Wizards

Quick Links

Hawks' backup Jose Calderon shocks Wizards with 'podium game'

Hawks' backup Jose Calderon shocks Wizards with 'podium game'

ATLANTA -- Jose Calderon had a podium game against the Wizards. Jose Calderon, a backup point guard for the Atlanta Hawks who routinely is out of his element when attempting to defend anyone in the starting backcourt.

Not so much Monday, when he took on a bigger role with Dennis Schroder's three first-quarter fouls changing the tone. The Hawks went from down 27-18 to ahead 59-50 at halftime behind the spark provided by Calderon (10 points, five assists) and Kent Bazemore (16 points, seven assists) in a 111-101 victory in Game 4 to tie the series at 2.

"I always think I'm going to be on the podium," Calderon said after playing 20 minutes and making 4 of 9 shots, inlcuding two three-pointers. 

Calderon, 35, is in his 12th NBA season and rarely has had success against the physical, athletic backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal. The Wizards couldn't exploit is defensive deficiences.

"They both played well," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said of Calderon and Bazemore. "One thing I do know about Jose -- I don't know him but I've seen him enough -- he's a winner. He's a winning basketball player.

"He came in, played well, took care of the game. ... He makes winning basketball plays for every team he's been on."

Bazemore isn't a creator off the dribble. Usually, he's a turnover waiting to happen if he dribbles too much but he led his team in assists -- off the bench. 

[RELATED: Toughness and defense are two reasons Wizards lost Game 4]

While the Wizards would tie it at 77 entering the fourth, that was enough for Schroder to come back and not have to play from a hole. He could be aggressive and was as he finished with 18 points. All came in the second half. 

This was Calderon's night. He was a free agent after getting his release from the L.A. Lakers and was signing with the Golden State Warrors.

Their needs changed, however, after Kevin Durant's knee injury late in the season and they chose to go with a forward, Matt Barnes, instead.

That left Calderon a free agent again and coach Mike Budenholzer, who also is the Hawks' team president, pounced.

"Jose Calderon, pretty special with what he did tonight with Dennis in foul trouble," Budenholzer said. "Dennis has been such a huge part of the first three games. So much of what we do is through Dennis.

"We need to send a little thank-you note to the Warriors. No doubt, Jose has infected us with his spirit. He's been great."

Calderon's final bucket came at 9:11 of the fourth quarter, when the Hawks began pulling away after the score was tied at 77 after the third had ended. 

He slipped in front of the Wizards' defenders for a tip-in and an 89-81 lead. There was no recovery from it. 

[RELATED: Brandon Jennings says Game 5 'is a must-win game']

Quick Links

3 things to watch for improved Wizards vs. Cavs

3 things to watch for improved Wizards vs. Cavs

The Washington Wizards still have John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter. The Cleveland Cavaliers no longer employ LeBron James. That makes Wednesday’s first meeting of the season between the Eastern Conference foes curious. The radical change for the visitors also requires a preview. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

Here are three things to watch...

Sustaining the surge

Monday’s 117-109 victory over the Orlando Magic extended the Wizards’ winning streak to a season-high two. Don't knock the modest uptick after a 2-9 start. John Wall’s stat line took a big leap over the last three games: 24.0 points, 10.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 45.5 percent on 3-pointers. Beyond the numbers, the point guard appears to have knocked off the remaining rust physically. We’re used to his aggressive end-to-end pushes, but now Wall is firing up the court immediately after makes or misses, helping Washington quickly enter its offensive sets. Another strong outing from the five-time All-Star could propel the Wizards to their first three-game winning streak since Feb. 10-22.

Quick rematch

Starters Wall, Bradley Beal, Dwight Howard and Markieff Morris had solid games against the Magic, but the Wizards’ second unit played above previous season norms. All five reserves finished with a plus-minus of plus-8 or better. Jeff Green continued his sizzling shooting, sinking 4 of 5 from beyond the arc en route to 18 points. The 6-foot-9 forward is 9 of 13 from beyond the arc overall during the last four games, and 21 of 28 overall. Backcourt partners Austin Rivers and Tomas Satoransky, slow to develop chemistry this season, showed increased comfort during the winning streak. Washington needs more from the pair to help keep minutes for Wall and Beal at reasonable levels.

Cleveland doesn’t rock

From four consecutive NBA Finals appearances to the NBA’s worst record (2-11, tied with Phoenix). Yeah, the Cavaliers miss LeBron James just a little. They also are down Kevin Love (toe surgery), leaving Jordan Clarkson (15.2) and Rodney Hood (12.9) as Cleveland’s top scorers. That’s not ideal. The Cavaliers are 27th in scoring (103.3) while giving up 113.1 points per game, which is better than Washington’s league-worst 118.5. Rookie point guard Collin Sexton, the No. 8 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft, is filling in for the injured George Hill. Sexton is averaging 17.0 points over the last three games.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

Quick Links

Wizards were reportedly unwilling to trade Bradley Beal in potential Jimmy Butler deal

beal-butler-wolves-wizards.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Wizards were reportedly unwilling to trade Bradley Beal in potential Jimmy Butler deal

A sluggish start and a handful of woefully inefficient defensive efforts had the Wizards looking for answers early into the 2018-19 NBA season.

But making a major trade was not something the Washington front office was willing to do. As the Jimmy Butler saga reached its climax in Minneapolis, the Timberwolves reportedly attempted to strike of a conversation with the Wizards regarding Bradley Beal.

The details, reported by Marc Stein in his latest New York Times newsletter (via ProBasketballTalk), are minimal, but it sounds like the Wizards quickly brushed the discussion aside as Beal has remained off-limits in their eyes.

Word is the Wolves did try to engage Washington — another team falling well short of expectations — in trade talks for the sharpshooting guard Bradley Beal. But the Wizards have kept Beal off limits amid their 4-9 start. They would naturally prefer to trade the struggling Otto Porter, or perhaps even John Wall, but both possess hard-to-move contracts. 

Otto Porter, like many of his teammates, started the season in the wrong direction. But trading Porter is a tricky situation, one the Wizards organization probably doesn't want to pursue given the contract he was signed to just over a year ago. Trying to trade John Wall would be even more difficult.

Ultimately, the Timberwolves dealt Butler to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Wizards rattled off weekend wins over ht eHeat and Magic, and while not equal to making a blockbuster trade, it does show that the Wizards can make an internal fix to what ails them. 

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: