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Wizards take out Pelicans in rollercoaster game, avoid big injury scare

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Wizards take out Pelicans in rollercoaster game, avoid big injury scare

The Washington Wizards beat the New Orleans Pelicans 116-106 on Tuesday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Weird game: The Wizards have been difficult to figure out so far this season, sometimes playing like a title contender and other times playing down to some of the worst teams in the NBA. Their inconsistency was displayed in extreme fashion on Tuesday night in a topsy-turvy win against the Pelicans.

The net result is a victory over a team currently in the Western Conference playoff picture, but this game was just plain weird. The Wizards led by 25 points midway through the second quarter before the Pelicans charged all the way back to tie the game at 61-61 with 10:21 left in the third. Then, the Wizards erupted to lead by 23 points entering the fourth quarter. They won by 10.

The Pelicans' comeback was in large part due to Anthony Davis (37 points, nine rebounds), who had 22 points by halftime and got pretty much anything he wanted in the paint. But give credit to the Wizards, who responded with a big run of their own.

The Wizards are now 17-14 on the season and are 3-1 since John Wall returned. Speaking of Wall...


Wall started out hot: Early on in this one we saw a version of Wall we hadn't seen in quite some time. He was absolutely unstoppable in the first quarter with 14 points and six assists on 5-for-8 shooting from the field and 3-for-5 from three. By halftime he had 15 points, tying his most since returning from his two knee procedures and his most in a game since Nov. 22, nearly a month ago.

Everything was working for Wall in the first half, including his no-look passes:

Wall would cool off after that. He scored just three points in the second half and ended up with 18 to go along with 10 assists and six rebounds. Still, it was a great sign for the Wizards, as their All-Star point guard took a step closer to reaching midseason form.

Wall, by the way, was wearing Kobe Bryant's signature shoes as a tribute to the Lakers legend, who had not one but two numbers retired in L.A. on Monday night.

Porter out again: The Wizards played their second straight game without starting small forward Otto Porter, who continues to deal with a right hip contusion. He was considered a gametime decision, but was not able to give it a go. This was not a surprise, as he missed practice on Monday and shootaround Tuesday morning. Head coach Scott Brooks said before Tuesday's game that Porter has not required further testing, so there seems to be no serious concern, yet he remains sidelined.

Beal injury scare: Already without Porter, the Wizards nearly saw another star go down in the third quarter when Bradley Beal (26 points, five rebounds, four assists) fell to the ground after appearing to roll his ankle. Beal was in obvious pain, but was able to rally and put together a strong second half of 22 points.

Here's the play Beal got injured on:

That sound you hear is Wizards fans sighing in relief.

Scott-o-matic: We may have an early-season favorite for the NBA's Comeback Player of the Year award. Mike Scott is straight-up unstoppable these days. The Pelicans were the latest to try to contain him and that they could not.

Scott found his groove early, per usual, with nine points in his first four minutes on 4-for-4 from the field. He ended up with 24 points, a new season-high and his most since April of 2014, and shot 11-for-15. In his last eight games, he's got 123 points (15.4 ppg) and has shot an insane 53-for-72 (79.1%). He is quickly turning into one of the best bargains in the NBA.

Up next: The Wizards have two days off before heading up to Brooklyn to face the Nets on Friday night. The Nets aren't good, but they did beat the Wizards just recently on Dec. 12, when Washington was playing without Wall. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.


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Marcin Gortat loses the Mohawk, much to the approval of his teammates and coach

Marcin Gortat loses the Mohawk, much to the approval of his teammates and coach

WASHINGTON — After the Washington Wizards fell behind to a 0-2 hole in their series with the Toronto Raptors, there were a lot places where people jumped to criticism. Marcin Gortat was right in the middle of that discussion after his Game 2 performance.

Heading into Game 3 though, Gortat made a change. Not only on the court, but in his appearance.

Yep, he shaved the Mohawk.

“There were a lot of people insisting,” Gortat said. “Keef [Markieff Morris] was bringing, for the past week, he was bringing clippers to the practice to try to shave me after practice, but I was always dipping.”

