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Martin making most of training camp experience


Martin making most of training camp experience

Moments after the Wizards' Thursday night, split-squad scrimmage restarted following a mid-session break, Cartier Martin drained a 3-pointer from the wing. Another trip or two down the court later, the 6-foot-7 swingman splashed one in from the deep left corner. Moments later and back beyond the arc, another successful 3-ball splash.

Watching Martin knock down shots from long range is not a stunner, seeing as his 38.7 percentage from distance last season led the Wizards. The shocker is simply seeing the perennial late season signee with the team at this stage of the campaign.

"It feels good, it feels really good to start from the beginning, get a feel for the whole system from the beginning," said Martin during Monday's Media Day. "This is basically a dream come true for me."

The four-year veteran's NBA experience includes three total stints with the Wizards. As Washington looked to fill in an injury-depleted roster over the final weeks of last season, Martin averaged 9.3 points in 17 games. Needing perimeter help, Washington resigned the former Kansas State star this offseason.

Following Thursday's shooting display, Wizards coach Randy Wittman said of Martin, "It's always tough bringing someone in in March and getting them to fit in. He's comfortable obviously because he was with was us at the end of last year and he's doing a nice job."

Armed with a consistent touch from long range enhances the 27-year-old Texan's comfort level on the court.

"As a shooter, I'm always confident," Martin said after Thursday's practice. "Earlier, a couple hadn't been going down for me, but the main thing for me is to keep shooting and trust in my shot. These guys have confidence in me that I can shoot the ball, and I go out there and shoot it."

Part of the battle for small forward minutes behind presumed starter Trevor Ariza, Martin's versatility extends into the backcourt and with his ability to defend a variety of wing players. After years of living as a professional basketball-playing vagabond with stops in China, Turkey, two additional NBA cities and elsewhere, Martin used the knowledge that he had a place to call home to his advantage during the offseason.

"You know exactly what you need to work on once you know the program where you're going too. I talked with the coaches, I knew what they wanted me to work on, I worked on those things to get myself better and to be a better player for the Wizards."

Martin ticked off a laundry list of items he's been practicing, including "working off the dribble pick-and-rolls...Catching and shooting is one of the things I'm doing well right now. I'm working on one-dribble, two-dribble pull-ups, and just getting into my scene and finding open shots."

Wittman has repeatedly emphasized the competition for minutes in this camp and how the players will ultimately determine their lot in the team's rotation.

"Hey, I'm confident that they'll use me in the best way to be able to help us win games," Martin said. "So whatever they ask me, I'm a team player, I'm going to go out there and play my role."

At least this time, Martin will play the role, any role, from the start.

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Five observations from Wizards' overtime loss to the Celtics, including John Wall's return

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Five observations from Wizards' overtime loss to the Celtics, including John Wall's return

The Washington Wizards lost to the Boston Celtics 130-125 in overtime on Wednesday night. Here are five observations from the game...

1. Tough loss: No matter the stakes, the location or the personnel, the Wizards and Celtics always seem to bring the best out of each other. On Wednesday, they went to overtime for the third time in their past four meetings.

John Wall and Kyrie Irving put in All-Star performances, but a series of clutch shots by Irving in the final period proved the difference in a Celtics win. On one, to put the Celtics ahead by two with under a minute to go, Irving swished a three with Wall all over him. Mostly, he dashed past defenders and finished with spin off the glass.

The Wizards lost their third straight game and fell to 11-17 on the season.

2. Wall was back: After missing one game due to bone spurs in his left heel, John Wall returned to the Wizards lineup. Though he took 26 shots and had five turnovers, he played well for the most part.

Wall ended up with 34 points, 13 assists, six rebounds, two steals and a block. He had 10 points in the fourth quarter alone.

The best part of Wall's night early on was his defense. He was more engaged  and disciplined than usual. Though it's nearly impossible to stay in front of Irving, Wall did a solid job disrupting his path to the rim. 

Wall's defense trailed off at times in the second half, but overall it was a solid return for the five-time All-Star. Though Irving scored a lot of points, he shot 12-for-28, and Wall did his part to limit him, at least until late.

This game had a major injury scare for Wall. After making a layup with just over two minutes remaining in overtime, he hit the floor and stayed there in obvious pain. Trainers rushed to his aid and checked out the back of his right leg. Somehow, he was able to return.

3. Horrible third quarter: The first half was among the most impressive the Wizards have played this season. Finally, they were putting together a complete performance on both ends of the floor. They didn't go down by 20, which has been customary even in many of their wins.

Things were going well through two quarters, but then the third quarter happened, and the Celtics essentially dominated for a 12-minute stretch. They outscored the Wizards 38-22 in the frame and shot 61.9 percent, knocking down 4-of-7 from three. 

Boston forced the issue for the most part, but the Wizards made their share of mistakes to give them opportunities. They had seven turnovers in the third quarter with Bradley Beal (22 points, seven rebounds) accounting for three of them on his own. 

The Wizards forced overtime by outdoing the Celtics by seven points in the fourth. It was the third time in four meetings these teams have gone an extra period.

4. Porter was out: Though Wall came back, the Wizards were without starting forward Otto Porter Jr. Porter missed his third game of the season, this time due to a right knee contusion which he suffered in Monday's loss to the Pacers.

Porter was close, but was ruled out after going through a pregame workout as a gametime decision. One member of the coaching staff remarked to NBC Sports Washington before the game he expected Porter to play, so clearly he was very close to giving it a go.

It would be surprising if he didn't play on Friday. It's just a really bad bruise.

5. Dekker played, Brown didn't: Though Sam Dekker was acquired just a few days ago in a trade, he appears to be ahead of Troy Brown Jr. on the depth chart. Porter's absence meant head coach Scott Brooks had to go deeper on his bench than usual, and it was Dekker who got the nod.

Brown was the team's first round pick in June, but at only 19 years old is being brought along very slowly. He is barely getting any floor time at all, while others in his draft class are playing rotation minutes. 

Take Robert Williams, for instance. The Celtics' first round pick, who was taken 12 spots after Brown at 27th, played 14 minutes on Wednesday. 

Williams, by the way, was impressive. He had a nice block on Dekker and a slam off a pick-and-roll that drew a big reaction from the crowd. He can get up there.


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Wizards release new red alternate jerseys, their fifth uniform


Wizards release new red alternate jerseys, their fifth uniform

The Washington Wizards have another new alternate jersey. On Wednesday, they released pictures of their 'Earned Edition' kit, which is essentially a red version of their 'The District' series.

The Wizards now have five jerseys. They are one of 16 teams with an 'Earned Edition' because they made the playoffs last season.

Here is a look at the new uniforms:

(photos via WashingtonWizards.com)

Notice the nod to the Washington monument up the sides of the jersey. Also, the D.C. flag on the waistband is a nice touch. 

The Wizards now have red and black versions that say 'The District' on the front. Last season, they they had one in white.

The Wizards will debut the uniform on Dec. 29 when they host the Chralotte Hornets.

Expect them to be mixed in for a few games over the course of the rest of this season.