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Karl on Wizards: 'My gut says don't overreact' to shaky start

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Karl on Wizards: 'My gut says don't overreact' to shaky start

Ever the optimist, Sacramento Kings coach George Karl was somewhat prophetic when asked about the Wizards' ominous start to the season.

"They're just struggling right now. I don't know if it's injuries, I don't know if it's personality, whatever it is. And the East has gotten to be a more difficult schedule," he said before tip-off Monday. "My gut says don't overreact to the first 25 games of the season. The season is long. There's injuries, there's trades, there's teams growing up, maturing. It might take 30 or 40 games before a team comes together just as long as they have a pedigree of the last couple years of pretty damn good basketball. My gut says trust them and they'll figure it out."

The Wizards (12-14), despite having just a seven-man rotation after Gary Neal was a late scratch because of lower back pain, broken open an 84-84 score to start with the fourth quarter and never looked back. John Wall, who set a career-high with 19 assists, didn't even have to score there as Garrett Temple led the way with 10 of his career-high 23 points and Marcin Gortat had season-highs of 27 points and 16 rebounds.

How long can this last is anyone's guess. Until the Wizards are able to string together victories and show they're now consistent in a good way, it's better to hold off judgment. After all, this is the first time they've won back-to-back games since Nov. 21. Coach Randy Wittman tightened his rotation to eight in Saturday's 109-101 win vs. the Charlotte Hornets and went with one fewer Monday.

"The East is so much better. You can't get to far behind," said Jared Dudley, who followed up season highs of 19 points and nine rebounds vs. Charlotte with 13 points against Sacramento, including a crucial three-pointer to begin the fourth. "For us having three winnable home games it's tough to get back.

"It's defensively if we can get stops. We've shown we can do it. The question is can you mentally sustain it 48 minutes for all these different games playing this amount of minutes."

Temple logged a season-high 42 minutes, Dudley played 41 to tie a season high for the second game in a row (he reached that limit once in all of last season), Wall 39, Marcin Gortat 37, Ramon Sessions a season-high 31 and rookie Kelly Oubre in his second start went a career-high 33.

"I personally don't feel fatigued at all. I'm ready to play 48 minutes," Gortat said. "I was excited, I had a lot of fun and I was committed to win this game."

The Wizards (12-14) haven't changed their pace-and-space style. They're just moving the ball better, getting open looks and are more committed to defense despite being short on players. They're averaging 111 points in the two wins and giving up 100.

"It shows how much we've worked in the beginning of the season and in training camp to get in shape to keep this pace," Temple said. "I honestly didn't feel tired except maybe one or two times and that was in the first half. That's a credit to Witt being able to get guy in and out. 

"I think we're getting to that point of when to run, how much running will help us even on makes. We got a couple of runs with Marcin running after makes. He's under the basket, outrunning the whole team getting to the (other) basket and getting layups. We held one of the top scoring teams to 99 points with seven guys. That's honestly unheard of to keep the pace that we did, score 113, keep them to 99 and it wasn't a walk-up team. It's a team that likes to run. ... It's a process to get in shape and understand what we have to do defensively  and offensively. I think we're trying to turn that corner."

The identity still is that of a blue-collar, grindhouse style but with more tempo offensively. They just haven't played with that sort of grit consistently. A win at home vs. the Memphis Grizzlies could determine if this team finally has figured things out of if this is just another false alarm (CSN, CSNmidatlantic.com and NBC Sports Live Extra, 6:30 ET).

“Hopefully this can bleed onto other guys that are out watching," Wittman said. "As I told them before Saturday, before (Monday night's game) and after the game who knows we might be down to eight or seven guys on Wednesday. Whoever those eight, nine, seven guys are they’ll do enough if we come and lay it on the line. That’s been proven the last two nights. We didn’t play perfect but we didn’t let any of our mistakes (linger). You couldn’t tell with our energy level and effort."

