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Blazers pound Wizards 108-98: Five takeaways

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Blazers pound Wizards 108-98: Five takeaways

The Portland Trail Blazers had just been embarrassed by the NBA's worst team two nights ago, so they came into Monday's game at Verizon Center ready to make amends. The Wizards, on the heels of an emotional loss to the Boston Celtics, didn't have the same energy as they lost for the fifth time in six home games.

Marcin Gortat (16 points, 13 rebounds) led the Wizards but after they took their first lead of the game, 60-59, to open the third quarter on Garrett Temple's three-pointer then it was all downhill.

Portland (19-25) went on a 23-1 run, led by C.J. McCollum (25 points), Myers Leonard (18), Damian Lillard (16) Alan Crabbe (14) and Mason Plumlee (10 points, 11 rebounds).

Temple (18 points), Bradley Beal (16), Gary Neal (11), Jared Dudley (10) and Ramon Sessions (10) gave the Wizards a jolt offensively but they couldn't get stops on the other end. John Wall (nine points, 10 assists) wasn't himself.

The Wizards already have more home losses (13) than they had all of last season.

  • On the first play of the game, the Wizards had a botched coverage on Lillard's first basket which was a drive for a layup. They didn't change much with their scheme but this showed a lack of preparedness even though the game plan had been established. It's all about recognizing personnel. McCollum rarely goes all the way to the basket. He will pull up for jump shots every time. Lillard tends to pass or stop his dribble and pull up going left. He's more prone to going all the way to the basket going right. The Wizards had poor recognition with personnel.

  • Nene and Gortat, who started together the past two seasons, shared the court for the first time to combat one of the better rebounding teams in the league. Nene was limited to 12 minutes in the last game because the Wizards were playing the second game of a back-to-back so coach Randy Wittman, who had to be measured with how he used him there, had him on the court 17 minutes. They duo was together from 5:38 of the first quarter when Nene entered for Dudley trailing 19-6, and that lasted until Gortat checked out at 1:42 as they remained down 22-12. In the third, the deficit was pronounced with them together. Nene checked in at 7:54 to play with Gortat and the Wizards down 68-61. When Gortat left at 3:59, they were down 84-65. Gortat was  6 of 8 in the first half in 18 minutes. In eight minutes of the third, Gortat didn't a shot attempt as the spacing on the court wasn't as good to receive the pocket passes from Dudley (four) for layups. The combination doesn't work particularly when bigs like Leonard are making 4 of 7 three-point shots. 

  • After playing a season-high 44 minutes on Saturday and missing the game-tying layup because his legs were drained, Wall was flat. He shot just 4-for-17 and missed four consecutive open mid-range jump shots as Portland went on that run after halftime to put the game away. With the game long over, Wall played until less than three minutes were left with the outcome decided. He played 36 minutes and given how this game went should've been less than 30.

  • Portland made 17 of 31 three-pointers, most of them clean looks, for 55%, and had a 48-35 edge in rebounding. It's hard to win if you're the Wizards with those numbers, even having just nine turnovers

  • In a game like this, the Wizards needed Beal who still is on a minutes restriction. In part because of him, they were able to trim a 17-point deficit to 59-57 at halftime. The spacing on the floor wasn't good with no one hitting shots early. Beal made 2 of 3 three-point shots in the first half and it changed the tone for the better but it couldn't last. Still, there are communication issues that go back the previous few seasons with him not moving off the ball. It led to a turnover by Nene who was trying to direct him and he ended up making a bad pass instead. If Beal had moved where directed, he would've had an open shot. Nene was correct.

RELATED: NBA gives John Wall another honor for standout performance

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After setbacks in rehab, John Wall is appreciating the little things in life

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After setbacks in rehab, John Wall is appreciating the little things in life

WASHINGTON -- John Wall has been all smiles in public when discussing his rehab from Achilles surgery. He has even remarked how smoothly this recovery has gone compared to others he's underwent in the past.

But his road back from a ruptured left Achilles has not been entirely free of obstacles. He revealed to NBC Sports Washington on the Wizards Talk podcast recently that he dealt with an infection that delayed him getting out of his walking boot.

That was already weeks after he first had surgery to remove bone spurs from his heel in January. He had a series of infections following that procedure, one of which helped doctors discover his Achilles had torn during a fall in his home.

Wall can admit now after the fact it was a difficult time for him.

"I've just put in a lot of hard work," he said. "For me to be where I'm at right now, with all the setbacks and infections and then finding out my Achilles was ruptured and then going through another infection, it was like 'man, when can I ever get past that point of just getting out of the boot and walking?'"

What made that last part particularly frustrating was where Wall makes his offseason home. He summers in Miami, a place notorious for its humidity.

"I was in Miami during the summertime in a boot. Like, man, I don't want to be in hot Miami in a boot, sweating," he said.

Nowadays, things are much better for Wall. He is doing on-court work at the Wizards' practice facility. He can shoot jumpers and do individual ball-handling and passing drills. He can jog and lift weights.

After months of waiting to just have his walking boot come off, Wall is very appreciative to simply be able to do anything on the basketball court.

"Just to do the ball-handling and be able to shoot and do the weight-lifting, that's a great aspect [of my progress]. It makes it easier for me because I'm in a great space where it's fun," he said. 

"I'm able to do what I'm able to do, even if I'm not playing at a high speed and running up and down, I'm able to shoot and do ball-handling. That's what I love to do."

Wall continues to make progress, now nine months removed from the Achilles surgery he had on Feb. 12. He is likely to be out at least three more months, and he could miss all of the 2019-20 season.

At some point, Wall may get restless, but he continues to preach patience towards his return. When asked by Chris Miller if he will start bothering the coaches soon to play, he said he's just happy to be back on the court in practice.

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Moe Wagner isn't the only Wizards with a questionable golf swing

Moe Wagner isn't the only Wizards with a questionable golf swing

With the grind of the NBA season preparing to get underway, the Washington Wizards are spending some time off the court as a way to relax and have some fun. On Monday, the team headed to Top Golf to take some hacks, and we were treated to a breakdown of each player's swing.

As you can see, some like head coach Scott Brooks have a pretty smooth swing. However, the same cannot be said about others.

Take for example Moe Wagner. 

The newly acquired Wizard started off promising with a solid stance, bent knees and all. But, the wind up showed that there were clearly some quirks in his mechanics. Then, the worst thing possible happened: a missed ball. No one will really judge if the swing isn't the prettiest, considering his job is to play basketball, but to come up empty hurts.

Wagner wasn't alone in his misfortunes, however. Jordan McRae also had some trouble getting his club to connect with the ball. But, as they say, third times the charm.

As for other poor swings, Davis Bertans and Thomas Bryant had success hitting the ball, it just didn't look all too pretty.

For Bryant, he may be taking the concept of getting a low, solid base, quite too literally. With Bertans, the movement on his back leg followed by a quick swing is, well, interesting to say the least.

But, fear not, Washington does have a few players who at least look like they've picked up a golf club before. 

Even rookie Rui Hachimura showed off a pretty decent stroke.

While the videos did provide a good laugh, it's safe to say that most of these guys shouldn't quit their day jobs.

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