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Four-point play: Rebounding from momentum shifts key Wizards' win


Four-point play: Rebounding from momentum shifts key Wizards' win

Plenty happened during the Washington Wizards' 104-98 road win over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday in Game 1 of their best-of-7 series against the Atlanta Hawks. Here's a look at some of the lineup, rebounding, streaky and historic action that took place while spinning it forward to Game 2 on Tuesday.

Taking a break

During the first half and early in the third quarter, NBA Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer called timeout whenever the Wizards gained significant ground on the Hawks. Three times these stoppages in play not only led to Atlanta regrouping, but a notable counter-surge. 

Deeper into the second half, perhaps Budenholzer waited too long before trying to change momentum.

First quarter: Otto Porter and Drew Gooden enter, immediately sparking a Wizards 8-0 run to tie the game at 20-20 with 4:11 remaining in the period. Timeout, Atlanta. Hawks then pull ahead with a 13-2 run in less than three minutes.

Second quarter: Bradley Beal scores four points during a 6-0 spurt as the Wizards trim the Hawks' lead to 41-36 with 6:18 left before halftime. Timeout, Atlanta. Kyle Korver hits a 3-pointer seven seconds after play resumes, starting an 8-4 run. The Hawks lead 63-53 at halftime.

Third quarter: Here they go again. John Wall sinks three jumpers and an 8-0 run cuts the lead to 65-61 with 8:15 left in the period. Timeout. Atlanta. Hawks soar upon returning with seven straight points for a 72-61 lead with 6:37 remaining.

Washington coach Randy Wittman calls a timeout at that point -- and Pierce drained a 3-pointer on the next possession. That started a closing surge in the period as the Wizards outscored the Hawks 20-11 to trail 83-81 entering the fourth.

Two timeouts took place early in the fourth quarter - one official and one called by the Wizards. By the time Budenholzer asks for one with 3:49 remaining in the game, Washington is already ahead for good. Atlanta's next offensive trip comes up empty. Washington's does not. Porter's 3-pointer puts the Wizards up 98-91 with 3:16 left.

The Wizards easily could have wilted in Game 1 on the road against the top seed after falling behind several times by double digits. That didn't happen no matter how times the momentum shifted against them.

Points and boards

The heralded lineup with Paul Pierce and Porter at forward - and flanked by Wall, Beal and Marcin Gortat - played 10 minutes together in Game 1. Unlike the previous series against Toronto, they lost ground against Atlanta. Hardly a disaster, but the 5-man unit finished with a net rating* of minus-6.6 despite robust offensive numbers (126.3). The same group went plus-36 in the four game sweep over The Raptors.

(* Difference in offensive and defensive rating. Each of those ratings shows points generated or allowed per 100 possessions)

Perhaps the biggest concern going forward lies with the rebounding. According to NBA.com, this smallish lineup only grabbed 37.5 percent of any available defensive rebounds, easily the worst for any of Washington's lineup (The standard starting five look with Nene replacing Porter snagged 76.9 percent). Against Toronto, the Pierce-Porter-Wall-Beal-Gortat unit grabbed 82.6 of all defensive rebound chances.

Overall, the Wizards finished with 54-52 rebounding advantage, but the Hawks edged them out on the offensive boards (16-15).  Atlanta ranked 27th in rebounding overall and was the NBA's worst offensive rebounding team during the regular season, but didn't look like it when constant crashing led to six official shot attempts - all missed - on one possession inside the final two minutes. Washington finished tied for sixth in rebounding this season.

Matching up

Atlanta forward Paul Millsap is a matchup nightmare for the Wizards. He can shoot over and drive past bigger defenders (Nene, Drew Gooden) on the perimeter and pound smaller options (Pierce) inside. He nearly had a triple-double in Game 1 (15 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists), but only finished 6 of 17 from the field including 1 of 4 from beyond the 3-point arc. Don't count on Millsap missing so many open looks in the next game, but expect the versatile forward to remain a pest this series.

Meanwhile, Washington finished with a net rating of plus-24 with Porter on the court and a minus-16.6 when the small forward sat. The lithe 6-foot-8 forward grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds and scored 10 points for his double-double. As was the case against Toronto, Porter's took advantage of the defense focusing attention elsewhere with constant movement and strong basketball instincts. That led to open shots that he made and being in position for caroms off the glass which the two-way threat grabbed.

History lesson

The Hawks lost despite holding a 10-point halftime lead. That's not only a dagger for the Eastern Conference's top seed, but a rare scenario in playoff history. From the Elias Sports Bureau: This is just the second time a No. 1 seed lost a game in the first or second round in which it led by double digits at halftime, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Allen Iverson-led Philadelphia 76ers lost their first game of the 2001 playoffs despite holding a double-digit lead against the Indiana Pacers. The 76ers eventually reached the NBA Finals. (h/t ESPN).

RELATED: [Stephen Curry edges out James Harden for 2014--15 MVP]

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The 2018 NBA Doomsday Mock Draft: A comical look at every team's worst-case scenario


The 2018 NBA Doomsday Mock Draft: A comical look at every team's worst-case scenario

The 2018 NBA Draft takes place on Thursday, June 21 and once again provides a glimmer of hope for even the most downtrodden franchises.

The NBA Draft is where teams can prepare for the future; where teams can rebuild and reload.

