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Morning tip: Brooks ponders fixes for Wizards' 2nd unit after loss to Hawks

Morning tip: Brooks ponders fixes for Wizards' 2nd unit after loss to Hawks

ATLANTA -- The first three shots taken by bench players, two from Andrew Nicholson and one by Trey Burke, went in. That's pretty much where the highlights ended for the Wizards' reserves in a 114-99 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. The rest of the time they were at a loss at what to do in half-court offense.

"There were a lot of times you couldn't hear the play call," said forward-center Jason Smith, who had four turnovers in just nine minutes. "It was a great away atmosphere. We have to learn to deal with that. We have to learn maybe some visual cues on what the play is, maybe some silent calls what the play is but really get it out there so everybody see it. As long as we get into what we're running no matter how loud it is, we all know what we're doing. We'll be OK."

The biggest weakness with the Wizards in previous seasons was a bench that was inconsistent. This group is younger and has more versatility, but basic communication was a problem with Burke who is in his first year in Washington.

After Kelly Oubre opened the second quarter with a three-pointer for a 30-29 lead, the Hawks went on a 9-0 run. Marcus Thornton missed a three-pointer, Smith stepped out of bounds after grabbing a defensive rebound, Oubre missed a layup, Smith missed a jumper, Burke had a bad pass turnover, Oubre missed a three, Nicholson missed consecutive shots and had a turnover. 

Coach Scott Brooks saw enough and was forced to call a timeout. He trusted the group and sent them back out again and Burke was short on his jump shot.

"The thing I'm thinking of now, it's just one game," Brooks said. "They will get better. We will play better. I thought that second unit, we still have to figure out how we can score. We have to really just focus on getting stops helping us score. ... It was an entire team issue. We're all in it together. We have to figure out how to keep scoring, keep moving the ball with that second unit."

Wall made an assessment of what he wants to see from Burke, who is slotted above Tomas Satoransky as the primary backup.

"We got lost at times when we weren't moving the ball," Wall said. "Defensively, we just lost our man and that hurt. I think they've got to get into sets more. Trey got to do a better job of calling out (plays) so everybody can hear it so you don't have certain people running one play and some people running another play."

Last season, the reserves were run by Ramon Sessions. They didn't try to play in flow as much as Wall with the first unit, going into immediate pick-and-roll action to put the defense on its heels. They preferred a more structured half-court offense.

"First, we have to get on the same page. It's a lot easier if we would get stops on the defensive end," said Smith. "Then we could push the ball out where we won't have to get into sets. We could get easy transition baskets, easy drive-and-kick in transition. ... It's tough for any team to score on a set defense."

Nicholson had nine points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes. Burke was 4 of 7 but Oubre shot 1-for-6 and Thornton 2-for-8. 

"I don't think you can point the finger at anybody. Me being the point guard out there, I feel I could've done a better job setting things up," Burke said. "It's Game 1. You can't take too much from Game 1. We can definitely get better from it. We don't think it was the offensive end. It's definitley the defensive end.

"It's contagious. If your defense is slacking, your offense is going to be slacking. If the other team is scoring easy buckets on the offensive end, defesnviely they're fired up. It's a two way street for both units."

[RELATED: Wall falls hard on previously broken hand]

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Wizards take down another contender with win over Raptors in NBA 2K simulation

Wizards take down another contender with win over Raptors in NBA 2K simulation

Not only are the Washington Wizards dominating the NBA 2K simulation, but they are also doing it against some tough competition. 

With a 70-61 win over the Toronto Raptors, Washington has now won seven of nine simulations. Other victories have come against the likes of the Bucks, Lakers and 76ers. In the 2K world, the Wizards are consistently beating the best.

In the latest win, the formula remained the same as past simulations. Behind another big night from Rui Hachimura (21 points) and some added scoring from Bradley Beal (12 points), the Wizards offense was able to put up enough to get past Toronto. Timely runs in the second half and some stingy defense left the Raptors with no chance to mount a comeback as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

Here are some key takeaways from the Wizards win.

Rui keeps on rolling 

There has been no stopping the Wizards rookie in 2K as of late. With 21 points, he now has back-to-back 20-point performances. The first-round pick of Washington in 2019 has been doing it on both ends of the floor, sparking big plays with blocks and finishing at the rim.

Hachimura also stepped behind the line and showed some range on Tuesday, hitting a smooth-looking three-pointer.

It's been a great 2K run for Hachimura overall as of late, as he also took down Donovan Mitchell in the first round of the 2K Player Tournament.

Strong finish

Though the Wizards played well throughout, it was a dominant stretch toward the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth that sealed the win.

A 16-6 run to close the third coupled with a 16-3 run early in the fourth gave Washington a comfortable lead. After taking a 42-41 lead in the third, the Raptors would never lead again.


Dominant inside, efficient outside

Similar to other simulations, the Wizards once again did a lot of their scoring inside the paint. Washington outscored the Raptors 46-32 in the paint, finishing at the rim in multiple ways consistently. 

Thomas Bryant was once again a beast down low, throwing down dunks and recording a team-high 16 rebounds in addition to 10 points to complete a double-double.

Though the real NBA has become a three-point heavy game, it hasn't quite translated to 2K. The Wizards only attempted eight shots from behind the arc on the night, a number that could sometimes come from just a few possessions in a real game. Even more peculiar, Davis Bertans didn't register a single three-point attempt. 

Yet, the Wizards made the most of the attempts, going 4-from-8 from three. Of course, Bradley Beal was in the mix.

Run for the (simulation) playoffs?

In the 2K universe, the Wizards entered Tuesday just two games behind the Brooklyn Nets for the eighth spot in the East. With a win, the virtual team may have inched even closer to the playoffs. 

Simulation-wise, Washington could not have asked for a better stretch of play.

The 2K Wizards will be back in action Friday at 7 p.m. ET against the Rockets. 

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Wizards' Troy Brown Jr. says it was scary hearing Rudy Gobert contracted coronavirus

Wizards' Troy Brown Jr. says it was scary hearing Rudy Gobert contracted coronavirus

By the time Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus and the NBA subsequently suspended the 2019-20 season, a number of teams who'd played Utah leading up to the suspension had to self-quarantine as a precaution. 

One of them was the Washington Wizards.

They suffered a 10-point loss to the Jazz 12 days before Gobert tested positive, so they urged their players to self-quarantine for several days. Fortunately for the Wizards, no player ended up tested positive for the virus.

Washington's second-year wing joined Chris Miller on the Wizards Talk Podcast and gave a window into what his reaction was to the fact he had played the Jazz leading up to Gobert's positive test. 

"I wasn't touching [Gobert]," Brown said with a laugh. "I didn't go in for no layups or anything like that. But all jokes aside though, it was one of those things that was scary because I didn't know really what to expect coming out of it."

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Heading into the league's suspension, Brown was enjoying a strong season where he showed a lot of improvement from his rookie year. He was averaging 9.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists on much better shooting splits (45.3% FG, 34.5% 3P in 19-20 vs. 41.5% FG, 31.9% 3P in 18-19). 

Brown seemed to have much more success coming off the bench with a unit in which he had more ball-handling opportunities. We'll see if he can continue to grow when basketball returns, though the 20-year-old is forced to focus on the challenges that come with isolation. 

"It definitely is a lot easier being with my family and being in my own space and being able to make decisions for myself," Brown said. "Being in D.C. was kind of hard because I didn't have anybody else there besides my dog, living by myself in quarantine. I feel like it's those people that are struggling with the quarantine stuff being isolated by themselves because you don't really know what to do."

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