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What John Wall, Bradley Beal and other Wizards players actually do during halftime

What John Wall, Bradley Beal and other Wizards players actually do during halftime

Paul Pierce dropped an interesting story from the 2014-15 season he played with the Wizards in an interview with Cari Champion for Uber last week, how when he was with Washington he was surprised at how many players went on their phones at halftime. He noticed it in other stops late in his career as well, that younger players treat the midgame break differently than the older veterans do.

Here is what Pierce said, as transcribed by TruthAboutIt.net: 

“I just remember going in at halftime and I’m looking at everybody on their phone and I’m like ‘What is everybody doing on their phone? We supposed to be locking in to the game.’ And I’m finding out everybody is on Instagram, everybody is on Twitter. Everybody is finding out what people are saying about them for the first half."

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When asked this week by NBC Sports Washington, several Wizards players admitted they go on their phone at halftime, but not for the reason Pierce suggested. None of them said they check social media. What they will do is text those they trust to field advice on what they can do in the second half.

"I'm not going to sit here and say I haven't done it before. I've checked my phone before," guard Bradley Beal said on the Wizards Tipoff podcast. "My mom is probably going off on me about my shot, changing some things. Same with my trainer. If I'm not having a good shooting night, I will see if anybody is watching the game and see if they can tell me something I need to know before I go back out there. But social media I stay off."

"If I'm not playing too well, I will ask my trainer what can I do. Or, I will ask my agent or my best friend," guard John Wall said. "I might text them and ask them what they think I should do."

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Markieff Morris will check online boxscores to see how his twin brother Marcus, a forward for the Celtics, is doing. But going on social media and texting people is not his thing.

"If I play s----y, I know I played s----y. I don't need somebody to verify that for me," he said. "[Checking social media] is when you ain't focused. That's when you're worried about your stats and other s--- going on outside of basketball."

Head coach Scott Brooks usually doesn't enter the locker room until 10 minutes after halftime has started. That leaves the players to sit in their chairs or stretch. Some will check film or listen to music. Most will hydrate or eat fruit left at their lockers by the team masseuse.

Some hafltime breaks take on a different vibe when the team is losing. Those 10 minutes are usually silent, but not when one of the team leaders has something to get off his chest.

"Sometimes I will just blow up at halftime or blow up after a game. I'll be the only one talking, like coach won't even talk," Beal said. "There are moments where my emotions are running high and I just let everybody have it. I say we need to be better. I can't necessarily say everything that I say, but you can probably imagine."

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Wall, Morris and other veterans over the years have been known to speak up in similar ways, when the team isn't playing to its capabilities. Now a 24-year-old veteran in his sixth season, Beal has taken on that responsibility from time to time.

"I've done it a few times this year like after games, when we lose games, or in games where I feel like we should be playing better," he said. "There are times when I do that and I feel like I have the position and the leverage to do so. I utilize it."

Wall is as outspoken as anyone in the Wizards' locker room. Beal is a bit more laid back. When guys like Beal speak up, Wall says people take notice.

"If a guy is a quiet guy and don't say too much and it's time for him to speak up, then you know it's really bad," he said.

You can listen to Beal's full interview on the Wizards Tipoff podcast below. He shares more on his growth as a leader:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play.

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Fourth quarter has been an issue for the Wizards in series vs. Raptors

Fourth quarter has been an issue for the Wizards in series vs. Raptors

It was all going so well for the Wizards in Game 5 on Wednesday night until just over four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. That's when their offense went from good enough to win to bad enough to alter a series and put their 2017-18 season on life support.

The Wizards head back to Washington down 3-2 and have only themselves to blame. From the 4:05 mark in the fourth quarter all the way until 16.2 seconds remining in the game, they did not score a single point. Meanwhile, the Raptors kept rolling and finished that stretch on a 14-5 run. 

The Wizards missed 11 of their final 15 shots. They stopped moving the ball and moving off the ball and even some of their open shots clanged off the backboard or the rim.

It was a stunning display of offensive ineptitude from a team that was above average in scoring during the regular season. 

"We just missed some shots," guard Bradley Beal said. "We feel like we got some good ones, especially down the stretch."

The Wizards managed 20 points in the fourth quarter and 15 came in the first 7:55 of the frame. That would put them on pace for a solid quarter. If they maintained that course, they may have won the game.

Instead, the fourth quarter amounted to a disaster and it cost them dearly. Teams that lose Game 5 to break a 2-2 tie have a 17.2 percent chance of winning the series, based on the league's history.

Otto Porter went scoreless and took one shot in the fourth quarter of Game 5. John Wall had two of his seven turnovers and shot 2-for-6.

