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Film study: This is what defensive IQ and effort look like for Wizards

Film study: This is what defensive IQ and effort look like for Wizards

The three three-point shots from John Wall put the Philadelphia 76ers to bed in the third quarter before it was official 109-93 on Saturday. The type of defensive effort they lacked in the first half, however, was there and it's how the outcome turned. 

When teams such as the Chicago Bulls open a game making 8 of 10 threes, or the Boston Celtics 8 of 11, that second or third effort to recover to shooters is absent. But it was a different story in the second half last night.

These are all defensive plays to show the difference in how contesting shooters can/will alter the accuracy more often than not. It wasn't one player for the Wizards. It was Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat making the wise decisions on when to and when not to fight over screens, anticipate and contest. 

The Sixers shot 50% in the first half en route to 56 points. They shot 33% in the second half for 37 points. 


Make no mistake about Jahlil Okafor. He got his with 26 points on 16 shots. But the problem is he does it to the detriment of his own teammates, often becoming a black hole when he gets the ball anywhere near the paint and killing the ball movement. When the Sixers gave the Wizards difficulty, they were cutting, slicing and using weakside screen action to free scorers. Here, Gortat gets him taking the most difficult shot possible and forcing Okafor to step back:

This is a 2-for-1. Beal goes under Okafor's screen to free Nik Stauskas, taking away the paint for a drive but still being close enough to contest if he decides to pull up from three.

Wall plays soft on T.J. McConnell, who'd prefer to attack the rim rather than pull up. He makes him take the shot he'd least want to take (disregard the error in my tweet, there was no screen) and is able to contest like Beal in the previous example. 

The biggest weakness in Morris' game is his motor, being consistent in his second efforts to get through screens to contest. Ersan Ilyasova, who had 18 points in the first half, didn't score in the second half. He shot 0-for-4. Morris fought off a moving screen by Okafor that wasn't called to contest anyway.

This quick and simple contest by Porter doesn't seem like much but it is. He seeks out the shooter trailing in transtion, the most dangerous option when the rim is closed off. The Wizards did a poor job of this on Stauskas in the first meeting when he shot 6-for-8. He finished 1-for-9, including 0-for-7 from three. 

MORE WIZARDS: By the numbers: Wizards' home streak reaches 11

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Former NBA Commissioner David Stern has emergency brain surgery

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Former NBA Commissioner David Stern has emergency brain surgery

The NBA says former Commissioner David Stern suffered a sudden brain hemorrhage Thursday and had emergency surgery.

The league says in a statement its thoughts and prayers are with the 77-year-old Stern's family.

Stern served exactly 30 years as the NBA's longest-tenured commissioner before Adam Silver replaced him on Feb. 1, 2014. Stern has remained affiliated with the league with the title of commissioner emeritus and has remained active in his other interests, such as sports technology.

Zach Brook contributed to this report.


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Wizards, Rui Hachimura get a glimpse at Rookie of the Year favorite Ja Morant

Wizards, Rui Hachimura get a glimpse at Rookie of the Year favorite Ja Morant

For a game featuring a 7-16 Wizards team and the 8-16 Grizzlies, Saturday's matchup packs plenty of intrigue. 

With Rui Hachimura showing plenty of promise in Washington and Ja Morant nearly running away with the Rookie of the Year Award, we're all in for a classic battle of two of the game's best newcomers. 

Outside of that for the Wizards, Saturday night should absolutely be a win. The Grizzlies are 24th in NET rating (25th offense, 21st defense) and while their young core is as promising as any in the league, they don't quite know how to put together wins yet. 

Here's a breakdown of two players the Wizards should be wary of. 

Ja Morant

As we stated earlier with Morant, he's been far and away the best rookie this season. He's averaging 18.7 points, 6.4 assists and 3.2 rebounds on 46.3 percent from the field and 42.2 percent from three. 

Morant had the generational physical tools and exciting upside that got him drafted second overall, the question was whether he'd be able to put it all together at the NBA level, especially playing the hardest position in the league as a lead guard. 

It's safe to say he's answered almost all of those questions just 19 games into his career. 

The Wizards will have to contain his drives to the rim and force him into contested jump shots, which is a lot easier said than done for this defense. 

If they can't keep him in front and he starts breaking down the defense off the dribble, look out. He could mess around and get a triple-double. 

Jaren Jackson Jr.

Before the Grizzlies drafted Morant, Jackson was their crowned jewel prospect. Don't get me wrong, he's still one of the best young players in the league, it's just a testament with how good Morant has been. 

Jackson has the potential to be one of the best defenders in the league one day. When he's playing well, he provides the Grizzlies defense incredible versatility since he can switch onto nearly every position while being able to protect the paint and rebound at a high level. 

Then on the offensive end, Jackson can stretch the floor on pick and pops (37.8 percent 3P) and put the ball on the deck to attack closeouts. He truly is the embodiment of the modern NBA center. 

The Wizards have been used to paint-dominant centers after playing the Sixers and Nuggets over the last few weeks. Jackson just might present a better matchup for their injury-riddled frontcourt. 

Washington would be wise to use Moe Wagner to keep him stretched out of the paint and then take advantage of the Grizzlies suspect perimeter defense to get to the basket. That is, of course, if Wagner can stay on the floor. 

The Wizards and Grizzlies are scheduled to tip at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, and you can catch all of our coverage on NBC Sports Washington.