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Wizards edge Grizzlies, but barely, in John Wall's return to lineup

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Wizards edge Grizzlies, but barely, in John Wall's return to lineup

The Washington Wizards beat the Memphis Grizzlies 93-87 on Wednesday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Wall returned: The Wizards had John Wall back on Wednesday night for the first time after a nine-game absence and he helped lead them to a win over the Grizzlies, despite the fact he was restriced to just 28 minutes. Wall played decent with 13 points (6-for-15 FG) and four assists, but his return wasn't enough to solve everything for the Wizards, who are in a considerable rut at the moment.

They once again let a lesser team give them a real challenge. This time the Wizards were able to win after not being as lucky in their previous two games, but a six-point win over the 8-20 Mike Conley-less Grizzlies is no major achievement.

The Grizzlies have lost 16 of their last 17 games, yet they battled back from down 17 points to take a two-point lead, their first of the game, at 67-65 with 8:53 left. The Wizards would pull away with a 13-0 run sparked by threes from Mike Scott and Bradley Beal. They are now 15-13 on the season.

As for Wall, he took a while to get going but once he did he reminded the Wizards what they were missing. Wall had nine points in the second quarter, including a three and one of his trademark lefty dunks:

Wall can get past anyone, even when he's in the first game back from two knee procedures.


Satoransky still in the rotation: One interesting byproduct of Wall's return is what head coach Scott Brooks does with Tomas Satoransky, who played well in a backup role during Wall's absence. We got that answer quickly in the first quarter when it was Satoransky and not Tim Frazier who came in first to spell Wall.

Satoransky was okay, he had three points, two assists and four fouls in 15 minutes. But the fact he played more minutes (15) than Frazier (five) is telling. The second unit thrived with Satoransky running point when Wall was out and Satoransky seemed to play well enough to earn a larger role.

That may end up forcing him to play some shooting guard or small forward, but for one night he was still getting point guard minutes. Whether he has officially earned Brooks' trust yet or not remains to be seen. The leash could be short, as we've seen the past two years.

No offense: The first half of this one was not one for those who like scoring. The Wizards had a so-so half with 41 points on 41.9 percent shooting, but the Grizzlies were absolutely dreadful. They had 12 points in the first quarter and 17 in the second to total 29 at the half.

The 12 points in the first were the fewest allowed by the Wizards in a quarter this season. The 29 points at halftime were the fewest the Wizards have surrendered in a half since 2012. The Wizards deserve some credit for their defense, as Memphis shot just 27.8 percent in the first half, but the Grizzlies are generally terrible on offense. They entered the game 29th in the NBA in points per game.

Mahinmi, Morris out: Just when they got Wall back, the Wizards saw another starter go down with an injury. Morris was held out with a sore right hip and Scott started in his place. It's unclear if the hip injury is related to anything else he's dealt with in recent months, between a sprained left ankle and sports hernia surgery, but it wouldn't be surprising.

Ian Mahinmi missed his second straight game with a right knee strain. Brooks said before the game that Mahinmi had a clean MRI, so he likely won't be out long.

Scott keeps balling: Moving from the bench to the starting lineup didn't slow Scott, who continues to be on fire. He had 10 points and five rebounds and shot 4-for-7 from the field and 2-for-4 from three. Over his last five games, Scott has 58 points and has shot 25-for-33. That'll do. 

The fact the Wizards signed him to a veteran's minimum continues to amaze.

Up next: The Wizards get a much-needed day off Thursday with no game and no practice. They pick back up on Friday night by hosting the Clippers, who beat them on Saturday in L.A. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.


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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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