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


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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What Wizards guard Chris Chiozza learned from playing with James Harden and Chris Paul

What Wizards guard Chris Chiozza learned from playing with James Harden and Chris Paul

WASHINGTON -- Point guard Chris Chiozza is hailed as a success story for the Wizards' G-League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go, which played its first season last year as an expansion franchise. He joined the organization in training camp as an undrafted rookie and by February had played his way into an NBA contract with the Houston Rockets.

Chiozza initially signed a 10-day contract with Houston and ended up sticking around through the playoffs until late July when he was waived. That opened the door for a reunion in Washington where he landed on an Exhibit 10 contract last month.

His time in Houston was brief, but important for a variety of reasons. For one, Chiozza got some official NBA experience for the first time by appearing in seven regular season games. 

Chiozza, 23, is now back with the Wizards with a different perspective.

"It's a much more comfortable feeling now, just having that experience," he told NBC Sports Washington. "I wasn't expecting to be back here. But it's a great opportunity. I get along great with everybody here."

Chiozza is currently gunning for a roster spot with the Wizards out of training camp. With injuries to two of Washington's point guards, John Wall and Isaiah Thomas, Chiozza could earn some playing time early in the season behind projected starter Ish Smith. Chiozza's main competition is undrafted rookie Justin Robinson, who joined the Wizards on a three-year deal this summer. 

Chiozza could have his contract converted into a two-way deal, as they have an open spot there next to Garrison Mathews. That would allow Chiozza to start the season with the NBA team until G-League training camp begins on Oct. 28. Then, a 45-day limit would kick in for how much time he could spend in the NBA. Forty-five days, though, would be plenty for the Wizards to work with, as Thomas is expected to return from his left thumb injury not long after the season begins.

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks believes Chiozza has a real chance to carve out a steady career in the NBA.

"I think he knows that he can play in the league. As a young player, you hope that you can be in the league but you're not quite sure if you can," Brooks said. "But with Chris, I think he knows he can play in it."

Chiozza draws confidence from having a full year of professional basketball under his belt. But he also had a unique experience playing in Houston. He got to square off every day at practice with two guards who will be in the Hall of Fame someday.

Chiozza got to see up close what makes James Harden and Chris Paul great. And he took away from that lessons of how he can elevate his own game as a point guard.

"It was crazy just to see how good of a one-on-one player [Harden] is. When you watch him on TV, you can't really tell how smart of a player he is with the reads he makes. He can read when it's his shot or it's time to kick out to a shooter. Just watching him and CP3 and how they read the defense is pretty interesting," Chiozza said.

"When I was growing up, [Paul] was my favorite point guard. Just being around him and going to his camps and stuff and then being on his team, it was crazy."

Chiozza said practicing with Paul is a different experience than in games where he is more conservative with his ball-handling and passing. In practice, Paul may surprise you by passing the ball through a big man's legs or with dribble combinations he doesn't allows deploy. Chiozza calls them "pick-up moves."

Chiozza saw the finer details of what makes two great guards the players they are. As he aims to find a niche in the NBA, that can only help his cause.


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Nationals to honor WNBA Champion Mystics prior to Tuesday's NLCS Game 4

Nationals to honor WNBA Champion Mystics prior to Tuesday's NLCS Game 4

There may be no victory parade until next spring, but the WNBA Champion Mystics will be honored in front of 40,000-plus people in the nation's capital on Tuesday.

The Mystics' tremendous season will be recognized in front of a likely sold-out crowd at Nationals Park prior to the Nats' NLCS Game 4 against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday, the team announced on Monday.

Additionally, WNBA MVP Elena Della Donne will throw out the game's ceremonial first pitch. Head coach Mike Thibault will be involved in pregame festivities as well.

This comes after the Mystics took home their first-ever WNBA title last Thursday, defeating the Connecticut Sun 89-78 in a decisive Game 5.

Being honored at Nationals Park will be the latest of quite the celebrations from the Mystics. They earned props from President Barack Obama and were featured on Good Morning America Monday morning.

Congratulations to the Mystics, and props to the Nationals for honoring the latest champions from Washington, D.C.