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Film study: What leads to Wizards' leaky 3-point defense

Film study: What leads to Wizards' leaky 3-point defense

Increasingly, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat are being put in favorable positions. I wrote, in part, about how they can make opposing defenses pay for their coverages when John Wall and Bradley Beal are on the ball.

But this look at how they can perform better is strictly about defense. Whatever their shortcomings down the stretch in losses to the Houstson Rockets and Dallas Mavericks on the offensive side, they allowed Eric Gordon, Wesley Matthews, Deron Williams, Devin Harris, Harrison Barnes and Seth Curry to shoot out the lights. A lot of the looks were clean or came via late closeouts. These players combined to shoot 22-for-39 from three-point range, or 56.4 percent.

"Houston, in that third quarter, of the seven (threes) we gave up I want to say six of them were mistakes. We have to correct that," coach Scott Brooks said Thursday, before they play the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday. "Dallas was the same way. We knew going into the Dallas game they’re one of the league leaders in running the shot clock down to under six seconds before they get a shot and if you relax they’re going to burn you. That’s what happened. We have to do a better job. We have to stay focused. This game is about focus. It’s not about anything other than just being ready to execute the game plan every minute you’re on the court and we have not done a good job with that in the last game and maybe one quarter in Houston.”

There's ample evidence:

Exhibit A: It's unclear what Beal was thinking here, but he clearly lost track of Harris after running the baseline. He is confused who he's covering (should be Harris) and is keying in on Matthews. Both are lethal but the problem here is Kelly Oubre has Matthews in his sights, though he's not aggressively double-teaming Barnes as he tries to get his shot over the undersized Wall in the paint. Instead of trying to guess what Oubre is doing, Beal has to maintain discipline and stick with his man by trusting Oubre will do his job. Oubre has a 7-2 wingspan and can make the recovery to Matthews to contest if he sucks in too far on Barnes. Given Harris' hot hand, leaving him alone from the short corner is not an option. 

[RELATED: Can Morris and Gortat make opponents pay?]

Exhibit B: Under no circumstances should Curry be allowed to get this shot off. He not only does so, but there's no coverage. Porter tries to prevent the switch on Barnes' screen. Thornton initially goes the wrong direction to try to get over. Porter needed to use a contact show to slow down Curry coming off the screen which would give Thornton time to recover. He gets no contact on Curry to make him turn at a wider angle or throw off his rhythm. The confusion here is so pronounced between the two it's difficult to determine exactly what they were thinking the other was thinking. 

Exhibit C: What Porter was trying to do in Exhibit B, this is what he initially accomplishes as Curry and Barnes repeatedly reset the screen-roll action to force the switch. He stops Barnes' roll and prevents Curry from going back to his left to get the shot. He allows Thornton to recover. When Curry can't get his shot off he reverses field and goes back to the action. Porter doesn't get contact on the show and Curry reverses direction yet again. Thornton is stuck. He runs into Porter this time and it forces the switch. Barnes now has the matchup he wants, backs down the smaller defender and gets the fallaway jumper from his sweet spot. For some players this is a difficult shot. Not for Barnes.

Exhibit D: In order for Beal to be in better help position to get to Curry, he had to be level on the flare screen by Dwight Powell that picks off Wall and prevents a contest. Beal does his best to challenge but with a shooter like Curry that's too much separation. He needed to be up higher, rely on the help behind him and force the ball to Powell who then would have the pressure  of making the shot on the move or the right read. 

Exhibit E: When Porter decides to swtich it's too late. He gets sucked in too deep as Matthews fills the opposite corner with Barnes on this floppy action. Beal appears to be in good position to switch -- Marcin Gortat points out where to go -- but he gets pinned under Salah Mejri's screen.

Exhibit F: Porter simply leaves Barnes, similar to how Beal left Harris uncovered in the first example. All it takes is the extra pass from Matthews, who now is being closed out by two Wizards, for the open three for Barnes. Beal tries to cover for Porter's mistake but it's too late.

Exhibit G: This was from two games ago in Houstson. Oubre immediately switches to take away Gordon's look, but Thornton didn't get the memo. He continues to fight to get back to Gordon and totally forgets about Trevor Ariza, who is left wide open in his sweet spot for the short corner three. 

Exhibit H: Nene is driving and Gortat is in position to contest the 7-footer at the rim. Nene isn't a strong finisher on the move, though he did have it going in this game. There was no reason for Oubre to suck in to take away a possible difficult two-point shot at the expense of leaving Gordon wide open for a three-point shot.

