Nationals

Dave Johnson: Wizards Losing Streak Reaches Eight

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Dave Johnson: Wizards Losing Streak Reaches Eight

Monday, March 15, 2010 11:38pm

Wizards vs. Jazz Game Highlights & Postgame

By Dave Johnson
CSNWashington.comSalt Lake City----The game was played at Energy Solutions Arena and the Washington Wizards could have used one. Instead with Deron Williams running the offense and Carlos Boozer finishing at the basket the Jazz extended the Wizards losing streak to eight games with a 112-89 victory.We lost some close ones and we have lost ones when we got out butt kicked, Wizards coach Flip Saunders said of his teams slide. If they think it is just going to happen and get better, its not. We have to play accordingly and we cant play loose or have throw- away type possessions.A game that was tied at 25 after one quarter turned into a one-sided affair in the second quarter when Williams penetration into the lane and his ability to run the screen and roll proved to be too much for the Wizards to handle.Boozer was the biggest beneficiary of Williams playmaking skills as he led the Jazz with 23 points including nine in what turned out to be the decisive second quarter. Williams finished with 17 points and 11 assists and helped the Jazz outscore the Wizards in the second quarter 34-20.He (Williams) pushed up the tempo in that stretch at the end of half and extended their lead to 14,said Wizards coach Flip Saunders of the games sudden turn in the Jazzs favor.The Jazz then put the Wizards away by opening the second half on a 12-2 run to take a 71-47 lead with 7:18 left in the third quarter. During this stretch the Wizards even missed four shots close to the basket on one possession only to have the Jazz score with ease in transition on a 23-foot jump shot by Mehmet Okur.We came out of halftime and did not have energy, Saunders added. I told our guys I was disappointed because we really didnt seem to compete again until there was seven minutes left in the game and we were down by thirty.The Wizards did compete early. In the first quarter Mike Miller was making cuts and looking for his shot and scored 12 points to help the Wizards get off to the necessary good start on the road against the Jazz.While the Wizards did hang around in the first half of the second quarter, the offense sputtered. After Millers early surge, he only finished with 14 points. Andray Blatche once again led the Wizards in scoring with 24 points.The Jazz offense was just too efficient. Again with full credit to Williams leadership the Jazz were able to get 52 points in the paint, place seven players in double figures, and collect 28 assists.There was a change in the Wizards starting lineup. Shaun Livingston, who had his best game since being signed by the Wizards in an 18-point effort Saturday against the Magic, started over Randy Foye at the point. It was Livingston first start in an NBA game since April of lasts season with Oklahoma City,Livingston only had six points and three assists against Jazz, but Saunders saw positives in his play on a night when the Wizards played poorly as a team and only shot 36 percent from the field for the game.We put Randy in a situation because we havent had a choice, Saunders said of his decision to make a switch. The point is not his natural position. He is good to play there for a ten minute period where you can run some plays for him and run some pick and rolls. I think he is more suited to play off the ball.As the Wizards try to move forward, they can look to the Jazz for a model of how to get better. They (Jazz) have done a good job with personnel, Saunders noted. They went through a bad stretch and they were able to get a marquee player in Deron Williams. When you go through a bad stretch somehow you have to reload.You have to do it through free agency, the draft, or both. They went out and got Boozer and Okur and then Williams through the draft. They used their cap space and they used their draft picks wisely. Hopefully we will be able to do the same.

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Nats rookie Juan Soto makes second MLB debut, retroactively hits HR on first-ever MLB at-bat

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USA Today Sports

Nats rookie Juan Soto makes second MLB debut, retroactively hits HR on first-ever MLB at-bat

The Washington Nationals hosted the New York Yankees to finish a once-suspended game, tied at 3-3 in the sixth inning. Though it seemed like just a makeup, it was anything but for rookie Juan Soto.

It’s true that Soto struck out as a pinch hitter in his first-ever game on May 20. Since then, the 19-year-old has caught fire, batting .312 with five home runs and 12 RBI in 23 games this season.

But the makeup of the suspended game took place on May 15, five days before Soto was called up from Double-A to give the Nats an extra bat. Soto would make his major league debut once again.

Though it’s uncommon for a player to compete in a game prior to his major-league debut, it’s been done before. Barry Bonds hit a go-ahead single in a suspended game that dated a month before his debut. Closer Jeff Reardon threw a scoreless inning and picked up a win in a suspended game nearly two months before his debut, as well.              

