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Towns too much as Wizards lose to Wolves, have lost five of last seven

Towns too much as Wizards lose to Wolves, have lost five of last seven

The Washington Wizards lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves 116-111 on Tuesday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Another untimely loss: As they await the impending return of John Wall, the ground is slipping out from under the Wizards. They lost again on Tuesday night, this time to the Timberwolves. That makes five losses in the Wizards' last seven games with only 14 to go.

Of the Wizards' two wins in their last seven, one was against the Pelicans, who were missing Anthony Davis, their best player. As they navigate a tough schedule, the Wizards are showing cracks.

The Wizards had a good opportunity to beat Minnesota, as they led by 10 points in the fourth quarter, 95-85. But the Wolves then clamped down and went on a 20-3 run to take control. They didn't look back.

Wolves All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns was dominant. He had a season-high 37 points on just 17 shots and 10 rebounds. He made a clutch corner three and trapped Bradley Beal (19 points, five assists) into a turnover in the final 30 seconds to help seal the victory.

But still, the Wizards had the advantage before letting it slip away. The Wizards dropped to 38-30 on the season. They are 12-8 since Wall went down, but most of those wins came weeks ago.

PODCAST: KELLY OUBRE ON DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY

Must be the shoes: Wizards forward Markieff Morris made a wardrobe change before facing the Timberwolves. Long known to wear Nike Foamposites, a type of shoe that any sneaker head will tell you has little flexiblity, Morris instead suited up with Jordan 13s. They worked pretty well for him, albeit in a loss.

Morris lit a spark early with nine points in the first quarter and finished with a season-high 27. He shot 10-for-15 and did a good job combating a big and physical T-Wolves frontcourt.

Morris wasn't good the last time out. He had just four points and four rebounds in a loss to the Heat. This game was a completely different story.

Morris got his points in a variety of ways, including three threes. When his shot is falling from long range, the Wizards' entire offense opens up. Just don't call him a stretch-four.

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Paint points: The Wizards had another bad night defending the lane. After giving up 76 points in the paint to Miami, they allowed 64 to the Wolves. Towns led the way, but others got involved.

Nemanja Bjelica, who was starting in place of the injured Jimmy Butler, went off for 17 points and eight rebounds, including some crafty shots around the rim.  He hit a few shots from different release points that was reminiscent of Antawn Jamison's heyday in Washington.

Andrew Wiggins had 16 points on 7-for-14 shooting. Many of his makes were in the lane. Same with Jeff teague, who had 13 points and five assists.

The Wolves had 18 paint points in the first quarter alone and 16 in both the second and third. There was not much the Wizards could do to stop them. Their wings got into the lane at will and Towns and Bjelica consistently got good looks in the post. The Wizards need to figure this out.

Mahinmi bounced back: The last time the Wizards played, on Saturday night against the Miami Heat, Ian Mahinmi didn't see the floor at all. But in this one, he put in an impressive bounceback performance. 

It was clear heading into the game that Mahinmi could play a factor due to his success guarding Towns in the first meeting between the teams, a Wizards win back in November. Mahinmi again matched up with Towns, but Towns got the best of him.

Mahinmi, though, played solid defense for parts of the night, affecting shots and pushing his weight around. He had nine rebounds, two steals and a block.

Offense is where Mahinmi made his biggest impact. He had 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting, including eight points his first 12 minutes. Mahinmi's first half surge included a series of dunks, including this one set up by Mike Scott:

Mahinmi's scoring earned him a noticeable applause from the crowd when he checked out in the second quarter. The thought of Mahinmi getting a big ovation for his offense from Wizards fans would have been unthinkable just a year ago. But now he's healthy and showing why the Wizards wanted him so badly in free agency.

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Up next: The Wizards move on to Boston for the second game of a back-to-back. They play a banged-up Celtics team at 8 p.m. on ESPN. We will have pre- and postgame coverage on NBC Sports Washington beginning with Wizards HangTime at 6 p.m.

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Bradley Beal fouling out nearly changed the series, but Wizards rallied

Bradley Beal fouling out nearly changed the series, but Wizards rallied

After calling an inconsistent game throughout the night, the referees made a decision with five minutes to go in Game 4 that nearly altered the entire series between the Wizards and Raptors.

DeMar DeRozan was chasing a rebound on the baseline and ran into Bradley Beal. Beal, who had a team-high 31 points, was levied a sixth foul. He was out of the game with the score tied.

Beal had unloaded for 20 points in 12 minutes in the second half, but now the Wizards would have to close it out without their All-Star shooting guard. Somehow, they were able to seal the win and tie the series.

Beal heard the whistle as he laid on the ground. He immediately hopped up and unleashed a tantrum that nobody could blame him for. He jumped up and down, screaming at the referees, who had just called by all accounts a questionable foul and in a key moment of a playoff game.

