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Morning tip: Paul Pierce anticipates fiery Game 6 performance


Morning tip: Paul Pierce anticipates fiery Game 6 performance

Two of the Atlanta Hawks' three wins in this series easily could've have gone the Wizards' way, and that belief will fuel them Friday when the teams meet for Game 6 at Verizon Center.

"It's a tough one to swallow, especially we had a nine-point lead with five minutes to go," said Paul Pierce. "We got to do a better job at closing out the game, running our offense. Too many turnovers in the fourth. Be able to execute a lot better. It comes down to one rebound, but it shouldn't have come down to that.

"The sting of this game is going to motivate us for Game 6. Guys will be really fired up knowing we let one get away. So we're going to go back home with aspirations of wining and making another trip to Atlanta."

Pierce is referencing the 82-81 loss at the buzzer in Game 5 when Al Horford grabbed an offensive rebound over Nene for a putback and victory to give Atlanta a 3-2 lead.

"I got to get in there, get my hands dirty, go in for the rebound, it's on all on us," Pierce said. "It's not on one player you can point a finger at. Once the shot goes up with the game on the line we all got to gang rebound. Lesson learned."

The Wizards almost lost a 21-point lead in Game 3, which they pulled out 103-101. It's a trend all season, such as when the Wizards lost a 25-point lead and had it cut to three vs. the Portland Trail Blazers. The season is littered with such examples. How about the 35-point lead vs. the Miami Heat, minus Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Luol Deng, that was dwindled to one?

They still won both of those games, as uncomfortable as it might've been, but the pace comes out of the offense. They Wizards walk the ball up every possession, the opposing defenses play more desperate and the result is they end up taking forced shots to avoid the 24-second violation. That puts the other team in transition because of long rebounds or simply negates possessions for the Wizards because of turnovers.

"That's the point where we're supposed to turn up the heat, push the (lead) to 12, 13, 14 points and close the game a lot better," Pierce said. "Gotta to a better job of making the extra pass, moving the ball. That's basically it."

MORE WIZARDS: Review of Game 5 officiating not kind to Wizards

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Wizards releasing Chasson Randle opens roster spot, possibilities

Wizards releasing Chasson Randle opens roster spot, possibilities

The Washington Wizards released guard Chasson Randle Monday, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Washington.

Head coach Scott Brooks briefly addressed the move ahead of Monday’s game against the Orlando Magic.

“He’s a terrific young man, a very good player,” Brooks said of Randle. “Just gives us more flexibility. Who knows what we might do with it. He’s definitely an NBA player.”

The additional space – the Wizards had one vacant roster slot even with Randle – brings up the question of which NBA player might join the roster next. For now, don’t expect a blockbuster move.

Randle, who Washington signed to the active roster on Oct. 30, likely clears waivers, and then would rejoin the Capital City Go-Go, Brooks said. It’s been a back-and-forth scenario for Randle between the Wizards and their G-League squad this season. The 6-foot-2 guard was on the Go-Go roster when Washington’s season tipped off, and assigned to the G-League squad at the time of Monday’s release. Randle scored 37 points in the Go-Go’s inaugural game. He did not enter a game for Washington.

The Wizards were forced to add a player by Oct. 30, a date that marked two weeks from the time the Washington traded Jodie Meeks to Milwaukee. League rules require a minimum of 14 players on the roster.

That two week timeline applies to the current scenario. For now, the Wizards save a bit on the luxury tax payment by waiving Randle, who was signed to a $1.24 million non-guaranteed contract. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, adding Randle cost the Wizards $14,955.5 per day. Washington saved approximately $8 million by dealing Meeks.

As Brooks acknowledged, the open spots create greater flexibility.  In wake of the Timberwolves trading disgruntled All-Star Jimmy Butler to the 76ers, multiple reports at least tangentially mentioned the Wizards’ as part of the mix.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Washington balked at including Bradley Beal. SI.com’s Chris Mannix reported teams are keeping tabs on the 3-9 Wizards in case role players like Jeff Green, Markieff Morris or Kelly Oubre Jr. become available should the slow start continue.

Randle’s release limits Washington’s backcourt depth, but the top four options are healthy entering its five-game home-stand. In theory two-way contract player Jordan McRae could be recalled from Capital City, but the wing guard is dealing with a groin injury, according to a source. McRae should be available later in the week.


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3 things to watch for Wizards vs. Magic, as Wizards return home

3 things to watch for Wizards vs. Magic, as Wizards return home

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Dwight Howard and the Washington Wizards take on Mo Bamba, Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic and the Orlando Magic. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

Here are three things to watch...

Back home

After playing eight of their last 10 games on the road, the Wizards finally return to D.C. for an extended homestand. They will play their next five games at Capital One Arena and the first three are against teams with losing records.

So far this season, the Wizards are just 1-3 at home. But in 2017-18 they went 23-18 at home and the year before they went 30-11. This next stretch is an opportunity for them to right the ship.

Quick rematch

The Wizards saw the Magic just two games ago, on Friday, in Orlando. The Magic went up 25 points, yet the Wizards stormed back to cut the lead to one before collapsing late. Seven different Magic players reached double figures, including Mo Bamba, Jerian Grant and Terrence Ross off the bench.

The Wizards have to do a better job rebounding against Orlando and they need to lock down the three-point line. The Magic shot 41.9 percent (13-for-31) from long range. The Wizards also had 18 turnovers, which led to 29 points for Orlando.

Magic are playing well

The win against the Wizards wasn't an outlier for the Magic, who are off to a surprising 6-7 start, a record that currently places them ninth in the East. They have won four of their last five and includes a victory in San Antonio against the Spurs.

Defense remains the Magic's overall strength. They can't score. But they are hitting more threes this season. They rank 16th in the NBA in threes per game (10.6) and are top-10 in attempts.