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Morning tip: Wizards' 2nd unit remains step behind starters

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Morning tip: Wizards' 2nd unit remains step behind starters

The objective in the preseason isn't to win. It's for a team to get better and peak the the right time heading into the regular-season opener. Despite losing to the Miami Heat on Wednesday night, the Wizards have reason to feel good about where they stand with the starting five. 

Their starters outclassed Miami's despite a 110-105 loss. But the second unit, which didn't have Nene, DeJuan Blair, Alan Anderson or even a fully fit Jared Dudley who was playing for the first time since back surgery in July, wasn't quite as sharp at either end of the floor.

If coach Randy Wittman was critical about how they tend to overdribble and not pass the ball quickly enough at times, he had to like what he saw from the first unit with one game left in the preseason Friday vs. the Toronto Raptors.

"I thought our first unit was really efficient," Wittman said. "I think we had nine first-quarter assists and then when we gave up the lead going into the half then I thought they came out in the third quarter and established (another lead)."

The starters, which didn't include Bradley Beal who rested and was replaced by Gary Neal instead, shot 25-for-54 for 46.2% accuracy. All five of them scored in double figures. On defense, they were sharp in rotations and help, particularly Marcin Gortat. 

They were able to build a 20-8 lead when John Wall exited for Ramon Sessions, and the backup helped pushed the advantage to 27-11. Then when Drew Gooden took over for Gortat, Garrett Temple for Neal, Kelly Oubre for Otto Porter and Dudley for Kris Humphries, they lost that momentum as the Heat recovered to lead 53-52 by halftime.

"In the second quarter we lost our pace, allowed them to get into a little bit of a rhythm. As I try to tell our guys you want this pace thing to be a thing for 48 minutes that eventually you’re going to hopefully wear the other team down," Wittman said. "We walked it up a couple times down on misses. For the most part I’m pretty satisfied, especially our first group tonight was real solid.”

A stepback jumper by Wall, over the 6-10 Chris Anderson, put the Wizards back on top 81-68 as the third quarter was winding down. Wall, Porter and Gortat didn't play at all in the fourth while free agents Josh Harrellson and Jaron Johnson eventually made their way onto the court.

Sessions and Neal combined to score 11 points in the fourth quarter but the offense looked disjointed not having that low-post presence to play off with Nene, who hasn't played since Oct. 11 because of a sore right calf. 

Defensively, unless Temple was on the floor, they couldn't stop anyone. They allowed Miami to shoot 57.1% in the fourth, with nine of its 38 points in that 12-minute span coming in transition.

What's clear is that half of the battle has been achieved after six preseason games. But the second part of the plan, the second unit, has to work out its kinks before Oct. 28 when the regular season opens at the Orlando Magic.

In Friday's finale vs. the Toronto Raptors, it could be safe to assume that Wittman will give them a lot of work and cut back on starters' minutes.

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Early favorites for Wizards' 1st round pick; Mark Turgeon joins the show

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Early favorites for Wizards' 1st round pick; Mark Turgeon joins the show

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chris Miller caught up with Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon at the NBA Combine.

Turgeon talked about his three draft-eligible players and what this time is like advising them. Chris and Chase Hughes also gave their early favorites for the Wizards' first round pick and their biggest takeaways from the NBA Combine measurements.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Kentucky's Diallo, UMBC's upset hero

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Kentucky's Diallo, UMBC's upset hero

The Washington Wizards will hold their first pre-draft workout on Tuesday at Capital One Arena and the group of six players features some familiar names. 

Included in the mix is guard Jairus Lyles, who starred for the Unversity of Maryland-Baltimore County and helped lead them as a 16-seed over top-ranked Virginia in the NCAA Tournament. It was the first 16-over-a-1 upset in the tournament's history.

Here are the six players with some notes on each one...

Chris Chiozza, guard, Florida (6-0, 175)

Chiozza played four years at Florida and finished as the school's all-time assists leader. He averaged 11.1 points, 6.1 assists and 1.9 steals per game as a senior.

Potential fit with Wizards: undrafted free agent, G-League prospect

Hamidou Diallo, guard, Kentucky (6-5, 198)

Diallo redshirted in 2016-17 and played one season for the Wildcats. He averaged 10.0 points and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 45.8 percent from the field. Diallo measured 6-foot-6 with shoes at the combine and boasts a 7-foot wingspan.

Potential fit with Wizards: second round pick, backup shooting guard

Tiwian Kendley, guard, Morgan State (6-5, 190)

Kendly was a big-time scorer at Morgan St., averaging 21.0 points as a redshirt junior and 26.1 points as a senior. He took a lot of shots, however, averaging 18.2 field goal attempts on 45.3 percent from the field this past season. Kendley starred at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Maryland before joining the college ranks, first at Lamar Community College.

Potential fit with Wizards: undrafted free agent, G-League prospect

Jairus Lyles, guard, UMBC (6-2, 175)

Lyles was the leading scorer for the Retrievers this past season as they became the biggest underdog Cinderella in NCAA history, defeating the No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. He averaged 20.2 points and shot 39.0 percent from three on 6.1 attempts. Lyles began his college career at VCU and played high school ball at nearby DeMatha.

Potential fit with Wizards: undrafted free agent, G-League prospect

Doral Moore, center, Wake Forest (7-1, 280)

A three-year player at Wake Forest, Moore had a breakout season as a junior with averages of 11.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. Moore played with Sixers star Ben Simmons in high school.

Potential fit with Wizards: undrafted free agent, G-League prospect

Ray Spalding, forward, Louisville (6-10, 215)

Spalding played three years at Louisville and averaged 12.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.5 steals per game as a junior. He posted a 7-5 wingspan at the NBA Combine. Spalding played with Jazz star Donovan Mitchell in college. 

Potential fit with Wizards: undrafted free agent, G-League prospect

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