Wizards

The First Lady, David Beckham and SpongeBob

The First Lady, David Beckham and SpongeBob

Michelle Obama gets into the Olympic spirit with David Beckham ... and SpongeBob.

Photo Credit: Getty Images



Quick Links

Wizards' loss to Bulls ensures they'll finish under .500 as clock ticks down on season

wiz-bulls.jpg
USA TODAY SPORTS

Wizards' loss to Bulls ensures they'll finish under .500 as clock ticks down on season

The Washington Wizards lost to the Chicago Bulls 126-120 on Wednesday night. Here are five observations from the game...

1. Among the Wizards shortcomings this season, road games and the first games of back-to-backs have been their most stubborn bugaboos. On Wednesday, those problems loomed large against a Chicago Bulls team that already isn't good and was missing several key players.

The Bulls were without Zach LaVine, Wendell Carter Jr. and Otto Porter Jr., among others, yet the Wizards still couldn't take advantage. They are now 8-28 on the road this season. Only four teams have been worse. Washington is now 2-12 in the first games of back-to-backs.

The Wizards have lost three of four and two straight. Only 10 games remain in the season and they are 30-42. At this point, it might take a miracle for them to make the playoffs. 

2. Well, at least Jabari Parker enjoyed himself.

Parker has made it no secret he was not happy with his time in Chicago and more specifically how coach Jim Boylen treated him. He clearly has an ax to grind against the Bulls.

On Wednesday, Parker was a force with 28 points in 38 minutes. He shot 3-for-5 from three and had six rebounds and two blocks.

3. Bobby Portis also got some revenge on his former team, in a way. He was called for a Flagrant 1 foul late in the fourth quarter when he smacked Lauri Markkanen in the face on a rebound attempt.

It was hard to tell even on slow-motion replays if the contact was intentional or inadvertent, but he got Markkanen pretty good.

This, of course, isn't the first time Portis has hit a Bulls player in the face. The last time earned him an eight-game suspension and an awkward locker room at United Center.

4. The second half began with some injury news, as Trevor Ariza was ruled out during halftime with a groin strain. The severity wasn't initially clear and we probably won't know until at least tomorrow how serious it is.

At this point, with the Wizards fading into the pack in the playoff race, there is no reason to push it. Even if the injury is minor, it would make sense if he didn't play on Thursday against the Nuggets in the second game of a back-to-back.

Ariza, of course, also has his contract future in mind. He has 10 games left in this season before he hits free agency. And as the Wizards get closer and closer to elimination, we could see some changes in how players like Ariza and others are treated in terms of minutes restrictions.

5. Troy Brown Jr. started in Ariza's place to begin the second half and ended up logging 30 minutes on the night. He played well with nine points and a career-high 10 rebounds.

Whether Ariza misses time or not, Brown should get more minutes going forward. There is no reason why he shouldn't play at least 20 minutes, if not something closer to 30 minutes, each night for the rest of the season.

Not only has Brown played well enough to earn a larger role, having shown the promise expected of a 15th overall pick, but the Wizards need to develop him into a legitimate rotation piece for next season.

With John Wall likely to miss most of next season, if not all of it, due to injury, they need Brown to be a factor. It would really help if he could continue to improve as a point guard and serve as at least a primary backup to Tomas Satoransky or whoever starts at the position next year.

The future should be now for Brown.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: 

Quick Links

Lightning strikes twice: Caps lose to Tampa for second time in five days

Lightning strikes twice: Caps lose to Tampa for second time in five days

The Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning met for the second time in five days on Wednesday, but Washington was not able to avenge its earlier loss and fell 5-4 in overtime.

Evgeny Kuznetsov scored with less than a minute remaining in regulation to tie the game and give Washington a point in the standings. The bigger loss may have come in the second period when defenseman Michal Kempny had to be helped down the tunnel after suffering a lower-body injury.

Here are five reasons the Caps lost.

Untimely penalties

The Caps looked fantastic in the first period. They were getting long shifts in the offensive zone and not letting Tampa Bay get its offense set up at all. Washington outshot the Lightning 15-5 through 20 minutes in a margin that was fairly representative of how the game was going to that point.

But everything seemed to turn with 33 seconds remaining. Tom Wilson was called for holding Victor Hedman in the neutral zone giving Tampa Bay’s lethal power play their first opportunity of the night. Washington escaped the first period with the 1-0 lead, but was not able to kill off the penalty.

Less than a minute after Nikita Kucherov tied the game, Alex Ovechkin was called for elbowing and again, the Lightning converted.

The Caps battled back from a 3-1 deficit to tie it, but just 26 seconds after T.J. Oshie’s game-tying goal, Dmitry Orlov was booked for slashing. You can guess what happened.

Special teams

Can I interest you in a 100-percent power play? Because that’s what Tampa Bay managed on Wednesday.

Had the Lightning beaten the Caps in the playoffs last season, the power play would have been a major reason why. It was just as lethal as ever on Wednesday as Tampa Bay converted on all three of its power play chances. The power play allowed the Lighting to take a 1-0 deficit and turn it into a 2-1 lead at the start of the second period. When Washington tied the game at 3, the power play again struck to put Tampa Bay up again, this time for good.

The Caps’ power play, meanwhile, converted only once on six opportunities. You are going to have a hard time winning a game when you are giving up 100-percent on the man advantage and only scoring at about 17-percent of your own power plays.

Losing Michal Kempny

Losing two points against the Lightning in the regular season is not ideal given the tight division race, but it is not the end of the world. The much bigger loss could potentially be the loss of Kempny who suffered a lower-body injury in the second period and did not return.

The play occurred after Kempny took issue with a hit from Cedric Paquette that looked like a possible board. Kempny reacted with a shot to the face of Paquette followed by a shove after the whistle which sparked a melee between the two. The two sparred along the boards and Paquette grabbed Kempny and took him down to the ice. Kempny fell awkwardly and it appeared his left leg was caught up underneath him. He was helped very slowly down the tunnel and did not appear to be putting any weight on his left leg at all. The Caps declared him out for the game before the third period began.

Losing a top-pairing defenseman against an offense as dangerous as Tampa Bay’s is a serious blow even though the Bolts were held off the board after that point.

Victor Hedman takes advantage of Alex Ovechkin losing his edge

In overtime, Ovechkin took the puck up the ice for perhaps another vintage Ovechkin moment. The play never materialized, however, as Ovechkin lost his skate edge and fell. That allowed Victor Hedman to take the puck in the opposite direction on the rush. When Hedman saw he was given room to work with, he took it on net and backhanded the shot past Holtby for the overtime winner.

Andrei Vasilevskiy

The Caps did their best to make Vasilevskiy uncomfortable all game long by firing a franchise-record 58 shots on goal.

Vasilevskiy turned aside 54 of the 58 shots he faced, however, to make sure Tampa Bay never trailed after the early 1-0 deficit.