The defense that was lacking in Monday's 17-point loss to the L.A. Clippers was back for Washington. Toronto only shot 28 of 82 (34%), including 6 of 24 on threes (25%). Where the Wizards were lacking was defensive rebounding. They allowed the Raptors to grab 15 offensive boards which was why they had a 39-17 edge in free-throw attempts. Biyombo and Jonas Valanciunas each had five offensive rebounds.

  • Porter returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Dec. 16 when stiffness in his left knee was a byproduct of a deep thigh bruise. His production what the Wizards need with Bradley Beal out. In particular, he was 3 of 5 from three which has been his Achilles heel all season. He's 6 of 10 in two games since returning. Porter had been shooting less than 30% from long range.

  • Gortat picked up his fourth foul on an offensive rebound by Biyombo with 4:15 left in the third quarter and sent him to the foul line. What had been a one-possession game when the Wizards came out of halftime with an 11-2 run, was back to 64-55. Gortat shot just 5 of 15 en route to 12 points and nine rebounds. But only two points and three rebounds came from him in playing 16-plus minutes in the second half. 

  • That Garrett Temple is 6 of 24 shooting in his last three games and Kelly Oubre is 3 of 9 is to be expected. Oubre, a rookie, has seen his time dwindle with Porter's return, which it should as long as Porter continues to play well. It's harder to get into a rhythm when playing spot minutes for a 19-year-old. Temple's offensive outbursts are complementary to the offense, not the focal point for the Wizards so he's not going to drop 20 a night each time. But he was key in the poor shooting performance by the Raptors' backcourt (11 of 36).

  • Lowry is one of four guards ahead of Wall in the All-Star voting in the East. No doubt Wall had extra motivation to play better -- and he did -- and late in the game he was matched with DeRozan and defended him perfectly. Wall, however, was called for a foul on what looked like a clean block of DeRozan on a jump shot. The foul shots made the score 92-88.

[RELATED: Do Wizards stick with Kelly Oubre over Otto Porter?]

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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


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Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

As if they needed a reminder, the Wizards saw firsthand on Wednesday night just how much can change in a short period of time in the Eastern Conference playoff race where just two games separate the No. 3 and No. 6 teams.

That No. 6 team is now your Washington Wizards, who began the day in fourth place but lost their first game in four days on the same night both the Cavs and Sixers won theirs. 

The Wizards lost to the Spurs on Wednesday and managed only 90 points, their fewest since Jan. 22. It was a lackluster performance in a game the Wizards needed to treat with urgency. 

The Spurs sure did.

"We've gotta have a better mentality coming into games," guard Bradley Beal said. "The Spurs were fighting for playoff seeding just like we were."

The Wizards have now lost six of their last 10, yet all those games have come against teams currently holding playoff spots. Considering John Wall remains out with a left knee injury, it's hard to fault them too much when they are staying afloat just fine in the big picture.


The problem is that the closer they get to the end of the season, the more these losses are magnified. They amount to missed opportunities, some bigger than others.

That was not lost on Beal, who considered the alternative. If the Wizards had beaten the Spurs, they would be sitting in fourth, two spots higher, and just a game-and-a-half out of third.

"Every time we have a chance to move up, we take two steps back," Beal lamented.

The Wizards are in a high stakes part of the standings where plenty is in the balance. They are fighting for home-court advantage, something they would get in the third or fourth spots. And who they match up with will be paramount.


By falling to sixth, the Wizards are currently in line to play the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though the Pacers and Sixers are also good teams, they don't have LeBron James. Avoiding him and the Cavs would be ideal for the Wizards.

Beal has even bigger worries than that. He noted after the loss in San Antonio that they could fall even further if they aren't careful. They are now just a game-and-a-half up on the seventh-place Heat. 

"We've gotta realize what's at stake, man. The way we're going, we could keep dropping and mess around and be eighth. We've gotta do whatever it takes to win," he said.

The Wizards should be fine if the previous two months are any indication. But Wednesday night was another example of how precarious things are for them this season in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference.


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