[RELATED: Tough road to All-Star Game for Wizards' backcourt]

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Another 40-point game from Bradley Beal not enough as Wizards fall to Jazz

Another 40-point game from Bradley Beal not enough as Wizards fall to Jazz

The Washington Wizards lost to the Utah Jazz 129-119 on Friday night. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

1. Only one spot in the standings separates the Wizards from the playoff picture, but it sure doesn't seem like it at the moment.

With their loss to the Jazz on Friday night, the Wizards have dropped four of five coming out of the All-Star break. They have lost nine straight games to the Jazz going back to 2016.

If the Wizards are going to figure it out soon, they will have to do so on the road. Their loss to Utah kicked off a four-game West Coast road swing.

The Wizards are now 21-37 on the season. That puts them on pace for 30 wins.

2. Within the context of this week, 30 points on Wednesday against the Nets qualified as an off-night for Bradley Beal. On Friday, he was back to his early-week form with 42 points, including 23 in the first half alone.

Beal also added 10 assists, five rebounds and two steals. He shot 17-for-33 overall and 6-for-15 from long range.

This was Beal's 10th 40-point game of the year, which is two off the franchise record for a single season. The problem is the Wizards are 1-9 in those games.

This was Beal's 17th straight 25-point game, which is tied for the longest streak ever in Wizards/Bullets history. He tied Walt Bellamy, who set the record in the 1961-62 season.

3. Some day years from now, when Rui Hachimura is asked if he remembers his 'welcome to the NBA' moment, he's probably going to answer with what Donovan Mitchell did to him in the first half on Friday night.

Mitchell threw down one of the more vicious poster dunks you will see, and it all happened in the halfcourt. Mitchell is just a different type of dunker and he got Hachimura at the perfect time with a jump off two feet.

 

On one hand, good for Hachimura for meeting him at the rim. But, man, that was ugly.

4. That moment aside, Hachimura had a solid night in the box score. He poured in 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting and added seven rebounds and three steals.

Hachimura's consistency scoring the ball already as a rookie continues to impress. This was his 35th career game and his 26th with double-figure points and his 18th with 15 points or more.

But also consistent is Hachimura's trajectory as a scorer. It was another game where he started off hot, then cooled down to disappear late.

5. It appears that Troy Brown Jr.'s decrease in minutes on Wednesday was not a one-time thing. He again took a backseat to Jerome Robinson, who played 22 minutes compared to Brown's 18.

Head coach Scott Brooks explained the move on Wednesday by saying "minutes are going to be competitive" now that the team is healthy. Robinson has evidently been showing Brooks more in recent games.

The best guess is that it involves defense. Robinson has been more impressive on that end than he has been on offense. He is a physical perimeter defender and the Wizards can use more of that.

One play in the first half demonstrated that well. He checked Jordan Clarkson at the three-point line and trailed him off the dribble to the baseline where he stuffed him to force a jumpball. It was the type of contest we haven't seen enough of from the Wizards this season.

Brown, though, has a chance to respond and he was more aggressive attacking the rim against the Jazz. That is a good sign.

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Justin Bieber's new No. 1 album features production from ex-Wizard JaVale McGee

Justin Bieber's new No. 1 album features production from ex-Wizard JaVale McGee

Former Wizard Javale McGee has a well-known reputation in the NBA for his emphatic dunks, and his name is cemented in NBA history with two championships. Now McGee can add a No. 1 album to his list of accomplishments.

McGee, who currently is helping the Los Angeles Lakers maintain the best record in the Western Conference, was listed as a contributor on the song "Available" on Justin Bieber's new hit album “Changes.” 

McGee took advantage of constantly being on the road during his career and began networking with major players in the music industry, before meeting Jason "Poo Bear" Boyd, one of Bieber's producers in 2013.

"I was in the studio with Poo Bear around November of last year," McGee told the New York Times in an article published Friday. "I didn’t know who I was making music for. I was playing some songs and samples and he stopped on this one sample that I had made. He looped it, put it in the computer and we just started writing to it. We ended up writing the whole song, but there were no drums or anything." 

McGee said a few months later when he was speaking with Boyd, he was notified that he was on the album. 

"It was amazing," McGee said. "Justin Bieber is one of the, if not the, top artists out there. So to be able to keep working and produce something for an artist like that is amazing."

Another slam-dunk.

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