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New look Wizards prepared to face Nets


New look Wizards prepared to face Nets

The Washington Wizards are still road warriors. A six-game road stretch interrupted by two days at home comes to end tonight against the New Jersey Nets. It will be a new beginning for the Wizards with center Nene now a part of the roster and hotel rooming list.

Wizards head coach Randy Wittman did not say if Nene, acquired last week in a trade with Denver, would start in his team debut. Nene just passed his team physical on Sunday and the Wizards only had one formal practice on Tuesday.

You know it is just a matter of him getting a comfort level, said Wittman of Nene. We are going to throw him in. I dont have any problems of thinking he is going to sink. He is going to swim. We cant flood him with a lot all at one time and we have enough bodies to have him in and out and playing different positions.

In addition to integrating Nene, center Brian Cook, via trade with the Los Angeles Clippers, and swingman Edwin Ubiles, on a 10-day contract, just joined the Wizards over the weekend in Memphis. It has Wittman looking to simplify the offense, much like he did when he replaced Flip Saunders, so his new players can just play and not spend time out there thinking what they are supposed to do .

It is a Wizards team that recently, with the exception of the second half last week in Atlanta, has been doing what it is suppose to do on offense led by John Wall. In 11 games since the All-Star break Wall is averaging 20.5 points, 8.8 assists and 4.3 rebounds, while shooting 49 percent from the field.

We are playing a lot better, said Wizards forward Maurice Evans. We are spacing the floor with different combinations. Guys are sharing the ball and we are playing with a different kind of energy right now.

Last week Wittman already adjusted the rotation and started to use Wall and Shelvin at times in the same back court. Going forward Wittman has more options and he will also use Nene and Kevin Seraphin together to strengthen the low post presence. In three starts after JaVale McGee was traded, Serpahin scored 34 points and grabbed 28 rebounds with impressive defensive performances against the Hornets Chris Kaman and the Grizzlies Marc Gasol.

Nene can play both positions, the five and the four. Kevin (Seraphin) has played well of late, said Wittman. You have to continue to build that part of this team of being able to throw the ball inside and play out. Once you can collapse a defense by having somebody in there (low post) that you have to pay particular attention to it helps the perimeter people much more.

The Wizards will not have Andray Blatche. Since he returned from a calf injury nine games ago, Blatche has struggled to regain his form. Because of the nature of his injury Blatche was unable to maintain conditioning. Wittman said it was a mistake to try and play Blatche into shape and will sit him until he is fit.
Like the Wizards, the Nets have lost six of seven games. Also like the Wizards, the Nets were busy at the trade deadline. There was no Dwight Howard deal, but the Nets acquired forward Gerald Wallace from Portland for Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams and a protected first-round draft pick.

Wallace has given the Wizards problems in the past and in his second game with the Nets on Monday against the Cavaliers had 27 points and 12 rebounds. Wall and the Wizards will also have to deal with Nets point guard Deron Williams who is averaging 22.1 points and 8.1 assists per game.

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Wizards finally experience a blowout win for their side

USA Today Sports

Wizards finally experience a blowout win for their side

CAPITAL ONE ARENA -- The Washington Wizards experienced plenty during this largely trying regular season. One aspect missing, being on the all-smiles end of a blowout victory. After Wednesday’s 119-95 rout over the Cleveland Cavaliers, they can now check that box.

“It’s nice to experience that as well,” Tomas Satoransky said.

Washington led from start to finish and by double figures for the final 35 minutes. It set season-highs for points in a quarter (41 in the first), the first half (73) and largest halftime margin (21). The Wizards turned 24 Cavalier turnovers into 29 points. All 13 players scored. 

Quality stretches existed this season, but for minutes, a quarter, maybe a half, but rarely over the full 48. Other than a third-quarter dip when the Cavaliers (2-12) closed within 13 points, the Wizards rolled. The romp meant John Wall only played 21 minutes. None of the starters entered in the fourth quarter. That last part happened in recent games, but this time for positive reasons.

“It was great,” Bradley Beal said of a game “[We were] able to come out and get a lead and be able to sustain it and maintain it throughout the game.”

The Wizards maintained little during the opening 11 games of the regular season other than a downtrodden vibe. Their 5-9 record reflects those struggles. The current three-game winning streak signals growth. The postgame locker room smiles and comments displayed some sense of relief.

