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Dave Johnson: Hawks Hand Wizards 5th Loss In A Row

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Dave Johnson: Hawks Hand Wizards 5th Loss In A Row

Thursday, March 11, 2010 9:49pm

Hawks vs. Wizards Game Highlights & Postgame

By Dave Johnson
CSNwashington.comWashington----The Washington Wizards are just hurting themselves. Thirty points from Andray Blatche and a career night from JaVale McGee were canceled out by turnovers in a 105-99 loss to the Atlanta Hawks to extend the Wizards losing streak to five games.While the Wizards did so many things well, they could not control Jamal Crawford who came off the bench to lead the Hawks with a game-high 29-points and further his case to be the NBAs Sixth Man of the Year.The Wizards shot 49 percent from the field and dominated the Hawks on the boards where they had a 42-29 advantage in rebounds. It didnt matter because the Wizards committed 21 turnovers that led to 32 of the Hawks points.You cant turn the ball over as many times as we did tonight against a team that has won as many games as Atlanta has this year, said Wizards guard Mike Miller. The way Atlanta gets out in the open court and how athletic they are puts a lot of pressure on your defense. Atlanta forced us to make some bad passes which they capitalized on.Indeed the Hawks were effective in denying the passing lanes and at times the Wizards struggled to make the first entry pass to start their offense. In addition Blatche, often dealing with two defenders, committed seven of the Wizards turnovers.Still it was Blatche and McGee who led an inside game that helped compensate for the Wizards miscues. To go with Blatches 30-points, McGee had a career high 20-points including eight dunks to match Orlandos Dwight Howard for most dunks in an NBA game this season.Ive seen a lot of enthusiasm out of him, Blatche said of McGee. Hes working hard. Hes improving. I see him in the gym, getting extra shots, getting extra moves done, in the weight room. All of his hard work is starting to pay off for him. Further amplifying the work of Blatche and McGee is the fact that the Atlanta Hawks are ranked fourth in the NBA in paint scores. Instead the Wizards had the 48-36 advantage in points in the paint and a 26-11 advantage in second chance points.In fact the Wizards work on the boards saved them and had them locked in a competitive game until the Hawks composure on offense prevailed. At the end of the third quarter the Hawks went on a 13-3 run to build a twelve point lead at 85-73 with 10:12 left in the fourth quarter.Like they did in Tuesdays turnover-plagued loss to Houston, the Wizards showed a fight and determination down the stretch. With 1:21 remaining Blatche was able to drive around the Hawks Josh Smith to bring the Wizards to within six points at 101-95.The Wizards then got the stop and rebound they needed and Miller found McGee in transition for his eighth slam dunk of the night. Miller, who only took eight shots, had seven assists and now the Wizards only trailed 101-97 with 54-seconds left.Again the Wizards tightened on defense and snared the rebound on a missed Joe Johnson jump shot near the end of the twenty-four second clock, but were unable to push the ball up the floor because of an inadvertent whistle.Instead the Hawks defense was able to get set and the Wizards received the ball with 30.7-seconds left in the game. From the block Blatche then backed down Smith before turning to the baseline, but his jumper didnt go and Smith grabbed the rebound effectively ending the Wizards final push.So for the Wizards it is not about commitment. It is about execution. The Wizards are competitive despite wasted possessions but have to be better to get back in the win column.The former team had a lot more veteran guys and I think they were struggling a little bit, but now they are rejuvenated, noted the Hawks Joe Johnson. They have a bunch of guys trying to find their way in the league. Blatche has been giving All-Star numbers since the break and I was just trying to keep up with him. The Wizards play at Detroit on Friday. Earl Boykins will see playing time after sitting out the game against the Hawks. The Wizards are trying to manage players with three games in three night.

Check out Bob Youngentob's Hawks vs. Wizards photo gallery here

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Report suggests Barack Obama is trying to recruit Masai Ujiri to Wizards

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Report suggests Barack Obama is trying to recruit Masai Ujiri to Wizards

The Wizards are reportedly preparing to make Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri a massive offer to run Washington's NBA franchise. And they may have some big-time help recruiting him to D.C. 

Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, is trying to persuade Ujiri to leave the NBA champions to join the Wizards, according to The Athletic's Ethan Strauss. 

"I hear Barack Obama's a part of that whole Masai recruitment to D.C.," Strauss said on a recent episode of the "Back To Back" podcast. "I've heard Obama wants Masai in D.C. Obama wants to do something with basketball."

Obama and Ujiri are close friends. Obama was in attendance at Game 2 of the NBA Finals in Toronto, while Ujiri attended the White House Correspondents' Dinner in 2015 when Obama was in office. 

The Wizards' potential offer for Ujiri is reportedly for six years, $60 million, and could possibly include an ownership stake in Monumental Sports & Entertainment and other responsibilities within the company, sources have told NBC Sports Washington. 

And hey, it doesn't hurt to have the former Commander in Chief making your sales pitch.

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Sekou Doumbouya visits Wizards hoping to sell them on his defense

Sekou Doumbouya visits Wizards hoping to sell them on his defense

WASHINGTON -- The Wizards hosted one of their final prospect workouts in anticipation of the June 20 NBA Draft on Friday, as six players battled in three-on-three drills with every member of Washington's front office and coaching staff in sight. But behind the glass wall of the dining lounge at the Wizards' practice facility at St. Elizabeth's was the player everyone wanted to see.

Sekou Doumbouya, who is projected to land in the lottery on draft night, made a visit to Washington to speak with Wizards personnel. He did not participate in the workout, but through face-to-face interviews gave the Wizards an up-close look at a player who may or may not be on the board when they are on the clock with the ninth overall pick.

Doumbouya is the youngest player in the draft at just 18 years old, with his birthday not until late December. He is originally from Guinea but played professional basketball in France. Given his age and the fact he played in a second-tier league before making the leap to the NBA, Doumbouya holds some mystery as a prospect.

In his meetings with teams, Doumbouya has tried to hammer home one point in particular.

"My defense," he said. "I can play everywhere [because] if you play defense, you can play everywhere in the league."

Defense certainly stands out when it comes to Doumbouya's potential. He is 6-foot-9 with a reported 7-foot-2 wingspan. At his age, he could keep growing. And at that size, he has the mobility to guard multiple positions, force turnovers and maybe even block some shots.

The Wizards need help with just about every area of their defense. They were 27th in defensive rating last season and 29th in points allowed. They couldn't defend the perimeter or the lane, allowing the fourth-highest three-point percentage (37%) and the fifth-most three-point makes (12.1/g), while also allowing more field goals within five feet of the rim than any team (22.1/g) and the third-highest percentage (64.2%) in that range. 

Doumbouya projects as the type of defensive anchor who could help in a variety of ways. He could step out to guard three-point shooters while also clogging lanes to the basket with his length.

The questions for Doumbouya center around how NBA-ready he is at his age and experience, and what his ceiling will ultimately be on the offensive end. Doumbouya, though, believes he can be especially effective in transition.

"Fastbreak," he said when listing his strengths. "I love running [the floor]."

Whether Doumbouya will be available at the ninth pick depends on who you ask. Most mock drafts have him at nine or lower, but his athleticism and versatility could entice a team that picks before the Wizards.

The Hawks, whom Doumbouya met with the day after seeing the Wizards, are a team to watch. They have the eighth, 10th and 17th picks in the first round, so they can afford to take a risk. They could snag Doumbouya at No. 8, then go with a safer pick or two with their other selections.

But there is a very good chance Doumbouya is the best player available when the Wizards get set to make their pick. If he does, defense will be his biggest selling point.

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