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Mike Scott a bright spot for Wizards with John Wall out

Mike Scott a bright spot for Wizards with John Wall out

The Wizards this season have been notable for their inconsistency and that has been even more evident in the last eight games with John Wall injured. The same team that notched wins against the Timberwolves, Blazers and Pistons lost to the Blake Griffin-less Clippers and by 47 points to the under-.500 Utah Jazz.

Perhaps ironically, given results of the past several years, the one mainstay while Wall has been out has been the Wizards' bench. With the team's best player out, the Wizards' much-maligned second unit has collectively upped their game. 

In the last eight games without Wall, the Wizards' bench is scoring 41.5 points in 20.9 minutes per game with a +1.4 rating. All of those rank in the top 10 in the NBA during that span. For the season they are much more average with 34.1 points (10th) and 18.2 minutes (18th) per game and a net rating of -0.2 (15th).

In the Wizards' four wins without Wall since his latest injury, their bench has scored 40.8 points per game on 50.4 percent shooting from the field and 43.6 percent from three. They have been +8.3 as a group.

The bench in Wall's absence has seen a host of contributors step up in different games. Tomas Satoransky, Kelly Oubre, Jr., Jodie Meeks and Ian Mahinmi have had their moments. But in the last three games, two of them wins, backup forward Mike Scott has been the standout.

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Scott has 40 points on 17-for-19 shooting from the field and 4-for-5 from three-point range in his last three outings. That's to go along with 16 rebounds and five assists. His 22 points against the Clippers on Saturday were his most in a game since April of 2014.

Scott, 29, joined the Wizards as a reclamation project in the offseason on a one-year, prove-it deal. So far that signing has been a positive. At his best, Scott provides an important scoring punch off the bench.

There have been some off-nights and some games where minutes aren't offered by head coach Scott Brooks. But overall, Scott's consistency scoring the ball has a nice boost for the Wizards. He has reached double-figures in points 10 times this season off the Wizards' bench. Only Oubre has more (13) this year and only three Wizards players - Oubre, Bojan Bogdanovic and Jason Smith - had more double-figure scoring games off the bench all of last season.

Scott is putting up some of the best numbers of his six-year NBA career. He's shooting career-highs from the field (54.9%) and three-point range (41.9%) and his 8.3 points per game are his most since the 2013-14 season. 

Some nights it's easy to tell early when Scott is in rhythm. He often scores quickly once he checks in, mixing midrange jumpers and fadeaways with a dose of quick-release threes. This season Scott is shooting 40 percent on corner threes, 53.3 percent on midrange shots from three to 10 feet, 69.2 percent from 10 to 16 feet and 58.5 percent from 16 feet to the three-point line.

The Wizards didn't have an efficient scorer off their bench at this point last season. In Scott, they appear to have one and he comes at the reasonable price of a veteran minimum contract.

[RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS]

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After lopsided loss to Hornets, Scott Brooks says changes will be made for Wizards

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After lopsided loss to Hornets, Scott Brooks says changes will be made for Wizards

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks is a master at keeping his composure when addressing the media, even if it's clear he has just calmed down from ripping into his team. But after Wednesday night's 133-109 loss to the Charlotte Hornets in which they gave up a season-high in points, Brooks was about as blunt as he has been when discussing his team publicly since taking over in Washington.

Brooks seethed as he called out his team. He didn't mention names, but hinted he's lost patience and is ready to shake things up.

"We have to change some things," he said. "We’ve gotta find guys that will compete."

Brooks has said similar things in the past, but this time it seemed different and guard Bradley Beal confirmed as much moments later.

"He’s pissed," Beal said of Brooks. "He’s upset. He’s mad. We’re not giving him what he wants from a production standpoint. He’s going to make a change for sure. That’s pretty much all I can say. He was beyond furious after the game. Guys should be ready, a lot of guys should expect to play and not play. That was pretty much his message."

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Brooks is limited in the changes he can make with the Wizards' current roster construction. John Wall and Beal are safe in the starting lineup. Though they are just as guilty as others at times on the defensive end, they are each having All-Star seasons. Otto Porter is signed to a max contract and when healthy provides value in many areas of the game.

The most obvious option for Brooks would be to insert Kelly Oubre, Jr. into the starting lineup. Oubre began the season as a starter with Markieff Morris sidelined due to sports hernia surgery and the Wizards' three best lineups this season based on plus-minus rating all include Oubre.

Their best lineup in net rating with a sample size of 100 minutes or more has Oubre alongside Porter, Wall, Beal and Marcin Gortat. That group was +17.8 in 192:51 entering Wednesday night's game.

The Wizards have also had success in the past two seasons with Oubre in there alongside Wall, Beal, Porter and Morris. That small-ball group has produced dividends particularly on the defensive end.

