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Dave Johnson: Wizards Fizzle After Fast Start

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Dave Johnson: Wizards Fizzle After Fast Start

Saturday, March 13, 9:40pm

By Dave Johnson
CSNWashignton.comWashington---Against the Orlando Magic, better was just not good enough for the Washington Wizards. With turnovers under control and a dynamic start the Wizards gave themselves a chance but were overwhelmed by a Magic team with more options in a 109-95 loss.It was a dream beginning for the Wizards who responded to the challenge of playing their third game in as many nights by outscoring the Magic in the first quarter 33-20. The Wizards closed the quarter on an impressive 16-2 run over 4:22 and made seven of their final nine shots.Off the bench Fabricio Oberto played a role in the Wizards late first quarter surge. Oberto not only challenged the Magics Dwight Howard but helped the offense with decisive passes and effective screens. In addition Andray Blatche scored 15 of his team high 32-points in the opening quarter.Blatche is very, very good because he can get that shot off over the top any time he wants, said Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy. He can score in the post. He can put the ball on the floor. Hes a tough matchup. We were prepared to put Dwight on him down the stretch if we needed to. I thought we worked harder on him in the second half but hes a force down there.Dwight Howard is very much a force for the Magic and the Wizards really didnt have an answer for him. Howard led the Magic with 28-points and 14-rebounds including 11- points, five rebounds, and four assists in the pivotal second quarter when the Magic outscored the Wizards 41-22.As much as Howard helped in that second, the real credit for the Magic ability to take control of the game before half-time was the play off the bench especially J.J. Reddick and Brandon Bass.Reddick finished with 18-points and his ability to penetrate and challenge the Wizards defense put him at the free throw line where he was six for six. Bass added 16-points and nine rebounds and was strong at making cuts to the basket and finding open seams when the Wizards went to a 2-3 zone.I thought when Orlandos bench came in during the second quarter and they changed the game, said Wizards coach Flip Saunders. (JJ) Redick and (Brandon) Bass really hurt us a lot. Our main guys tonight at times played well together. During that stretch in the second quarter we didnt have great bench play and were playing behind the eight-ball from that point on.So the great start was wiped out in the second quarter, but the Wizards only trailed 61-55 at halftime. The Magic then opened the second half on a 7-0 run and forced the Wizards to really chase the game.There is no question that we got fatigued, Saunders said. It seemed at halftime we came into rest and started thinking how much we have been playing. It was like we didnt have any juice to start the second half. With 2:05 left in the third quarter the Wizards JaVale McGee was able to slap the ball away from a driving Bass and that led to a transition jump shot by Shaun Livingstron from 17-feet that cut the Magic lead to ten points at 84-74.It was as close as the Wizards would get, but still it was Livingstons best outing in his eight games with the Wizards. Livingston finished with 18-points and 8-assists and in those heady times in the first quarter even had a gliding drive to the basket that was reminiscent of Livingston before he suffered his knee injuries in 2007.I feel that he has a very high basketball I.Q. and seems to calm everyone on the floor down, Saunders said of Livingston. He also has great size so he can back anyone down and get a shot off. He has been playing well when he has been on the floor. I expect a lot out of my point guards. I think he is a natural point guard.The Wizards only had ten turnovers on the night and only made one fewer field goal than the Magic (41-40) but the Magic made six more three-pointers and six more free throws to keep the Wizards at a distance,

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Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Aaron Holiday

Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Aaron Holiday

The Washington Wizards hold the 15th and 44th overall picks in the 2018 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects projected to be picked around where the Wizards will select...

2018 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Aaron Holiday

School: UCLA
Position: Point guard
Age: 21 (turns 22 in Sept.)
Height: 6-1
Weight: 187
Wingspan: 6-8
Max vertical: 33

2017/18 stats: 20.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 5.8 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.2 bpg, 46.1 FG%, 42.9 3PT% (2.7 3PT/6.2 3PA), 82.8 FT%
Player comparison: Darren Collison
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 19th, NBADraft.net 24th, Bleacher Report 23rd, Sports Illustrated 23rd

5 things to know:

*Holiday played big minutes in all three seasons for the Bruins. As a junior, he broke out as an elite scorer, averaging 20.3 points while also dishing 5.8 assists per game. Holiday scored in a variety of ways, including at the free throw line where he averaged 5.8 attempts per game and knocked them down at 82.8 percent.

*He is a terrific three-point shooter, one of the best in this draft class based on his college numbers. He hit 42.9 percent of his shots and on 6.2 attempts per game. Holiday shot 42.2 percent from long range in his three-year college career and never shot below 41 percent in a season. He had some games where teams just couldn't stop him from long range. He made four threes or more in 13 college games. Twice he went 5-for-5 and he once made six threes against USC.

