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Hawks hit back with blowout of Wizards: Five takeaways


Hawks hit back with blowout of Wizards: Five takeaways

Surely, adjustments were inevitable by the Atlanta Hawks after they were drubbed on their home floor by the Wizards two days ago. They forced nine more turnovers (18), made four more three-pointers (17) and broke open a close game after halftime.

When it was over, the Wizards (35-36) had their five-game winning streak snapped 122-101 Wednesday at Verizon Center as they again failed to get over .500. They'd won 117-102 in Atlanta on Monday.

Dennis Schroder (23 points, eight assists) led six players in double figures followed by Paul Millsap (17 points, nine rebounds, six assists), Kyle Korver (15 points), Tim Hardaway (14 points), Al Horford (13 points) and Mike Scott (10 points, seven rebounds).

Marcus Thornton (23 points) led the Wizards in scoring, followed by Markieff Morris (19 points, nine rebounds), Marcin Gortat (14 points, 14 rebounds), John Wall (13 points, 10 assists) and Otto Porter (11 points, six rebounds).

The Wizards led 56-52 at halftime as Wall dominated his matchup with Jeff Teague (nine points, six assists). They led 70-67 at 4:34 of the third when the wheels came off. Wall and Bradley Beal (seven points) combined for two points in the third as Atlanta pulled away.

  • Again, the Wizards were willing to allow Teague to beat them from the outside -- keeping him out of the paint -- and he couldn't. When Gortat caught caught on switches, he stayed off Teague, allowed him to jack up a shot that he tried to contest with his wingspan. He didn't block it but Teague didn't make it, either. It was good discipline by the bigs in general to not bite his pump fakes and force him to take threes. Teague shoots almost 40% from distance but it was better than the alternative which is go penetrate the lane for layups or get kick outs to Korver, Kent Bazemore (two points) and Millsap have all of them draining threes. Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer went with Schroder instead and that's when business picked up. They had a 20-7 edge in fast-break points alone and put pace into the game that the Wizards lacked.

  • Korver was a non-factor in the last meeting with only three points in 19 minutes. The Wizards were fortunate as they blew several rotations in that game that left him wide open. Porter was guilty of it then and fell asleep in this one when Korver made consecutive threes. Korver was able to get loose and made 5 of 10 threes. The Hawks pushed the pace with Schroder and got easy looks. They were 17 of 42 from three (40.5%), both season highs. 

  • Morris picked up his third foul by 1:59 of the second and had to go to the bench, but the Wizards were able to get away with Dudley on Millsap. The Hawks went to the matchup but Dudley fought him for position on the low block and forced a turnover. Though Horford is listed as the center, he's spending more time on the arc while Millsap, the stretch power forward, is playing closer to the basket. But Morris' foul trouble (he eventually would foul out) had the Wizards out of sync. Garrett Temple (no points) picked up four fouls in four minutes.

  • Beal was quiet in the first half, getting up just six shots and only making two. He was a non-factor in this game, unlike previously when he combined with Wall for 52 points. Beal only got up eight shots in 32 minutes.

  • Atlanta's bench was too much and kept them close when Teague and the starters were ineffective. It had 66 points, with former Wizards forward Kris Humphries (nine points) and Thabo Sefolosha (eight points) among the contributors. Temple shot 0-for-2, Nene (two points) shot 1-for-5 and Ramon Sessions (two points) went 0-for-3.


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Mystics star Kristi Toliver excited to officially join Wizards coaching staff

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Mystics star Kristi Toliver excited to officially join Wizards coaching staff

After months of serving a variety of roles for the organization, Kristi Toliver now has an official title with the Washington Wizards. The Mystics star has joined Scott Brooks' staff as an assistant coach and assistant for player development.

Toliver, 31, will remain a member of the Mystics, who play their season during the summer. The lack of overlap will allow her to focus much of her time on the Wizards and what she hopes becomes a long and successful coaching career.

She chose joining the Wizards over continuing to play professionally this year overseas, an option many WNBA players use in the offseason. But she has a coaching dream and happens to have caught on with the hometown team.

"This is the opportunity of a lifetime. When it came about, I wanted to be involved in any capacity that I could," Toliver said.

Toliver is the first active WNBA player to serve on an NBA bench and just the second woman after Becky Hammon, who is an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs. Toliver plans to reach out to Hammon after getting her phone number from Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird.

Toliver is honored to be in the same category with Hammon, whom she looked up to first as a player and now as a coach who has become a trailblazer in the profession.

"I know she's going to be somebody that I can ask questions to," Toliver said. "I will pick her brain about how she played and I will pick her brain about how she is coaching."

Hammon joined the Spurs' coaching staff in 2014 after years of helping the team out in other ways. Now that there are two female NBA assistants, the logical question is when one will become a head coach.

Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal can already attest to Toliver's impact and said there could be a female head coach "very soon."

"I wouldn't be surprised if it happened sooner rather than later," Beal said. "If you know the game, you know the game. Plain and simple."

Toliver has served as a coach in the Wizards' 5-on-5 scrimmages at practice. She has also been particularly helpful with ball-handling, which makes sense given she's the starting point guard for the Mystics. Toliver has helped a variety of Wizards players in dribbling drills including the big men like Jeff Green and Dwight Howard.

Coaching has required an adjustment for Toliver, who is used to having the ball in her hands running the offense. But just as being a player can help her as a coach, she expects to become a better player now seeing the game from a new perspective.

"I'd much rather be playing, I know that. But it's good to think the game in a different way and from a different point of view," she said.

Brooks has been effusive in his praise of Toliver ever since she began helping out in the Las Vegas Summer League in July. He invited her to join the staff over the phone shortly before the Summer League began and will admit he did not know at the time the relationship would get this far.

But over the summer, Brooks lost two assistants to other teams in Chad Iske and Sidney Lowe, paving the way for some movement on his staff. He promoted several positions from within and an opening was created for Toliver to come on board.

"She's a special talent. She's going to be moving through the ranks pretty quick," Brooks said.


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Mystics' Kristi Toliver joins Wizards coaching staff for 2018-19 season


Mystics' Kristi Toliver joins Wizards coaching staff for 2018-19 season

It's certainly not uncommon for professional athletes to make the transition into coaching following their playing days. We have seen more and more of this in recent years throughout sports, especially with younger coaches getting the chance to lead teams. 

What is uncommon is when a professional athlete begins their quest for life after playing while they're still playing. 

Washington Mystics veteran guard Kristi Toliver is joining the Wizards' coaching staff, the team announced Tuesday. 

The news comes after the 10-year WNBA pro got her feet wet on the Wizards' bench during Vegas Summer League play in July. 

Along with Elena Delle Donne, Toliver helped lead the Mystics to the 2018 WNBA Finals, before ultimately falling to the Seattle Storm. 

The 31-year-old was drafted third overall by Chicago in 2009 after leading her Maryland Terrapins to a national championship in 2006. 

Toliver will serve as an assistant coach and focus on player development for head coach Scott Brooks. 

Coach Brooks also welcomes Robert Pack and Ryan Richman to the front of the bench. Pack served as assistant coach under Brooks for two seasons during their Oklahoma City Thunder days while Richman led the team during summer leage play and is entering his fifth year in Washington. 

The Wizards open their 2018-19 regular season Thursday against the Miami Heat inside Capital One Arena. Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.