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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.


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.


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It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

The Wizards crossed off an important goal on Saturday night by beating the Indiana Pacers and therefore securing the season series. If the teams tie with the same regular season record, the Wizards will get the higher playoff seed. As of today, that would mean home court advantage in the first round.

Though the Wizards have beaten the Pacers in two of their three matchups this season, we only know so much about how they would match up in the playoffs. The first game between them didn't feature Pacers All-Star Victor Oladipo and John Wall didn't play in any of the three games. The Pacers were without both Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis on Saturday night.

Given the Pacers underwent so much change over the summer, there is no real data to go off of from before this season. They are a completely different team with Oladipo leading the way and Paul George now in Oklahoma City.


There are reasons to believe, however, that the Wizards would fare well against the Pacers over the course of a seven-game series. For one, they figured out how to slow Oladipo and his teammate Bojan Bogdanovic on Saturday night. Both had killed the Wizards in previous matchups.

Oladipo was held to 18 points, over five points below his season average of 23.5. He had four turnovers, shot 7-for-16 (43.7%) and finished a -18 in a game the Pacers lost by seven.

The Wizards had some success with Tomas Satoransky guarding Oladipo. Satoransky is 6-foot-7 with long arms. He was able to recover on several occasions to alter Oladipo's shots.

Satoransky and Bradley Beal also did a good job keeping pace with Oladipo on the fastbreak. The Pacers had only four fastbreak points in the game. Oladipo is especially dangerous in the open court.

“We just made sure that we were aggressive with him and made sure he saw a lot of bodies in the paint," Beal said. "The last game, he got a lot of easy ones in transition. We just made sure that we got back on the shot, loaded to the ball and forced the other guys to attack.”

For Bogdanovic, it was about limiting open shots from the perimeter. Bogdanovic had 11 points, three below his season average and had four turnovers. Beal and Otto Porter stripped Bogdanovic for steals and Marcin Gortat took a charge on one play in the third quarter.


But it was all about taking away the outside shot. Bogdanovic only hit one shot in the first half and it was a three. The only reason he got it off is because Kelly Oubre, Jr. lost his balance backing up. That gave Bogdanovic the window he needed. Otherwise, Oubre helped frustrate the former Wizards small forward. So did Gortat and Ian Mahinmi, who did a good job covering their teammates off screens.

The Pacers are an average offensive team, ranking 16th in points per game and 14th in offensive rating. They are better defensively, ranking ninth-best in opponents points per game and 12th in defensive efficiency.

If the Wizards can limit Oladipo and Bogdanovic, the Pacers' two leading scorers, they should have a good shot at beating the Pacers in the playoffs. Beyond them, the Pacers are thin in the scoring department. Turner only averages 13.6 points and no one else beyond him can consistently make an opposing defense pay for mistakes. Conversely, several Wizards players have given the Pacers major trouble through three games this season.

Gortat, who had 18 points and eight rebounds on Saturday, has averaged 13 points and eight rebounds on 57.7 percent shooting against Indiana. Kelly Oubre, Jr., who had 16 points in 18 minutes, has averaged 15.5 points and is shooting 50 percent from the field.


In addition to those guys, Markieff Morris, Porter, Mike Scott, Mahinmi and Satoransky are all shooting over 50 percent against the Pacers. Satoransky is shooting 71.4 percent through three games.

The Wizards have the pieces to counter what the Pacers do best. Indiana is seventh in three-point percentage, but the Wizards are the best team in basketball in opponents three-point percentage. The Pacers are built around an All-Star guard, but the Wizards have two All-Star guards. The Pacers have a collection of talented wing players, but so do the Wizards.

"Hypothetically, I do like Indiana," Beal said. "I like how we match up with Indiana and I feel like there is a lot of stuff that we can take advantage of. In a lot of categories, I think we can win them."

Add it all up and the Wizards have every reason to feel confident if they see the Pacers in the posteason. Keep that in mind because they very well could meet up in the spring.

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

Here are five plays or moments from the Wizards' 109-102 win over the Pacers on Saturday night that are worth revisiting... 

1. The Wizards took care of business against the Pacers on Saturday night and in doing so earned an important advantage in the playoff race. They won the season series and therefore own a tiebreaker for playoff seeding and currently that would mean home court advantage in the first round if the playoffs began today.

The Wizards took control early and part of that effort were five first-half assists by Bradley Beal. He ended up with 19 points, but some of his best plays were passes.

On this one, he executed a perfect pick-and-roll with Marcin Gortat:


2. This was another pretty pass to Gortat. Tomas Satoransky, who had 12 points and eight assists, fed Gortat with a nice reach-around pass on a play that featured some impressive ball movement overall:

3. This was a great moment. The Wizards had a member of the military surprise his niece on the court. She literally did not see it coming:


4. These last two plays are dunks by Kelly Oubre, Jr., who finished with 16 points. On this play, he cut through the and threw down with authority:

5. This dunk was set up by a beautiful pass from Ramon Sessions. It traveled about three-quarters of the court and Oubre did the rest:

The Wizards now have three days off before their next game as they sit fourth in the Eastern Conference. Things are trending positive for the Wizards as the playoff race heats up.

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