But the NBA Draft is often a crapshoot. Teams waffle on taking the best fit versus the best available player. Teams often panic and rest on laurels of draft years past. Fans like to build draft stereotypes for individual franchises, and while a lot of that is stupid Internet conjecture, it's fun to talk about and is often some actual truth to it.

So what follows is a look at the Doomsday Mock Draft. What your favorite team is likely to do if all else fails, which it often does.

1. Phoenix Suns: A franchise center who spends his first contract working with the Suns' medical staff more than his teammates.

2. Sacramento Kings: Someone who won't be a member of the Kings by the time 2022 rolls around.

3. Atlanta Hawks: Someone that will make Dennis Schroder unhappy.

4. Memphis Grizzlies: A Mike Conley Jr. repair kit.

5. Dallas Mavericks: Not the heir apparent to Dirk Nowitzki.

6. Orlando Magic: A reach that won't pan out.

7. Chicago Bulls: Someone from Iowa State, probably.


9. New York Knicks: /inserts .GIF of Spike Lee looking disappointed/

10. Philadelphia 76ers: Another big man because HINKIE 4 LYFE.

11. Charlotte Hornets: A North Carolina Tar Heel.

12. Los Angeles Clippers: A playmate for the head coach's son.

13. Los Angeles Clippers: DeAndre Jordan 2.0.

14. Denver Nuggets: Yet another athletic guard.

15. Washington Wizards: Nope. Not touching this one.

16. Phoenix Suns: Someone to pass Devon Booker the ball.

17. Milwaukee Bucks: Wingspan. Nothing but wingspan.

18. San Antonio Spurs: One of the Space Jam villains who conveniently falls to the Spurs (See: Leonard, Kawhi. Anderson, Kyle. Murray, Dejounte)

19. Atlanta Hawks: Someone to replace Dennis Schroder.

20. Minnesota Timberwolves: Someone who Tom Thibideau can play 60 minutes of a 48-minute game.

21. Utah Jazz: A real glue guy. A gym rat. A high-motor guy. Intangibles. Grit. Moxie. 

22. Chicago Bulls: A two-way player who will ultimately get punched in the face by Bobby Portis.



25. Los Angeles Lakers: The subject of Lonzo Ball's next diss track.

26. Philadelphia 76ers: A pallet of knockoff burner phones.

27. Boston Celtics: A draft night trade for more draft picks they probably won't use.

28. Golden State Warriors: An unfairly good player.

29. Brooklyn Nets: An unfairly bad player.

30. Atlanta Hawks: We ran out of Dennis Schroder jokes.


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NBA Draft 2018: Jerome Robinson likes potential fit with the Wizards

USA Today Sports

NBA Draft 2018: Jerome Robinson likes potential fit with the Wizards

With the No. 15 pick in the first round of the 2018 NBA Draft, the Washington Wizards could go any number of different ways Thursday night.

They could bolster their frontcourt and select a big man. They could draft an uber-athletic wing and move more toward positionless basketball. Or the Wizards could take a guard to help build depth in the backcourt behind John Wall and Bradley Beal.

Enter Jerome Robinson, a three-year player at Boston College who led the ACC in three-point percentage and was second in scoring last season. He had a private workout with the Wizards on Wednesday morning, and got the chance to showcase the skill that earned him First Team All-ACC honors during his junior season.

In Washington, Robinson has the opportunity to come in without needing to be a difference-maker right away. He'd primarily be the backup shooting guard behind Beal and could push to see some minutes at the three when the Wizards go small. Though he was the go-to guy in college, he sounded ready to play alongside two stars in Washington.

"They’ve got two All-Star caliber players at the one and the two and I can also be a contributor with those guys as well," Robinson said after his workout. "[They have] a great offense and great defense as well. Also a great coach and front office."

Robinson was the only player to work out for the Wizards on Wednesday, so showing the team what he can do on the court was easy, but it wasn't the only area that drew his focus. He didn't meet with the Wizards at the NBA Combine in Chicago, so the visit also served as an introductory meeting between Robinson and team personnel, he said.

"I’m just coming in and showing them the kind of person that I am. Talking to these guys is important," Robinson said.

Over his three years at Boston College, Robinson turned himself into an excellent three-point shooter and improved in almost every major statistical category. A 40.9 percent three-point shooter as a junior, Robinson brought his average up almost seven percentage points from his sophomore season, when he shot 33.3 percent from deep. He also boosted his field goal percentage from 42.9 to 48.5 percent and his free throw percentage from 64.3 to 83 percent.

The numbers are a testament to his dedication to his craft, but also are evidence of his grasp of the game and how he fits into it. It's one thing in particular he wanted to show the Wizards.

"Just my understanding of the game. I think that’s what’s big and I think that’s something that fits into the NBA seamlessly for me," Robinson said. "Playing the right way and showing them what kind of player I am is what I go in and try to do."

There's no telling exactly which way the Wizards will go Thursday night, but if they end up picking Robinson, there may be an early level of comfort as both he and Wall are from Raleigh, North Carolina.

"It would be awesome to play with another guy from Raleigh," Robinson said. "We’ve got that same kind of grit. You’ve seen what he’s done so far and I think it would be exciting to play with him."

From Capital One Arena, he'll travel to New York to be there for draft night. Maybe by the end of the night, he'll be walking around with a Wizards hat on his head.