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Morning tip: Maybe Wizards just don't have 'it'

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Morning tip: Maybe Wizards just don't have 'it'

Tired of being on the receiving end while they get pummeled on the boards and the hustle plays, Garrett Temple is pretty blunt about the Wizards' overall lack of fight. They just don't have it.

"We never had it this season," Temple said before the team left to play Tuesday's game at the N.Y. Knicks. "We've had it for spurts but we haven't had it for a full 10 games. We had that four-game winning streak. That's why we were able to win games. That's the team that we are. We're physical and it doesn't come from just hitting guys hard or having hard fouls. Physical comes from cracking down, flying around helping your teammate out. We're not physical enough on the defensive end."

In Saturday's 108-104 loss at the Charlotte Hornets, who erased a 19-point deficit to win for the second time in three meetings, the Wizards gave in. The Knicks handed the Wizards (22-27) their first loss of the season by scoring 117 points in Verizon Center. 

"We're not a physical, beat-'em-up team, but you can still be physical. You can be the slightest guy and still be physical," coach Randy Wittman said. "Being physical is first to the ball. In games like in Charlotte, 50-50 balls were definitely in their favor. When you're physical you're more apt to control those type of things. ... We got beat twice without even getting on the floor. They got on the floor and got baskets on both of them. In a two-possession game that's pretty important."

Nene (left calf) hasn't played in the last two games and they usually take a step back in the toughness department without him. But Nene, who is expected to play Tuesday, isn't a full-time player and can't be relied on to bail out the Wizards every time the going gets rough. He will deliver hard fouls and body up his man before he gets to his position on the low block. Nene also will use his powerful frame to keep his man off the boards so his teammates can grab the rebounds instead.

The Wizards, however, are last in the NBA in rebounding at 40 per game. They finished last season ranked eighth because Nene started next to Marcin Gortat. This season, they've gone to a pace-and-space style with Kris Humphries and now Jared Dudley as the starting "stretch" four.

"Teams come out and push us around. First of all we don't rebound the ball well enough. Being physical, you have rebound the ball," Temple said. "Rebounding is all hustle. When you have a team (30)th in rebounding that let's you know you're not a physical team. We give up too many layups. No hard fouls. Until we change that we won't be a physical team."

Wittman sat down with the team in a film session Monday. The inability to be on the same page defensively this deep into a season is troubling for a unit that has its core players from two playoff runs still together. They confused responsibilities during coverages. They don't always recognize their personnel and what they should be giving up vs. taking away from the opponent. 

"We're not going a lot of stuff right. A lot of stuff is going wrong," Temple said. "We might focus on defending the pick-and-roll one day and then the next day focus on rebounding, knowing where our man is, things of that nature. Guys are still focused and understand that we're definitely hearing the message that things need to be changed."

RELATED: Otto Porter will log more time as Wizards' 'stretch' option

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Mike Scott

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Mike Scott

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Mike Scott's season...

Player: Mike Scott

Position: Power forward

Age: 29

2017-18 salary: $1.7 million

2017-18 stats: 76 G, 18.5 mpg, 8.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.1 bpg, 52.7 FG%, 40.5 3P%, 65.8 FT%, 59.0 eFG%, 109 ORtg, 111 DRtg

Best game: 12/9 at Clippers - 22 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 9-for-11 FG, 3-for-4 3PT, 28 minutes

Season review: The 2017-18 Wizards season was full of unpredictability and the most positive surprise had to be the comeback of Mike Scott.

The Wizards signed Scott to a veteran minimum contract last offseason after a workout at Capital One Arena. This came just months after he had felony drug charges dropped in the state of Georgia, he lost 25 pounds and rehabbed a leg injury. That spring he had wondered, and justifiably, if his NBA career was over.

Scott overcame all of those odds to not only return to the NBA, but re-establish himself as a productive player off the bench. No one was more consistent start-to-finish in the Wizards' second unit than Scott was.

Scott earned a significant role in head coach Scott Brooks' rotation out of the preseason and stayed there. He reached double-figures in 31 of his 76 games, second only to Kelly Oubre, Jr. on the Wizards. 

Scott's primary value was on offense. He scored inside and out and got his points with remarkable efficiency. He led the Wizards and was tied for 11th in the NBA in effective field-goal percentage. He was second on Washington in field goal percentage and third in three-point percentage. 

Scott closed the season strong, reaching double-figures in scoring in seven of the last nine regular season games. He carried that over into the playoffs with 46 points through their first three games against the Raptors. 

Now comes the question of how much money Scott earned himself with his comeback year and whether the Wizards can afford keeping him. Since they are in the luxury tax, they will have little money to spend this summer. 

The way to keep Scott would be to use the remainder of their taxpayer mid-level exception, but that figures to be only about $1.9 million, not much more than what Scott made in 2017-18. Given how well he played this season, it would not be surprising if he earns much more than that.

Potential to improve: Free throw shooting, forcing turnovers, ability to guard bigs

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

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Markieff Morris is helping his brother gameplan to defend LeBron James

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USA Today Sports Images

Markieff Morris is helping his brother gameplan to defend LeBron James

Wizards forward Markieff Morris is all-in on his brother Marcus and the Boston Celtics beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. Not only is he showing up to games in his twin brother's jersey, he is helping Marcus break down film on LeBron James.

James was held to just 15 points on 31.3 percent shooting with seven turnovers in Game 1 and Marcus got some credit for stopping him. In the two games since, James went off for 42 and 27 points, each time posting 12 assists to complement. Though Cleveland lost Game 2 as well, they punched back with a 30-point win in Game 3.

The Morrises are combining forces to make sure that doesn't happen again, according to Jay King of The Athletic. They stayed up until 2 a.m. on Sunday morning reviewing plays. 

Game 4 between the Cavs and Celtics is on Monday night. If Boston wins, they will take a 3-1 lead in the series, which will be very difficult for the Cavs to overcome. Yes, they mounted the most famous 3-1 comeback in NBA history, but this isn't the same Cavs team that accomplished the feat in 2016.

There is of course some irony in Markieff helping the Celtics, given he was so integral in the rivalry between the Wizards and Boston. But, as he has shown many times over the years, it's family over everything.

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