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Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

The pre-draft workout process can be an exhausting journey for players, with so many flights, hotel rooms and NBA arenas that they can all blend in together. Michigan big man Moritz Wagner, though, may have felt a sense of comfort in Washington for his pre-draft workout for the Wizards on Wednesday.

It was just over a year ago that his Michigan Wolverines cut down the nets at Capital One Arena as champions of the Big Ten conference.

"It was good memories, man. Never gets old," he said while glancing around the stadium.

Wagner, 21, will be seeing a lot more of Capital One Arena once he joins the NBA ranks and it is conceivable he ends up in Washington. They hold the 15th pick in the first round and the 44th pick in the second round and Wagner could be within their reach.

Wagner had an impressive workout in Washington and could provide what the Wizards need. He is a big, mobile and can spread the floor. Wagner was terrific at stepping out to hit threes off pick-and-rolls at Michigan and that ability would work well with Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall.

Wagner measured in at just under 7-feet at this month's NBA Combine, fifth-tallest among those who attended. He averaged 14.6 points as a junior this past season and made 39.4 percent of his threes on 4.1 attempts per game.

With three years of college experience and an NBA-ready jumper, Wagner believes he can step right in and help the Wizards.

"I think what we did at Michigan, sharing the ball and playing as a team, very organized basketball, that can help big-time," he said. "It's basically pro basketball I was playing on a different level."

As Wagner will tell you, he is very confident in his abilities. He is comfortable in his own skin and that includes openly discussing his faults. He feels good about his ability to score at the next level. Defense is where he needs to prove himself.

Despite his size, Wagner wasn't much of a rim protector in college. He averaged just a half-block a game as a junior. The Wizards need rim protection badly and he likely would not provide that.

Wagner, though, believes he can bring more to the table defensively than the numbers would suggest.

"I think I've been an offensive guy all of my life, but the more that you mature as a player, you understand that both sides are important. Without defense, you aren't going to play at any level," he said.

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen, especially with the way the league is going. Switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Wagner is from Germany and looks up to Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki, who is entering his 21st season and will be in the Hall of Fame someday. Nowitzki's game has always been built around shooting and, though he developed into a decent shot-blocker in his prime, was never an elite rim protector.

Wagner hopes to follow in his footsteps playing a similar style.

"He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball," Wagner said. "It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

Hear more from Wagner in his one-on-one interview with Chris Miller in our latest Wizards Tipoff podcast. His interview can also be found in the video above:

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Bradley Beal receives zero All-NBA votes, which itself is a snub

Bradley Beal receives zero All-NBA votes, which itself is a snub

On Thursday the NBA revealed the All-NBA teams for the 2017-18 season.

Not surprisingly, Bradley Beal and John Wall did not make it to one of the three five-player teams. Of the two superstars, only Wall has been recognized once in his career.

What is surprising is that neither Beal nor Wall received a single vote in the whole process, especially Beal.

The 2017-18 season was without question the best in Beal’s career. He played in all 82 games, coming right off of the heals of his All-Star recognition. Beal seems to agree in his snubbing, tweeting this minutes after the teams were announced:

Looking at the list of players who made the top three teams, it shouldn’t be an issue, but these three guys got more votes than the Wizards' duo combined: Steven Adams, Trevor Ariza, and Dwight Howard. It is not surprising that Beal and Wall did not make an All-NBA team. It is odd that Beal didn’t receive a vote.

Here is a list of the full All-NBA Teams:

ALL-NBA FIRST TEAM: 

LeBron James (Cavaliers), James Harden (Rockets), Anthony Davis (Pelicans), Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers), Kevin Durant (Warriors)

ALL-NBA SECOND TEAM:

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), Russell Westbrook (Thunder), Joel Embiid (76ers), LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs), DeMar DeRozan (Raptors)

ALL-NBA THIRD TEAM:

Stephen Curry (Warriors), Victor Oladipo (Pacers), Karl-Anthony Towns (Timberwolves), Jimmy Butler (Timberwolves), Paul George (Thunder)

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