"I had two crucial turnovers trying to split screens in the fourth quarter," Wall said. "Just bad reads on my part."

Beal shot 1-for-6 from the field and 1-for-4 from three. Kelly Oubre, Jr., who shot just 40.3 percent from the field during the regular season, took six shots in the fourth quarter, tied for most on the team. He made two of them and missed all three of his threes.

The Wizards had six of their 18 giveaways in the fourth. Though they outrebounded the Raptors 50-35 for the game, they were outdone 15-12 in the frame.

The Wizards' scoreless drought of three minutes and 49 seconds in the fourth quarter was perhaps foreshadowed by some problems with their offense early in the game. There were plenty of stretches characterized by bad shots, turnovers and a lack of passing.

The Wizards' 21 assists in Game 5 were their fewest in the playoffs so far.

"We need more ball movement," Beal said. "We need more player movement. We were way too stagnant."

The fourth quarter has been an issue all series. Only once, in Game 2, did they outscore the Raptors in the final frame. 

The Wizards rank 14th out of 16 playoff teams in fourth quarter points (23.4/g) and dead-last with a 40.4 field goal percentage and 28.1 three point percentage.

This is a bit of a carryover from the regular season. Only five teams shot worse than the Wizards in the fourth quarter (43.7%) and only five teams allowed more points (26.5) to their opponents.

Washington has had issues closing games all year and throughout this series. Wednesday night was an extreme example and it has them just one loss away from elimination.

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Wizards have to find a way to stop DeMar DeRozan to climb back in series

Wizards have to find a way to stop DeMar DeRozan to climb back in series

The Toronto Raptors' best player has become a serious problem for the Washington Wizards, as they now face a 3-2 series deficit in their 2018 NBA Playoffs first-round series and the bleak reality that one more loss means their season is over.

DeMar DeRozan, who began this first round series with a modest 17 points in Game 1, has since raised his game to a new level to beyond even what we have seen in the past. In Games 2-5, DeRozan has averaged 31.8 points, including his 32-game outburst in Game 5 that tilted the series in Toronto's favor.

DeRozan is averaging 28.8 points through five games against the Raptors. That's up considerably from his 22.5-point career playoff average.

DeRozan scored his 32 points in Game 5 with efficiency. He shot 12-for-24 from the field and even made three of his four shots from three.

He didn't even need the free throw line like he normally does. DeRozan shot six free throws, less than his regular season average.

The Wizards are having trouble with DeRozan particularly in the first half. DeRozan is averaging 14.8 first-half points during the playoffs, second only to LeBron James. 

DeRozan had 20 points by halftime in Game 5.

"DeMar was in his element tonight," forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. said. "He got it going early. It was kind of hard to shut him off."

The Wizards are paying for disrespecting DeRozan's three-point shot. He made just 31.2 percent from long range in the regular season, but is shooting threes at a 45.5 percent clip in the playoffs.

If DeRozan is knocking down shots from outside, his offensive game is as complete as just about anyone in the NBA. He has shown in this series an impressive ability to not only get to the rim, but finish through contact or draw fouls.

DeRozan does a good job of maintaining body and ball control going straight up against Wizards' big men and is often rewarded by the referees. He shot a playoff career-high 18 free throws in Game 4.

The Wizards are actually doing a decent job of taking away his midrange shots, which usually account for much of his points. Though DeRozan is hitting an impressive 66.7 percent from 5-to-9 feet, up from his season clip of 47.6, his numbers are down from further out.

DeRozan is shooting 40 percent from 10-to-14 feet out, down from 41.5 percent in the regular season, and just 28.6 percent from 15-to-19 feet, down from 43.7.

DeRozan is hurting the Wizards from long range and within nine feet of the rim. He is taking what the Wizards are giving him and Washington has to adjust.

"We’ve gotta pretty much get it out of [his] hands. Make sure we take care of everybody else," Oubre said.

The Wizards should look to how the defended him in Game 4 as a good example of how to limit his impact. DeRozan had 35 points, but required 29 shots from the field and 18 free throws to get there. 

Washington forced DeRozan into an inefficient night and forced others to try to beat them. The result was the Wizards' best defensive game overall, as the Raptors scored a series-low 98 points.

DeRozan isn't the only defensive concern for the Wizards as they look ahead to Game 6 on Friday. Backup point guard Delon Wright scored 18 points for the second time this series and Toronto hit 11 threes in the game.

The Wizards held the Raptors to just seven threes in Game 4 and it was no coincidence they won that game. They have to lock down the perimeter and, as this series has shown, that includes DeRozan even though he isn't known for making threes.

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