After Anthony Rendon hit an opposite-field single in the bottom of the sixth, Soto pinch hit for Matt Adams who has missed the previous two games with a hand injury.                                                  

And Soto, with a chance to change his first career at-bat from a pinch-hit strikeout to anything but, did just that. He turned on a fastball and sent a rocket to right field. Aaron Judge took a few steps before looking up toward the bleachers. The ball landed in the second deck.

Talk about a first career at-bat. A no-doubt, two-run shot to give the Nationals the lead in a game that took place before his first major-league debut.

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Texas A&M big man Robert Williams likes potential fit with Wizards, John Wall

Texas A&M big man Robert Williams likes potential fit with Wizards, John Wall

In terms of the needs on their roster and the guys most likely to be available when they are on the clock at No. 15 in the first round, few players in this draft class seem as obvious a fit with the Washington Wizards more than Robert Williams of Texas A&M. So, it was no surprise that he not only visited them in Washington on Monday, but received the only individual public workout they have held during this year's predraft process.

Williams could be the answer to their longstanding quest for an athletic big man. No need to bring in five other guys for the usual six-player workout when Williams deserves a longer and more extensive look than most prospects they are considering.

The 20-year-old was put through a variety of drills Monday afternoon, just days before the 2018 NBA Draft. He likes the fit with Washington, if that's how things end up sorting out.

"I definitely feel like they could use a big like me, a defensive-style athletic big like me. I definitely see myself fitting here," he said.

Williams is one of the best big men in this year's draft. He is 6-foot-9 and 240 pounds with a 7-5 wingspan. He used that length to dominate in the paint at the college level.

Williams averaged a modest 10.4 points for the Aggies in 2017-18, but also 9.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks. That was his sophomore year. He averaged 8.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks as a freshman.

He was a shot-blocking force the day he stepped on campus and believes those skills will translate to the professional ranks. In the NBA, Williams believes he can thrive because his defensive versatility will be even more valuable in a day and age where switching is paramount.

"I feel like I can guard all positions. That’s one of my biggest attributes," he said. "It’s just about embracing it, having fun stopping a guard. Once you’re comfortable with it, you can do it."

Williams may adapt to the NBA quickly on the defensive end and that's where the Wizards need help the most. They haven't had a consistent rim-protector in years. Last season, point guard John Wall led the team in blocks per game.

Offense is where the questions lie with Williams. He wasn't a big scorer in college and does not have much of an outside shot. The fact he shot just 47.1 percent from the free throw line this past season suggests he has a lot of work to do before he can stretch the floor.

Williams will need to find a niche offensively, likely as a rim-runner off pick-and-rolls. He sees a lot of potential in a possible pick-and-roll pairing with Wall.

"He’s an elite passer and an elite guard. Coming off a pick-and-roll, you have to pay attention to him as well as have to pay attention to me as well. It’s a win-win situation," Williams said.

Williams believes his offensive game will open up with more space at the NBA level. The Wizards have Wall surrounded by three-point shooters in Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and Markieff Morris. Toss Williams into the middle and he could go to work in the paint doing the rest.

If Williams were drafted by the Wizards, he could look at Clint Capela of the Houston Rockets as a model to follow. Like Houston, the Wizards have two All-Star guards. An athletic big man who doesn't need plays run for him could be the perfect complement.

No one needs to tell Williams that, he is well-aware. He said that at nearly every stop during the predraft process Capela's name has come up.

"I knew that’s what you were going to say," Williams said to a reporter (raises hand) who asked about the Capela comparison.

Williams continued to say they are different players and it's not entirely fair to compare them. That exchange showed Williams has an edge to him, sort of like Morris. He's clearly not afraid to be honest when some players would not.

Despite downplaying the comparison, Williams can see what makes Capela successful.

"I’ve watched him. He’s a great player," Williams said. "He is around the right people. He just plays his role. He runs off a lot of screens. He gets up there and does what he has to do."

Williams is gearing up for Thursday's draft and trying to decide who he will walk the stage with, as the NBA has introduced a new tradition of each player walking with two people. He said it will likely be his mother and sister. Perhaps by the end of the night he will also walk that stage wearing a Washington Wizards hat.

For more on Williams, check out our extensive draft profile on him.

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