If Oubre were to be inserted into the starting lineup, it will not be an easy call picking who to remove. Porter is the Wizards' third-best player and both Morris and Gortat play valuable and specific roles when at their best.

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There are also egos at play. Guys like Porter, Morris and Gortat are used to being NBA starters. Pushing them to the bench would require a difficult conversation. 

Morris and Gortat going to the bench would create uneven spots in the Wizards' rotation. Unless he's replaced by Ian Mahinmi, Gortat on the bench would give the Wizards two centers of similar ilk who can't coexist in the second unit. If Oubre were swapped in for Morris, the Wizards would have a power forward logjam on the bench with no obvious backup small forward to spell Oubre and Porter.

Another option for Brooks would be to slide backup power forward Mike Scott into the starting lineup. He has been one of the Wizards' most efficient scorers this season and a standout on their bench.

The Wizards could of course change the dynamic with a trade, but that's unlikely to happen immediately with the trade deadline still three weeks away. The Wizards do not have anything imminent in the works, as their hope has been to patiently evaluate their roster leading up to the deadline like in years past.

At some point, a deal may have to happen but for now Brooks is going to have to figure it out with the group he has. Like Beal said, it's coming. We just don't know which direction he will go or how drastic it will be.

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Wizards blown out by Hornets as tempers flare in fight between teams

Wizards blown out by Hornets as tempers flare in fight between teams

The Washington Wizards lost to the Charlotte Hornets 133-109 on Wednesday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Defense was atrocious: The Wizards have had some ugly defensive performances this season and often at unexpected times against teams they had no business losing to. Their loss to the Hornets on Wednesday may top them all.

Yes, head coach Scott Brooks will not be happy after this one. The Hornets, who entered the game 17th in the NBA in points per game (105.0) and 21st in offensive rating, set forth a scoring barrage never before seen in their franchise history. They had 38 points in the first quarter and a franchise-record 77 points at halftime. Those 77 points were the most allowed by the Wizards in one half since Dec. 17, 2006. That was the game Gilbert Arenas dropped 60 points on Kobe Bryant and the Lakers at the Staples Center. Good times.

Wednesday night was not good times. The Hornets added 25 points in the third quarter and 29 in the fourth to total 133 for the game. That was a season-high for the Wizards in points allowed.

The numbers are just plain hideous. Dwight Howard had 18 points and 15 rebounds. Kemba Walker dropped 19 points and seven assists. Even the offensively-challenged Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 21 points in 22 minutes. There is no excuse for that.

The Wizards are the best team in basketball at opponent's three-point percentage, but you wouldn't have known it in this game. The Hornets went 15-for-31 for 48.4 percent from long range. 

Get this: the Wizards have now allowed 100 points or more in 16 straight games, which is the longest streak in the NBA this season. Their defense is a disaster right now and there doesn't seem to be an easy answer to fix it.

This was their second straight loss. They have yet to lose three consecutive games this season, but that will be put on the line Friday against the Pistons.

PODCAST: JODIE MEEKS ON HIS SHOOTING SLUMP

Fight night: Frustrations boiled over for the Wizards in the fourth quarter when the two teams got involved in a near fight that required referees and coaches to split up. It all began when Wizards big man Jason Smith and Hornets guard Michael Carter-Williams got tangled on a rebound. Carter-Williams went after Smith and ended up being ejected along with Wizards guard Tim Frazier, who had to be restrained by a referee as he tried to retaliate.

This will likely result in some fines:

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Beal balled out: The defense was an unmitigated disaster, but the Wizards didn't have many issues on the other end of the floor and that effort was led by Bradley Beal. Beal continued his All-Star push with a dominant scoring performance. He had 13 points in his first seven minutes and 20 by halftime. That was on 7-for-11 from the field and 4-for-5 from three.

Beal is such a natural scorer that when he's really on it looks like he's not even trying. He can make it look that easy and that was the case on Wednesday. Beal casually dropped in three-pointers and when the Hornets took that away, he exploded to the rim.

Just look at this play. He made a difficult finish look very easy:

Beal finished with 26 points in 27 minutes, but clearly it wasn't enough..

Bad night for Keef: Markieff Morris stumbled before he could even get started in this one. It took him just 3:21 to pick up two fouls and get sent to the bench. Morris had his third foul midway through the second quarter and his fourth midway through the third.

It wasn't just the fouls that contributed to an off night for Morris. He had just two points in 15 minutes on 1-for-5 shooting. Morris has been a liability on offense in recent games. In his last five outings, he has failed to reach double figures four times. For a starter getting the minutes he's being offered, that is unaccpetable even if he's a secondary option.

Up next: The Wizards are off Thursday before playing at the Detroit Pistons on Friday night. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington Plus.

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