“I pulled a Houdini trick, I was disappearing right at the end of the practice. So I finally said 'You know what I'm done' fixing, you know it takes a lot of time to maintain that so I decided to shave it. And I'm glad because I was smoother out there.”

Smooth is right, and to the tune of 16 points, 8-of-10 shooting in nearly 26 minutes of action, Gortat had his best scoring output since March 17. He was one of five Wizards to reach double figures on the evening.

“That was the key,” John Wall said.

Often times in sport it superstitious to shave anything during the postseason. After all, the Mohawk has been a staple for the 6-11 center for the entire 2017-18 season. Now he is back to his polished look, one that helps identify the ‘Polish Hammer.’

“We needed the old Marc back, we need the hammer back. I felt like we got him back,” Morris said. “I'd cut his head. He's too cute with that Mohawk.”

A small sample size, but Morris’ point is valid. Time will tell if the post-mohawk era for Gortat will favor the Wizards past one game.

“I think he got an age-appropriate haircut,” head coach Scott Brooks said.

He has a point too… Gortat is 34-years-old.




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Markieff Morris set tone for Wizards, who finally got back to 'Death Row mentality'

Markieff Morris set tone for Wizards, who finally got back to 'Death Row mentality'

Perhaps Toronto and their fans would disagree, but through two games the first round playoff series between the Wizards and Raptors had been relatively uneventful, maybe even boring to the casual observer. For those who have watched the Wizards in recent years, something just seemed off with them.

Not only were Bradley Beal and Otto Porter struggling to score, but the energy and grit we're used to from the Wizards in the postseason just wasn't there. Three minutes into Game 3 on Friday night, that all changed.

Wizards forward Markieff Morris got tangled with Raptors rookie OG Anunoby and fell to the ground. He rose up, shoved Anunoby and gave Serge Ibaka a push for good measure. It cost Morris a technical, but he wasn't ejected. From there, the tone was set.

This was to be a physical game and the Wizards were going to make sure of it. That's how they prefer to play and that nastiness had been missing thus far in this series.

"I think OG [Anunoby] did not know the scouting report because he did not know that Keef is one of the people you do not mess with in this world," forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. said. "He will learn.”

The fireworks didn't end there. Beal and Jonas Valanciunas got into it and so did John Wall and Anunoby, and then Wall and Ibaka.

The Wizards made a name for themselves in the 2016-17 season when they won 49 games and were one win away from the conference finals as a team that would instigate contact and talk trash. They prided themselves on being old school in that regard and were praised for it by former NBA tough guys like Paul Pierce and Stephen Jackson.

This season, they just haven't been able to do it as often.

"We have been there at spurts throughout the year, we just have not been there consistently," Oubre said. "Now it is do or die. We just need to bring that Death Row mentality.”

Oubre also joked that rapper Drake started it all by sitting courtside in Toronto and talking trash. Truthfully, their backs were against the wall and they had no choice but to punch back.

The Wizards entered Friday's game down 0-2 to the Raptors with Game 2 a dispirited blowout. If they went down 0-3, they would essentially have been dead in the water. No team has come back from that deficit in NBA history.

This time, they weren't going to go down without a fight.

"It sounds crazy, but sometimes we need that. The crazy part is that it's always [Morris]," center Marcin Gortat said. "If you see your teammate fighting, I'm going to fight with him. That's the bottom-line."

"We came out tonight with an edge about ourselves," Beal said. "Keef is a bully... we are physical team." 

As for Morris, the enforcer himself, he let his actions speak for themselves. He didn't take the bait on most questions, but did wear a 'Death Row D.C.' shirt during his media availability. Morris came up with that nickname last season to convey the toughness he wants the Wizards to play with.

"We need some physicality," Morris said. "I feel like when we were in Toronto, they were doing everything too freely. This kind of set the tone for the whole series... we need to keep our same mean mentality. If they wanna fight, we will fight."

The Wizards fought the Hawks and Celtics last year tooth-and-nail and often used physical play to their advantage. It worked in Game 3 against the Raptors. Now the Wizards will have to counter however Toronto chooses to respond.




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