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Wizards take a step back, fall to last-place Atlanta Hawks as struggles vs. bad teams continue

Wizards take a step back, fall to last-place Atlanta Hawks as struggles vs. bad teams continue

The Washington Wizards lost to the Atlanta Hawks 113-99 on Wednesday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Same problems continue: Somehow, it happened again.

After beating the first-place Boston Celtics on Christmas Day, Wednesday offered a unique test for a Wizards team that has made a habit of playing down to lesser opponents. The Wizards failed that test. After netting arguably their best win of the season, the Wizards followed it up with one of their worst defeats.

This wasn't the blowout loss we saw against the Nets over the weekend, but it was bad. The Hawks entered this game with the worst record in the NBA. They let pretty much all of their best players go this offseason and are on a straight shot to the lottery. They are certifiably terrible, yet they overcame a 10-point first quarter deficit to win by 14.

The Wizards came into this riding a two-game win streak. They were feeling good about themselves and said all the right things. But 48 minutes later and the Wizards lost another game to a bad team.

The Wizards are now 9-10 against teams with sub-.500 records. Those 10 losses are more than any other NBA team and one more than they had all of last season. That is not normal for a team this talented.

That record against losing teams is countered by their impressive 10-6 mark against teams at .500 or better. That's the best record in the East. If they could only figure out how to beat bad teams, they will be fine. But we have been saying that for weeks.

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Wall and Beal weren't themselves: Wall finished with his third straight double-double, but he never found a real scoring rhythm. The Hawks did a good job keeping guys in front of him and playing help defense to limit his trips into the lane. There were times where Wall got right by Dennis Schroder and others, but they weren't as frequent as we are used to.

The numbers bear that out. Wall shot just 3-for-9 and was limited to 10 points to go along with his 11 assists. Wall did a good job setting others up, but what makes him great is his ability to also affect the game as a scorer. That impact wasn't there against the Hawks.

Bradley Beal was also off. He shot just 7-for-19 (36.8%) despite finishing with 20 points, six rebounds and three steals. Since Beal went off for 85 points in two games on Dec. 5 and 7, he's shot just 38.3 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three in 10 games. That's just not him.

Otto, Oubre and Keef stayed hot: This wasn't the best game for the Wizards, but they continued to see encouraging signs from forwards Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and Markieff Morris. Porter had 15 points, seven rebounds and two steals. He wasn't great in his first game back, but has averaged 17.3 points in his last three games while shooting 57.5 percent shooting.

Oubre put in 11 points and hit 3-of-5 from three. He has reached double figures in 24 of 35 games this season. Last year he had 24 double-digit scoring nights in 79 games. Morris came out hot again with 10 points in eight minutes and finished with 18 points and eight rebounds. He went 2-for-3 from three.

Morris, though, had four turnovers and another technical. Though he has only played in 27 of the Wizards' 35 games, Morris has seven technicals and leads the Eastern Conference. Only DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green have more. Cousins has nine and the other two have eight.

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Collins is impressive: Atlanta may have found a good one in rookie John Collins. The 19th overall pick, Collins affected this game in all sorts of ways despite being held to eight points, below his 11.7 per game average. He's very fast and agile for a 6-foot-10 forward. There were several sequences where he made plays at both rims back-to-back.

Collins finished as a +18 and also had eight rebounds. He got Beal twice on chasedown blocks and affected many shots along the way. The Hawks have a long road back to legitimacy after losing Paul Millsap, Dwight Howard and Tim Hardaway, Jr., but Collins is already proving himself to be a worthy building block.

Up next: The Wizards are off Thursday before hosting James Harden and the Rockets, one of the best teams in the NBA. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

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Kelly Oubre, Jr.s development is giving Wizards options both in short-term and long-term

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Kelly Oubre, Jr.s development is giving Wizards options both in short-term and long-term

Kelly Oubre, Jr. keeps taking his game to new heights. On Friday night against the Pistons he set a new career-high with 26 points and tied a personal best with five threes.

Though Oubre is not a starter, he produces like one. He is the Wizards' third-leading scorer since Thanksgiving. That's 28 games, or slightly more than a third of a full, 82-game season. 

Oubre has reached double figures in points this season in 28 of his 46 games. He's dropped 15 points or more in four straight and has hit multiple threes in each of his last seven.

Oubre's three-point percentage on the season is now up to 40.5 percent, way up from his 28.7 clip from a year ago and he is starting to separate himself from other NBA bench players. Only three reserves are averaging at least 12 points per game and shoot at least 40 percent from three. It's Oubre, Lou Williams of the Clippers and Nikola Mirotic of the Bulls.

What he's doing is also rare for his age. Only five players 22 or younger are shooting 40 percent or better from beyond the arc this season with at least 100 attempts and Oubre is one of them.

Oubre is still capable of making mistakes from inexperience, ones that frustrate head coach Scott Brooks. There have been several instances this season where Oubre has made the wrong decision based on clock and score awareness. Like many young players, he sometimes gambles on defense and pays for it.

But those errors are becoming few and far between. Oubre is playing well beyond his years and is making an impact on both ends of the floor. Perhaps most importantly, his development is giving the Wizards options both in the short-term and the long-term.

The Wizards' starting lineup has not been nearly as consistent as it was last season. Though they beat the Pistons on Friday, Brooks has hinted at changes if their issues continue.

John Wall and Bradley Beal are having seasons worthy of All-Star recognition. Meanwhile, Otto Porter has been hot and cold, Markieff Morris is averaging just 10.0 points and 5.5 rebounds per game and Marcin Gortat has seen his minutes go up and down. Oubre gives Brooks multiple options if he does want to shake up their starting lineup.

In the big picture, Oubre's development gives the Wizards flexablity. He's making just $2 million this season and $3 million the next. That is far lower than what Porter ($24.7M), Morris ($8M) and Gortat ($12.8M) are getting paid. If the Wizards wanted to turn to Oubre, they could save significant money with a trade.

The Wizards may keep Oubre right where he is, on their bench as the sixth man. But if they want to make a change, either big or small, he has given them more options than they had just months ago.

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Utah Jazz make guard Rodney Hood available, would Wizards be a fit?

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Utah Jazz make guard Rodney Hood available, would Wizards be a fit?

Momentum is building towards Utah Jazz shooting guard Rodney Hood getting dealt before next month's NBA trade deadline. Marc Stein of the New York Times reported on Saturday that multiple teams have already expressed interest in the four-year pro:

Hood, 25, is on an expiring contract and would provide scoring for a team in the market for offense. He's averaging 16.7 points this season on 41.3 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from three.

Hood isn't a very efficient player, but he can stretch the floor. He's also big for his position at 6-foot-8 and is a very good free throw shooter (86.2%).

The Wizards could use help at the shooting guard position with Bradley Beal logging heavy minutes. They have an improved bench after making several upgrades last offseason, but shooting guard Jodie Meeks has yet to establish a consistent role in their rotation due to his low shooting percentage.

The Wizards don't necessarily need offensive help, but Hood could help take pressure off of Beal. He could also play in lineups with both Beal and John Wall.

It's unclear what the Jazz want in return for Hood and whether the Wizards could make a worthy offer. If Utah is taking the longview to build for the future, that could mean a first round pick and the Wizards have already parted with their last two.

Regardless, if the Wizards decide to target shooting guards in the next few weeks, expect Hood's name to come up.

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