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Morning tip: Wizards finally establish a real home-court advantage

Morning tip: Wizards finally establish a real home-court advantage

There were three key reasons why president Ernie Grunfeld immediately locked in on Scott Brooks as his next coach, giving him a fully guaranteed five-year deal worth $35 million.

One of those reasons were he wanted to establish a team that actually had a home-court advantage, and that played in a way that inspired the fan base to support them in ways they didn't the previous season. 

That was a difficult task. Before the 2016-17 season began, the energy was missing likely because of the disappointment that accompanied whiffing on Kevin Durant in free agency, a 2-8 start and then the highest-priced free-agent acquistion, Ian Mahinmi, being absent for all but one game. The next highest-paid free agent, Andrew Nicholson, has devolved into a spot-minute player who has had his share of DNP-CD (Meaning, he was available but Did Not Play-Coach's Decision).

December, however, represented a major turnaround. Three consecutive quality wins, vs. the Charlotte Hornets, Detroit Pistons and L.A. Clippers, started the momentum. After a 27-point road loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Wizards responded by coming back to beat them 107-102 on Dec. 26 at home.

The atmosphere has livened, and it doesn't take until free sandwich promos until the fourth quarter for the crowd to get hyper. The chants of fans for the visiting team can no longer compete. 

Wall, a three-time All-Star, had his issues defending to start the season but he has gotten better and already has 20 double-doubles. Bradley Beal, who signed a $128 million max contract this summer, is playing like he's worth every penny. Otto Porter and Marcin Gortat are playing their best basketball since coming to D.C. and Kelly Oubre looks like a first-round pick. Even among the other lesser-known names, they're playing with a heart and committment under Brook who never wavered.

"It's tremendous," said Beal after a pracitce following that win over Milwaukee. "It's amazing. Just having that support behind us, we need that energy. We need that sixth man behind us. When we go on the road it's everybody against us. We want that same feeling against these other teams."

Wall, who has led them to a 10-5 month, was one assist short of a triple-double a few days later in a win over the Indiana Pacers. He heard "M-V-P" chants repeatedly. It felt like old times, such as two years ago when his broken left hand/wrist likely kept them out of the conference finals. 

"This is what I've seen in the past, the two years I made it to the playoffs," Wall said of 2013-14 and 2014-15 when the Wizards advanced to the conference semifinals before missing out last season. "Without these guys we don't find a way to get that sense of urgency when we're down or when we're up and teams come back. ... They got to understand we enjoy that. We enjoy coming home. We don't want to feel like it's a road game. We got 41 games on the road."

And the Wizards are just 16-16. By no means have they fully turned the corner but they're progressing and have gotten themselves out of an early-season hole. They have an eight-game home win streak and are 13-6 overall.  

They're just 3-10 on the road and have a two-game trip that starts tonight, at the Houston Rockets and Tuesday at the Dallas Mavericks. Come back 2-0, and Friday's home game vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves likely will be taken to another level. 

MORE WIZARDS: Film study: What has gotten into Burke and Smith?

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Davis Bertans' incredible start to the season, by the numbers

Davis Bertans' incredible start to the season, by the numbers

Davis Bertans was on fire once again on Tuesday night in the Wizards' loss to the Charlotte Hornets, as the Latvian Laser continues his breakout season in Washington hitting threes at a historic rate. Here are some numbers to put what he is doing in perspective...

32

Bertans had 32 points in Tuesday's game, the ninth time he has scored 20 or more already this season. He had scored 20-plus points only three times previously in his career.

6

Bertans has made six or more threes in a game six times already this season, including four times this month. Before he joined the Wizards, he had done it twice as an NBA player.

8

Bertans is one of only seven players in Wizards/Bullets franchise history to make eight threes or more in a game. The others are Gilbert Arenas, Trevor Ariza, Bradley Beal, Bojan Bogdanovic, Rex Chapman and DeShawn Stevenson. Only Beal (nine) and Ariza (10) have made more than eight.

92

Bertans has made 92 threes through 23 games this season. The ony players who have made more through this point in NBA history are James Harden and Stephen Curry. The previous high for a Wizards/Bullets player was 72 (Arenas).

328

The 92 threes in 23 games has Bertans averaging four per game and on pace to make 328 on the season. Only two players have ever made 300-plus threes; Harden and Curry. The record is 402, by Curry in 2015-16.

4

Bertans has made four threes or more in six straight games and five or more in four straight. Both are franchise records. During this six-game stretch, Bertans is 36-for-71 (50.7%) from long range.

9.6

Bertans is making most of his threes on catch-and-shoot plays and leads the league in most related categories. He is tops in the NBA in points off catch-and-shoot plays (9.6/g), field goals made (3.2/g) and three-pointers made (3.1).

70.8

A whopping 70.8 percent of Bertans' shot attempts this season have come from three-point range. The next highest percentage for a Wizards player is 34.6 percent, by Moe Wagner.

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Ish Smith helps mop the court during a timeout

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NBC Sports Washington

Ish Smith helps mop the court during a timeout

As a guard, Ish Smith is asked to do a lot on the court. Pass, shoot, and defend, the Wizards need him to do it all in order to succeed. On Tuesday, however, Smith demonstrated another on-court intangible that isn't always seen from NBA players: cleaning.

During the final moments of what would be a 114-107 loss to the Hornets, the game came to a halt in order to mop up a wet spot on the court. Smith happened to find himself near the large mop under the baseline, grabbed it and began helping out the worker. 

Overall, it's pretty good form here from Smith. He bent his knees, extended his arms and had a solid motion with the mop. Smith finished the night with 13 points and five assists in the boxscore, but this sixth assist was his most innovative.

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