Quick Links

Morning tip: Wizards give Beal last shot, but result the same

Morning tip: Wizards give Beal last shot, but result the same

For a team that is just 27 games into their regular season schedule, the 2016-17 Washington Wizards sure seem to get a lot of chances at last-second buzzer beaters. Markieff Morris had an opportunity to be the hero in Orlando. Otto Porter and John Wall have both had their shots. And on Monday night in Indiana, the man many have clamored for all year to take the final shot actually got one at long last.

Just like the others, that one rimmed out, too. This time it was Bradley Beal who had the open look, yet once again the Wizards saw the same result. It was another heart-stopping finish, one that brought Marcin Gortat to the floor in disbelief.

Yes, it was another missed opportunity, another play that will stick in the memory of the player who came up short in the final moment. But, just like most of the other last-second shots before, Beal got an uncontested look. The play drawn up by head coach Scott Brooks worked to perfection and the Wizards had their chance, it just didn't go in.

"I felt like it was good," Beal said. "It was kind of tough with the angle and it being 0.9 seconds, but I’ll take the blame for it. It was definitely a shot I can make. Just move on."

"We’ll take that shot any day of the week," Brooks said. "We did a great job of executing, setting screens and coming off hard. It was a good look. There was 0.9 seconds, so the shot had to get up in a hurry. He had plenty of time to catch and gather. It was a good look. Marcin set a great screen. Unfortunately, it didn’t go our way."

The time left on the clock certainly produced a challenge, but the same was the case for a play just seconds earlier. On that one, Beal knocked it down right before the shot clock ran out and with just 15.7 seconds left in the game. That tied the game at 105-105, though initially it appeared to be a go-ahead shot before a referee review determined his foot was on the three-point line.

Afterwards, Beal - who finished with 22 points on 7-of-19 shooting - still wondered if it should have counted for three.

"It was a three to me, but the refs thought otherwise just like they did for a lot of other calls throughout the game. It is what it is," he said.

"I think he was on the line by half an inch," Brooks added.

The 15.7 seconds remaining were more than enough for Thaddeus Young to sink a running floater on the other end to put the Pacers up 107-105. That snapped a Wizards' three-game winning streak and kept them outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. A win would have put them in the playoff mix for the first time this season. Though it's still early, that would have been a nice short-term goal for a team that is still recovering from a disappointing 2-8 start.

The Wizards are now 12-15 on the season. They are 10-6 at home with five straight wins at the Verizon Center. On the road, it's been a much different story where they are just 2-9, the second-worst record in the East. 

Like Monday night, they just haven't been able to consistently close the deal.

"We’re so close in these road games. We’re going to have a breakthrough," Brooks said.


Quick Links

Austin Rivers believes he can help the Wizards on defense as much as anything

Austin Rivers believes he can help the Wizards on defense as much as anything

When asked at his introductory press conference for how he will fit on the Wizards' roster from a basketball perspective, guard Austin Rivers didn't first cite his three-point shooting, his ability to affect games scoring off the bench or his speed to run the floor with John Wall and Bradley Beal. The first thing he point to was his defense.

That may have surprised some people out there as Rivers has long been known for his scoring ability and not so much his skills on the other end. It's not that he can't play defense, it's just that most of the highlights he's produced over the years have been due to his high-flying finishes at the rim and wicked pull-up jumper from three-point range.

Defense, though, is something Rivers takes pride in and he hopes to continue developing as a defender in Washington.

"With how much Brad and John have to do every night, for them to not have to always guard the best guard on the other team, that's something I can come in here and do. Try to bring that competitive spirit and be one of the defenders on the team," Rivers said.

Rivers' defensive ability has produced some controversy among Wizards fans and media members on social media. Some insist he does not bring value on that end of the floor, while some numbers suggest he does have some defensive potential.

Last season, Rivers averaged a career-high 1.2 steals per game. He was tied for fifth on the Clippers in defensive win shares.

However, his 113 defensive rating was his worst since 2013-14. It was an outlier on the Clippers and not in the good way. He also ranked nowhere near the top of the league in deflections or contested three-point shots, two hustle stats that guys like Wall and Beal fair well in.

Rivers points to two attributes that he believes make him a strong perimeter defender. One is his versatility and the other you could call scrappiness.

"On defense [the Wizards] can switch one through three or one through four. I think that gives us a lot of dangerous options," he said.

As for his scrappiness, Rivers says it comes from the early days of his career.

"I had to figure out ways to be effective without [a jumpshot] and that's how I became a defender. I guess everything happens for a reason, right? I'm happy I did have those early career struggles because it made me find a side of me that I didn't do [early on]. Because I promise you I didn't play any defense at Duke," he said.

The last line drew laughter from those gathered at his introductory press conference. Rivers insists that he now takes that end of the floor very seriously. The Wizards certainly hope he can back up his words.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Quick Links

John Wall offers thoughts on Wizards' biggest offseason additions including Dwight Howard

USA Today Sports Images

John Wall offers thoughts on Wizards' biggest offseason additions including Dwight Howard

At his final media availability of the 2017-18 season, John Wall highlighted specific types of players he wanted to see added to the Wizards roster this summer. Most notably, he pointed to an athletic big and bench scoring.

The Wizards ended up adding those things and more.

They signed Dwight Howard and Jeff Green to free agent deals, traded for Austin Rivers and drafted Troy Brown, Jr. in the first round. Howard is the athletic big and Rivers is the bench scorer Wall coveted.

Whether coincidental or not, Wall got his wish. And he's excited for the possibilities now that the Wizards appear to have shored up some weaknesses.

In his recent interview with Chris Miller on our Wizards Tipoff podcast, Wall offered thoughts on each key addition.

On Howard: "Even though he's older, he's still an athletic big and still has respect in this league. I mean, averaging [16.6 ppg and 12.5 rpg], he's a guy who can score in the low-post and block shots, a guy that gets a lot of rebounds and a guy that can catch lobs and do things that when teams switch against us or we're attacking the paint, if they help for a second then we're throwing lobs. Now, do you get more layups? Probably. Or, you get more wide open threes because guys are going to have to crack down on him. If you don't crack down on him, that's an automatic layup or a lob. I think that benefits us a lot. It's going to help. If you look at [Clint] Capela, DeAndre [Jordan] and those types of guys that are athletic, JaVale [McGee]. Even JaVale at times, being athletic and just getting to the paint. Guys are stepping up and you're throwing lobs to those guys. We have a person that can do that."

On Rivers: "I think it's going to be fun and interesting. Austin is someone who I've always watched since high school. He's a competitive guy. He definitely can score the ball. High volume shooter, once he gets it going, he's going. I think it just gives us that guy that we've never really had off the bench, that can create for himself and can create for his teammates at the two-guard position."

On Green: "Just being able to switch one through four, a guy that can post up if you put smaller guys on him. He can guard every position. He's athletic and can run the floor with us in transition. He does the little things that a lot of people don't notice."

On Brown: "He's very poised for his age. He doesn't try to force anything. The only thing I would tell him is just be more aggressive... and make mistakes. Try to make mistakes and improve your game to get better. It's going to be hard to find minutes and at practice at times with [Kelly Oubre, Jr.] and Otto [Porter, Jr.] and those guys being there."

Listen to Wall's full 1-on-1 interview on the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!