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Five observations from the Wizards' 116-112 loss to the Kings

Five observations from the Wizards' 116-112 loss to the Kings

The Washington Wizards lost to the Sacramento Kings 116-112 on Friday night. Here are five observations from the game...

Yikes: This is technically a new season, yet the Wizards look a whole lot like the 2017-18 version of them so far through five games.

They dropped to 1-4 on the year on Friday night and lost in a very familiar way. This one included poor execution on late game plays and an inability to get stops. And this defeat came against a team, Sacramento, that is very likely to miss the postseason this year.

After playing four good teams to start the season, this was supposed to be the game where their schedule started to soften. Yet, they couldn't take advantage. Why write a new story when you can just copy and paste?

Beal banged up: The Wizards got two pieces of positive injury news on Friday with Ian Mahinmi getting cleared to return from back spasms and Bradley Beal getting the go-ahead as a gametime decision despite dealing with a chest contusion. Beal missed shootaround after suffering the injury in Wednesday's loss to the Warriors and was nearly held out of this one.

Though Beal played, he wasn't himself. He shot 31.6 percent (6-for-19) for the game. At halftime, he was 2-for-12 from the field and 1-for-8 from three.

Already with a chest issue, Beal took a hard fall in the second quarter and banged his head on a camera held by a photographer sitting on the baseline. It was an unlucky fall and it was clearly very painful.

With Dwight Howard already out, the Wizards can ill-afford another key player to get injured. Beal is obviously very important to their success.

He had 21 points and five rebounds, but also five turnovers. Two of his giveaways were just careless mistakes that came in the closing minutes. He simply lost control of the ball. You don't see unforced errors like that from him very often.

Oubre remains hot: For the third straight game, Kelly Oubre Jr. came off the Wizards' bench and immediately made an impact offensively. In this one, he popped off for 11 points in his first eight minutes, knocking down three of his first four threes.

Oubre ended up with 22 points, nine rebounds a steal and a block. He tied a career-high with five threes. He just continues to ooze confidence on the offensive end.  

Oubre caught fire in the first half and then again in the second half. On one play, he used a behind-the-back move to get past Justin Jackson and finish through contact for an and-one. Minutes later, he beat the buzzer to end the third quarter with a pull-up three from halfcourt.

Oubre looked lost in the preseason and got off to a brief slow start to begin the regular season. But now he's rolling and, at the moment, looking like a guy who is raising his stock in a contract year.

Oubre, though, ended up committing a bad turnover late in the fourth quarter. He was closed out on the baseline, yet decided to drive in that direction and it was easily stolen. Though Oubre continues to show promise, he has trouble putting together complete games.

Porter was off: While Oubre had it going, Otto Porter Jr. was off in just about every aspect of the game. He is off to a slow start offensively this season and that continued in this one, as he scored just five points on 2-for-6 shooting.

What was most bizarre was the fact Porter didn't do much of anything else in his 21 minutes of play. Usually, Porter will fill the box score in other ways and often end up with a better +/- than the rest of the starters.

That was not the case tonight and clearly head coach Scott Brooks thought he didn't have it on this particular night. Brooks yanked Porter quickly in the fourth quarter after he committed a travel.

Wall keeps getting to the line: John Wall has for years complained that he doesn't get the calls he deserves, that he doesn't get the same treatment as other stars. So far this season, he has had nothing to gripe about.

This season, he's collecting free throw attempts like they are designer sunglasses. He went 7-for-8 from the line on Friday and is now averaging 9.2 free throw attempts through five games. 

That average would rank near the top of the league in any year and it's something Wall has long been capable of. He can get to the rim as well as just about anyone in the NBA and has the strength to finish through contact. The refs are calling games a little tighter this season, so maybe Wall can use that to his advantage.

In addition to 26 points and eight assists, Wall also had three blocks and three steals. It was the eighth time in his career he's done that.

The negatives for Wall continue to be with his shooting. He is now 3-for-23 to start the year from long range.


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Markieff Morris gives young fan a shooting lesson he'll never forget

Markieff Morris gives young fan a shooting lesson he'll never forget

Markieff Morris didn't just start at power forward Friday night for the Wizards against the Sacramento Kings.

Before the game, he put on his coaching cap and taught one lucky young fan, Sameh Fananapazir, how to shoot a jumper. 

And by the looks of it, Morris is a great shooting instructor. Check out that form!

Can the Wizards sign him to a contract? In this day and age, you can never have enough shooters. 

Regardless, that's one lesson that kid will never forget.


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Three things to watch for Wizards at Kings, including John Wall vs. De'Aaron Fox

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Three things to watch for Wizards at Kings, including John Wall vs. De'Aaron Fox

John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle De'Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley III, Buddy Hield and the Sacramento Kings on Friday night. Tipoff is at 10 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

Here are three things to watch...

Bounce-back needed

The Wizards knew the first four games of their 2018-19 schedule would be particularly tough, as all four opponents - the Heat, Raptors, Blazers and Warriors - were in the playoffs last year. Add in injuries to their top two centers and some late game mistakes, and the Wizards walked away 1-3. It was not an ideal start.

Now, their schedule is technically due to lighten up. Though they remain on the road, they will play the Kings, Clippers and Grizzlies to close out their trip. All three times are likely bound for the lottery.

The Wizards can stabilize by getting some wins against teams they should be able to beat. After last year, when they had only 20 wins against sub-.500 teams, fewest for any playoff team, that may be easier said than done. But this isn't last year, so perhaps they can take care of business this time.

Areas for improvement

So far, defense has been an issue for the Wizards. They are allowing a league-high 124.5 points per game after giving up 144 to the Warriors and going to overtime with the Blazers. The Kings, meanwhile, have their offense surging. They are seventh in points per game, third in field goal percentage (50.8) and fourth in three-point percentage (40). 

Sacramento can't defend, but they can score. They have second-year guard De'Aaron Fox (17.6 ppg, 6.6 apg) pushing the pace with others cashing in. Willie Cauley-Stein (16.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg), Buddy Hield (16.2 ppg, 47.6 3PT%) and Marvin Bagley III (14.2 ppg, 7.0 rpg) are all off to good starts.

Fox leads the charge and he will once again go up against Wizards point guard John Wall. Many compare the two as former Kentucky standouts who stand 6-foot-4 and boast blazing speed.

Beyond their defense, the Wizards could use more from a few of their key players. Otto Porter Jr. is averaging 12 points while shooting 23.5 percent from three. Jeff Green is putting up a solid 10.3 points, but on 41.7 percent shooting.

Austin Rivers is averaging just 8.3 points and shooting 40.6 percent from the field and 30 percent from three. Tomas Satoransky is shooting only 18.2 percent and Wall, though he is scoring and dishing assists, is shooting just 41.3 percent from the field and 11.8 percent from long range.

No. 2 pick

This will be the Wizards' first look at Bagley, who went second overall in June's NBA Draft. Only 19 years old, Bagley can do a little bit of everything. He is a very good shooter for a big man, he can rebound and he did a solid job of protecting the rim in college.

Between him and Cauley-Stein, the Kings have two big men who were recent top-6 draft picks. They are young and athletic and could pose a challenge for the Wizards, who are going to be without Dwight Howard (gluteal soreness) and possibly missing Ian Mahinmi (back spasms) again as well.