Both Beal and head coach Scott Brooks were incensed and with good reason.

“I was beyond emotional, beyond mad, frustrated," Beal said. "I honestly thought they were going to kick me out of the game I was so mad, but I was happy they didn’t do that."

Beal is probably lucky the referees didn't take offense to his reaction because it continued when he was on the bench. He walked past his teammates and leaned over with his hands on his knees, still furious. Then he returned to the sideline to yell at the refs. Center Ian Mahinmi helped convince him to step back and cool off.

Beal has made a major difference in this series. He averaged 14.0 points in the first two games, both losses. He has averaged 29.5 points in Games 3 and 4, two Wizards wins.

Getting him out of the game was a major break for the Raptors, but they couldn't take advantage. The Wizards closed the final five minutes on a 14-6 tear. John Wall stepped up to lead the charge with eight of those points.

The Wizards still had one star on the court and he played like one.

“Just go in attack mode," Wall said. "When Brad went out, I knew I had to do whatever it took... I just wanted to do whatever, so that we could advance to Game 5, tied 2-2.”

Once Beal composed himself, his confidence grew in his teammates. He and Wall feel comfortable playing without each other because they have done so often throughout their careers.

This year, Wall missed 41 games due to a left knee injury. Two years ago, Beal missed 27 games. Early on in his career, he had trouble staying healthy. Now he is an iron man who played in all 82 games during the 2017-18 regular season.

Beal has grown accustomed to being on the floor a lot, but he realized he can still affect the game from the sidelines.

"I just gathered my emotions, gathered my thoughts and told my team we were going to win, regardless. I knew if we still had John [Wall] in the game I loved our chances," Beal said. "Face the adversity that I had to overcome, just gather myself and be a leader, being vocal and keeping everyone encouraged in the game.”

Wall and others did the heavy lifting in the end. The Wizards used Kelly Oubre, Jr. as the shooting guard with Beal out and he made key plays down the stretch, including a steal on Kyle Lowry in the closing seconds.

The Wizards were thrown a significant curveball and they overcame it to put themselves in good position now having won two straight.

“You have to have resolve to win in this league," Brooks said. "You win playoff games and you win playoff series with having that. We have that, and we have to continue to have that because we have to win two more games and one of them has to be on the road."

When it comes to the officiating, the Wizards deserve credit for their resilience and restraint early in Game 4. The Raptors had 16 free throws in the first quarter compared to the Wizards' four. Washington perservered and ended up with more free throws (31) than the Raptors (30) did for the game.

In Game 1, the Wizards appeared to be affected by a lack of foul calls. That came was called loosely by the referees, while this one was officiated tightly. Though Beal went off, the Wizards for the most part stayed the course and were rewarded for it.

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The Wizards supplied all the highlights and fireworks; 5 must-see moments from Game 4

The Wizards supplied all the highlights and fireworks; 5 must-see moments from Game 4

WASHINGTON -- As the home team in a dire situation you have to take advantage, and that is exactly what the Washington Wizards did in their 106-98 win over the Toronto Raptors.

Highlight reel play after highlight reel play, the Wizards ignited the crowd with some of their best plays from the entire season to make it 2-2 in the series. Here are just a few of them:

1. John Wall collects posters in the first half

The first one was perhaps the best. Everything was going wrong for the Wizards, poor turnovers, bad shots, a three from Toronto. Then John Wall had enough. Not only did he fly past his defender Kyle Lowry, but he went up and slammed one home past the 7-foot Jonas Valanciunas. Up until that point, the Wizards were shooting 1-for-7.

Rinse and repeat, except this time Jakob Poeltl was Wall’s victim.

2. Wall to Beal alley-oop in transition

With the Wizards’ offense faltering, the Raptors remained on the verge of blowing the game open throughout the second quarter. But with a steal from Otto Porter Jr., Wall hung up the ball for Bradley Beal to slam home. The alley-oop kept the Wizards within single digits in the second with an uninspiring offensive effort.

3. Otto Porter breaks out of the half

A subdued offensive start to the game was due in part to the production from Porter. In the first half he went 0-for-4 with one point in nearly 17 minutes of action.

Throw that away in the second half. He broke out of halftime with back-to-back threes and 10 of the Wizards’ 26 in a monster 26-14 run to take the lead back in the third.

He finished the quarter with 10 points, an assist, and two blocks.

4. The Polish Hammer throwing it home

Are you convinced yet that Marcin Gortat’s new haircut is doing him some good? Gortat squeezed through two Raptors’ defenders, threw it down, gave a Goliath-type roar to the crowd before officially bringing the hammer down. 

5. Beal being called for his sixth foul of the game

Agree with the call or not, there is no denying that Beal’s removal from the game lit a fire underneath the Wizards. From that point Washington went on a 14-6 scoring run to end the game, closing out for the win.

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