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Morning tip: How Celtics flipped the script on Wizards in Game 5

Morning tip: How Celtics flipped the script on Wizards in Game 5

BOSTON -- The way the pendulum swings decisively from one side to the other in the East semifinals between the Wizards and Boston Celtics continues as each game is decided by large margins. Game 5, won 123-101 by the home team at TD Garden, wasn't any different. 

The Wizards kept Isaiah Thomas to fewer than 20 points for the third game in a row, but the result was different because the role players such as Avery Bradley (29 points), Jae Crowder (18) and Al Horford (19) made them pay.

"They had a lot of energy coming out in the first quarter," Markieff Morris said after his Wizards took a 4-0 lead only to submit to a 16-0 run by Boston. "They adjusted a little bit and by the time we picked up what they was doing they already had a 16-point lead.

"They were leaking out. They made an adjustment when the ball goes up. ... We're going to make that adjustment. We made it in the game and we stopped it but we were already down 16."

The Wizards smothered Thomas who was just 5-for-13 shooting but created better with nine assists. The shooters around him were open. And if they weren't spotting up around the three-point arc they were getting Boston out to a 15-0 edge in fast-break points.

"We took shots. We didn't do a great job of getting back," John Wall said. "Our guards and bigs didn't do a grat job of getting back and they were just running out for layups and threes."

The Wizards' transition defense was in shambles from the start. Otto Porter took Bradley as he pushed the ball up the floor and Wall didn't position himself to cut off Crowder's angle to the basket on the cut. Bradley made a simple pass for a layup and a 13-4 lead. 

Thomas, who is 5-9, set a pindown screen on Marcin Gortat and Bradley Beal to clear the real estate for Horford to step into a three-pointer. These breakdowns came in the first quarter, so fatigue can't be blamed. It was lack of focus.

Every time Wall drove, his defender (Bradley) would hand him off to the bigs in the paint and then he'd sprint to the other end for the outlet. No one shifted to the top to cover Wall upon his dribble penetration to prevent it. 

"They kind of surprised us," Wall said. "They made adjustments. It's something they must've seen ont he film and they killed us in the first quarter."

Morris didn't like how disengaged they were without allowing cutters off the ball to get unobstructed to the rim. When the ball is being trapped out of Thomas' hands, it's inevitable that seams will be created behind the defense. That's where the weak spot is going to be but second effort and recovery can close those off.

"We (weren't) physical enough. We were letting guys cut through the lane without touching them," Morris said. "We know they were going to do that. We were prepaared for that. We did a great job on I.T. but we let too many guys make plays and make shots."

Beal didn't make any of his four three-point attempts. The Celtics had nine more makes from long range with 16, giving them 27 more points than the Wizards in that category. 

"They're doing a good job of changing up their defense a little bit," Beal said. "Try to put I.T. on me a little bit, kind of throw the rhythm of the game off. We take him into the post, we try to hit him and run him off screens as much as possible but they do a good job of knowing my ball screens. They're up, the weakside is pulled over. Isolations? The same thing, the weakside is pulled over. We got to move, get the ball moving. Myself included."

The series heads back to Verizon Center for Game 6 on Friday. If the Wizards can force Game 7, it'll be Monday here. The Wizards would have to win at a venue where they've been unsuccessful since 2014 to advance to the conference finals.

"They beat our ass," Morris said. "We just beat their ass two times in a row. It comes with the game."

[RELATED: Celtics fans chant Oubre's name during Game 5]

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Wizards vs. Hornets: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

Wizards vs. Hornets: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

After a trying three-game stretch against three of the best teams in the NBA, the Wizards' schedule lightens up a bit as they travel to play the Hornets.

Here's everything you need to know if you plan on watching the game. 


What: Washington Wizards vs. Charlotte Hornets, Game 23

Where: Spectrum Center, Charlotte, North Carolina

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Wizards vs. Hornets will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards vs. Hornets on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM


6:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)

6:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE)

7:00 PM: Wizards vs. Rockets (LIVE)

9:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live (LIVE)

10:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live (LIVE)

10:30 PM: Wizards Talk (LIVE)


Wizards: John Wall (OUT, Left Achilles rehab), C.J. Miles (OUT, left wrist), Jordan McRae (OUT, finger), Isaiah Thomas (OUT, calf)

Rockets: PJ Washington (Day-to-day, ankle), Marvin Williams (OUT, knee)


Davis Bertans, F, Wizards (14.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.6 apg): Bertans has gone from respected sharpshooter to possibly one of the very best the game has to offer. 

Terry Rozier, G, Hornets (17.5 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.2 apg): Rozier is starting to come into his own as a lead guard. It'll be interesting to see how he does against this Wizards defense. 

Miles Bridges, SF, Hornets (12.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.8 apg): Bridges was a menace against the Wizards last time out. The key to victory for Washington will be limited this talented wing. 


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Scott Brooks practices tough love in benching, calling out Moe Wagner

Scott Brooks practices tough love in benching, calling out Moe Wagner

WASHINGTON -- Wizards head coach Scott Brooks has shown some different traits this season, now that his primary goal is player development. He has been much more willing to both bench players within games and then afterward offer harsh assessments as to why.

Second-year big man Moe Wagner got that treatment on Sunday night in the Wizards' 135-119 loss to the L.A. Clippers. After starting the game and playing 14 minutes in the first half, he played three minutes in the second half.

And during his postgame press conference, Brooks didn't mince his words when offering an explanation.

"His head wasn't in the game," Brooks said. "When you're a young player, you've gotta lock in. You have to do what we need to be done. We talked about it. We talked about it at halftime and he didn't want to do it."

Brooks has employed a similar strategy with other young players. Both Troy Brown Jr. and Rui Hachimura have been benched and then criticized publicly, albeit to different degrees.

In the past, Brooks has stopped short of publicly calling out players, particularly veterans and stars. But clearly he sees this as a tactic that can help light a fire under young players who have not yet established themselves in the NBA.

Wagner, for one, didn't take issue with Brooks' assessment.

"He's not wrong," Wagner told NBC Sports Washington. "I didn't have the energy I usually have... I think that's the biggest thing when you're young, the consistent effort and the consistency of doing your job. It's easy to do it every other night, but you have to do it every night."

Wagner's numbers weren't awful on Sunday. He had seven points and six rebounds and was 2-for-2 from three. 

But he had some head-scratching moments on defense and seemed to flop looking for fouls at times when he may have been more impactful playing within the team's defensive system.

"[I need to] do the easy things right. Just do your simple job. Don't overdo it. Don't do crazy stuff out there," Wagner said.

Wagner, 22, is playing heavy rotation minutes for the first time. Last year with the Lakers, he only appeared in 43 games and averaged 10.4 minutes per night. He is learning on the fly how to find consistency at the NBA level.

The good news for Wagner is that Brooks doesn't have much of a choice whether to play him. With Thomas Bryant out for at least a few weeks due to injury, he is the best center on the roster. 

But Brooks dropped a line that should serve as a warning to Wagner, that nothing is guaranteed, even in the situation the Wizards are currently in.

"I don't believe in doghouses, I believe in a fair house. If he doesn't do what we need, we move on to the next guy," Brooks said. 

"Everybody deserves that opportunity that works hard every day in practice. Next man up. Hopefully he will come back and be locked in against the Hornets. And he will."