“I think we needed that, obviously,” Satoransky said to NBC Sports Washington. The reserve point guard was part of the second quarter surge that saw the Wizards outscore the struggling Cavaliers 20-2 for a 61-34 lead.

“They were on a back-to-back and they haven’t been playing well this year. We felt like with a day off after our last win we could come out aggressively, and just keep it going,” said Satoransky, who had eight points, four assists and three steals in 17 minutes. “Trying to turn the season around.”

The Wizards aren’t naïve enough to think all problems are solved. The three wins came against teams with losing records. Victories over Miami and Orlando included shaky stretches. The big picture hole remains.

“We still have a lot of work to do – we still have to get better,” said Beal, who led Washington with 20 points. “We’re still not content with where we are. We put three [wins] together, but we still have a couple more at home that we have to take care of.”

All of that is true. Numerous gloomy statistics remind the reader of the rough beginnings. Washington entered Wednesday allowing a league-high 118.5 points per game. At least now, the Wizards can contemplate their issues without the weight of the world on their shoulders. For now, the league-wide media will find another target after pillaring the Wizards for weeks. Finally, positive momentum arrived and did so with the Nets, Clippers and Trail Blazers rounding out the homestand.

“I hope we can continue winning,” Satoransky told NBC Sports Washington. “We have three more games at home. I think it’s a good moment for us to turn things around. Brooklyn has been playing well and those two [Western Conference] teams are going to be tough, but I think we’re in a good way now.

“It’s great to experience something like that [blowout]. It helps you mentally. It helped just being able to win three in a row. You can feel it. Whenever you step on the court after that you feel more confident, so that’s good.”


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Ian Mahinmi's first ever 3-pointer a fun, proud moment for Wizards

Ian Mahinmi's first ever 3-pointer a fun, proud moment for Wizards

Ian Mahinmi is in the middle of his 11th NBA season. He has appeared in 623 total games, including the playoffs. Yet, until Wednesday night, he had never made a single three-point shot in an NBA game that counted.

With just over a minute left in the first half of the Wizards' win over the Cavs, Mahinmi stepped back behind the line in the weakside corner. John Wall drove to the elbow to collapse the defense and fired him a pass. Wide open, Mahinmi rose and released like he had done it many times before.

Technically, he had. Mahinmi has been working on his three-point shot persistently. At the end of every Wizards practice, he can be seen going around the horn popping threes.

In practice, Mahinmi makes long range shots consistently. Head coach Scott Brooks has put the number at around 70 out of 100 on his best days. Mahinmi even made a few this preseason, suggesting it might actually happen in a regular season game this year.

Sure enough, it did.

"It's something I work on. I work on threes and especially from the corners. It's good to see one finally go in," Mahinmi said.

Mahinmi had attempted two threes already this season. One clanged off the side off the backboard. The second rolled in and out of the rim.

Mahimni said the second attempt was actually a designed play to get him a three-point look. On this one, Wall called his number again.

Mahinmi said Wall told him to go to the corner. The team was up 20 points and it was late in the first half. 

The stars had aligned. It just seemed like the right time.

"Obviously, I was looking for it," Mahinmi said. "If the ball comes my way, I'm shooting it."

Brooks has expressed confidence in Mahinmi's outside shooting ability for months now. And he reiterated after Wednesday's game that Mahinmi has the green light.

"I want Ian to shoot threes if he's open," Brooks said. "He practices that every day. We see it go in every day. The league is changing. It's not just a small-ball league for the smalls."

That last point was not lost on others around the Wizards locker room. When Mahinmi entered the league in 2007, centers were expected to camp around the rim. He was asked to block shots and play with his back to the basket. 

In the decade-plus since, new species of big men have flowed into the NBA. Many of them hit threes, leap high above the rim and break down defenders off the dribble.

Mahinmi, though fully-developed at 32 years old, isn't letting that stop him. He has added a three-point shot that opponents have to at least know is possible to go in.

"He's adapted to the game and that's not easy at his position because they try to kick fives out of the league," guard Bradley Beal said.

No one expects Mahinmi to all of a sudden become Dirk Nowitzki and hit threes all the time. It was a small moment that probably won't mean much in the big picture.

Still, it was a reason for him and his teammates to celebrate.

"I'm glad to see him do that," center Dwight Howard said. "I'm so happy for him."