*Though he has the skillset to play off the ball as a shooting guard, his size will limit him at the NBA level. Holiday is just under 6-foot-1 in shoes and doesn't have the vertical leap to make up for it. He does, however, have a plus wingspan. At this point, Holiday seems to be solely a point guard, though as long as he's good at the position there is nothing wrong with that.

*Holiday worked out for the Wizards at Capital One Arena. He was part of their first week of predraft workouts and by all accounts had an impressive visit. He hit a lot of shots and fared well in the interview process.

*Holiday has two brothers currently in the NBA. Jrue is a former All-Star who starts at point guard for the New Orleans Pelicans. Justin is a shooting guard for the Chicago Bulls. His sister-in-law, Lauren, is a former member of the U.S. women's national soccer team.

Fit with Wizards: The Wizards already have a point guard in John Wall, so Holiday would have no long-term path to starting. That said, he would shore up a need the Wizards have been trying to address for years.

Backup point guard has been a real void for the Wizards for most of Wall's tenure. This past season they tried out all sorts of options between Tomas Satoransky, Tim Frazier, Ramon Sessions and Ty Lawson. Though Satoransky remains on the roster, the Wizards don't appear content with their depth at the position.

Holiday's ability to hit threes is very attractive to the Wizards who could conceivably play him off-the-ball alongside Wall, or even Satoransky. Given Wall (6-4) and Satoransky (6-7) are taller than most point guards, they could theoretically guard shooting guards on the other end.

Holiday would add smarts and shooting to the Wizards' bench in the short-term. In the long-term, he could help lengthen Wall's career by taking some of his workload away and also give the Wizards more options once Wall enters his 30s.

Best highlight video:

More draft prospect profiles:

Kevin Knox, PF, Kentucky

Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech

Landry Shamet, PG/SG, Wichita State

Gary Trent, Jr., SG, Duke

Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami

Anfernee Simons, PG/SG, IMG Academy

Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton

Chandler Hutchison, SG/SF, Boise State

Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland

Mitchell Robinson, C, Western Kentucky

Troy Brown, SG/SF, Oregon

Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova

Moritz Wagner, PF/C, Michigan

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Need to Know: The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger

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Need to Know: The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 17, 39 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The best Redskins players 25 or younger

Here is a look at the best Redskins players who have played at least one season and will be 25 or younger as of Week 1 this year. 

WR Jamison Crowder, 25 as of Week 1—Crowder hit the ground running in his first year, with 59 receptions, a team rookie record, and gaining 604 yards. He has been very dependable in his three years, averaging 64 catches, 747 yards, and four receiving touchdowns per year. 

OLB Preston Smith, 25—Since he came into the league, no player but Smith has at least 20.5 sacks, three or more interceptions, and four or more forced fumbles. His sack numbers tend to be up and down from week to week, but Jay Gruden has said more than once that Smith is very consistent in getting pressure on the quarterback even if he doesn’t always get home for the sack. 

DL Matt Ioannidis, 24—A year ago it was thought that he would face an uphill battle to make the 53-man roster. Now goes into the season as a starter and key contributor. The 2016 fifth-round pick got much stronger between his first and second seasons and he took well to the coaching of new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. Only a broken hand that cost him two games and had him playing with an awkward cast for a few more kept him from threatening to make double-digit sacks. 

DL Jonathan Allen, 23—The Redskins were just starting to get a hint of what Allen could do early in the season. Pro Football Focus credited him with a total of three sacks in the Redskins third and fourth games. But in their fifth game, he suffered a foot injury that ended his season. Allen was a full go for the offseason program and there is no reason to think that he won’t pick back up right where he left off. 

S Montae Nicholson, 22—Like Allen, Nicholson’s rookie season was shortened due to injuries. He took advantage of the absence of anticipated starter Su’a Cravens and made an impact from the beginning. While the 2017 fourth-round pick and free-agent pickup D.J. Swearinger were in the lineup the decade-long struggles the Redskins have had at the safety position were suddenly gone. 

Best of the rest: WR Josh Doctson (25), C Chase Roullier (25)

It should be noted that DL Daron Payne turned 21 in May and RB Derrius Guice will the 21 later this month so they could be joining this list soon. Assuming those two start, the Redskins will have nine quality starters aged 25 or younger this year. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline  

Redskins wide receiver Jamison Crowder was born on this date in 1993. 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 39
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 53
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 76

The Redskins last played a game 166 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 84 days. 

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