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Scott Brooks breaks down Wizards' woes beyond X's and O's

Scott Brooks breaks down Wizards' woes beyond X's and O's

The way the Wizards won against the Sacramento Kings caused enough concern for coach Scott Brooks. The decision made by John Wall to take a fallaway jump shot when he had a favorable one-on-one matchup with DeMarcus Cousins sent that game into overtime. 

Brooks has made a point to sit down with his backcourt players individually to discuss what has gone wrong.

"He's always an option. We wanted to make sure we got a shot," Brooks said of Bradley Beal, who had a team-high 31 points in that game. "John and I watched some film of the last three minutes of regulation and overtime. A lot of opportunities for him to attack. I thought he might've settled for that shot."

Fast forward two days to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday. The botched pick-and-roll between Wall and Markieff Morris led to a difficult pass back that was almost intercepted. The broken play almost worked out but Otto Porter's recovery of the ball and mid-range shot missed. Instead of 6-11, the Wizards would be no worse than 8-9 if they'd closed better in losing this game as well as the second game of the season at the Memphis Grizzlies.

Now the San Antonio Spurs, who handled them last week 112-100 at Verizon Center, are on tap for Friday (CSN, 8 p.m.). Like with Oklahoma City, Wall and Beal have never won a road game in San Antonio. 

"We didn't even talk about the game last night," Beal said after Thursday's practice session before describing what has plagued the Wizards at the end of games when it comes to execution. "We're too comforable, too lackadaisical. I think we got to get back to running our offense. ... I'm sick of hearing we played hard, we played well. We got to win them."

Brooks isn't as concerned about who takes shots when. He wants common-sense plays to be made. Wall is 0-for-16 in his career when taking the shot to win or tie a game with five seconds or less, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Beal is 1-for-4. As a whole, the Wizards are 6-for-47 during Wall's tenure of six-plus seasons. 

Some kind of change is needed to get a better result.

"It's definitley something to consider. It's a work in progress for me," Brooks said. "There's definitely going to be opportunities where Brad gets the last shot. With that type of situation I want guys to make the right play. A lot of criticsm for a lot of players throughout the history of the game, 'He doens't take the last shot.' ... 'He takes the last shot.' It's really making the right play. John has a history of doing that and I'm sure Brad will get those opportunities to make the right play. It's also five guys have to be in the right spots. We have to set good screens and deliver a pass if needed. Last-second shots are always about team. You have to trust the guy making the decision."

[RELATED: Wizards' problems late in games go deep]

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Rui Hachimura's learning curve can be seen on offense late in games

Rui Hachimura's learning curve can be seen on offense late in games

WASHINGTON -- Wizards forward Rui Hachimura has translated so smoothly to the NBA level that it is easy to forget he is still just a rookie with only 31 games under his belt. For a reminder of his inexperience, just look at the fourth quarter.

Hachimura tends to start games hot on the offensive end, like he did on Friday in the Wizards' loss to the Cavaliers when he had eight points by the end of the first quarter. But he scored only nine points after that and went scoreless through seven minutes in the fourth.

That has been a consistent theme for him this season. He averages 4.8 points in the first quarter shooting 48.4 percent from the field, 4.0 points in the second shooting 57 percent and then 4.3 points on 47.9 percent in the third. In the fourth quarter those numbers plummet to 1.9 points on average and 33.3 percent shooting.

Basically, Hachimura often comes out on fire but then slows down considerably once opponents make midgame changes. Against the Cavs, Hachimura said it was because they disrupted passing lanes.

"They are an NBA team. They just adjusted. They didn't want me to catch the ball. They didn't let me just catch the ball. I think that's why," he said.

The Wizards have seen teams switch defensive match-ups midgame to counter Hachimura. Sometimes taking away his midrange jumper will be prioritized. The Cavs seemed to find success playing Hachimura more physically in the second half, bumping him away from his comfort zones.

Over time, Hachimura can improve his ability to sustain scoring throughout games simply by becoming more versatile. The more consistent he becomes at making three-point shots and creating off the dribble, the more difficult it will be for teams to stop him. As long as he keeps improving, he will reach a point where he can stay ahead of the defense with a multitude of counters.

Developing a more reliable outside game and more dribble combinations will take some time. For now, Hachimura believes the key to him keeping up his scoring pace involves working with his teammates, particularly star shooting guard Bradley Beal.

"I just gotta connect more with Brad. Brad is the one everybody is trying to guard. Screens and pick-and-rolls with him, that kind of stuff will help me," Hachimura said.

Hachimura's game against the Cavaliers reflected how the team played overall. After scoring 41 points in the first quarter, they managed only 42 in the second half. They blew a 16-point lead and lost, 113-108.

So, he wasn't alone. And those rooting for Hachimura to round out his game should feel good about his odds. He has a relentless work ethic and is often staying after practice to go over film with player development coach Dave Adkins.

Hachimura is perceptive and driven to improve. In order to take the next step as a scorer, he will have to get better at closing games.

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Tristan Thompson calls Bradley Beal one of the best shooting guards in the league

Tristan Thompson calls Bradley Beal one of the best shooting guards in the league

Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson spoke with reporters after the team's victory over the Wizards Friday night, praising Bradley Beal, who was snubbed from All-Star consideration this season despite averaging nearly 30 points-per-game.

The Cavaliers held the Wizards to just 21 points in the fourth quarter, and Thompson said their main focus was neutralizing Beal.

"The Wizards are really good offensively when they are making their runs," Thompson said postgame. "Bradley Beal is an All-Star in our league. One of the top-three two-guards in our league right now, so we were just trying to make it tough for him."

Beal finished the night with 26 points, but struggled from the floor. Beal shot 9-for-28 from the floor and the Cavaliers' stingy defense was clearly a factor.

Beal and the Wizards will have a chance to get back on track on Sunday night at Capital One Arena when they host the Chicago Bulls for the final time this season.

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