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Takeaways from Wizards' 2nd consecutive loss at Mavericks

Takeaways from Wizards' 2nd consecutive loss at Mavericks

The Texas two-step for the Wizards, who were hoping to get over .500 for the first time this season, is complete. After a terrible fourth quarter in which they couldn’t make a shot and the Dallas Mavericks couldn’t miss, they lost 113-105 Tuesday and return to Verizon Center with a two-game losing streak.

The Wizards (16-18) lost to the Houston Rockets on Monday in a game they led by 15 points, 101-91. They regained the lead entering the fourth 88-87 on Dallas but went on a four-minute drought and didn’t recover.

John Wall (27 points, eight assists, four rebounds, three steals) led all scorers and Bradley Beal followed (25 points, six assists), Markieff Morris and Otto Porter (13 points) and Marcin Gortat (12 points, 16 rebounds, four assists).

Dallas (11-24) was led by Harrison Barnes (26 points, seven rebounds, five assists), Deron Williams (21 points), Devin Harris (17 points) and Seth Curry (16 points).

The Wizards fell to 3-12 on the road and will be off Wednesday before playing at home vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.

--Beal’s three cut the deficit to 110-105 with 2:12 left and the Wizards failed to score the rest of the way. Barnes missed a jumper over Wall, Williams missed a three and Beal forced Barnes into an airball. However, Wall missed two threes and Beal missed one. The Wizards were 11-for-30 overall from three, falling into a similar trap that they did vs. Houston when they shot 6-for-26 to play catch up in a game they'd had in hand. It didn’t work.

--The three-point shooting for Dallas was obscene (17-for-32). Curry was 4-for-5, Williams and Harris 4-for-7, and Barnes and Wes Matthews 2-for-4. They allowed Beal plentiful open looks but he shot just 3-for-11. When the Wizards lost to Houston, it was Porter and Morris given nine open looks and missing all of them.

-- Morris wasn’t able to take full advantage of Dallas switching Matthews onto him. Worse, he picked up three fouls  -- two on reach-ins on rebound attempts – in the first half to limit his effectiveness. Matthews (12 points) is an elite defender, but he’s a guard who shouldn’t be comfortable defending the 6-10 Morris anywhere in the post.

--Dirk Nowitzki (11 points) started at center and the Mavericks had difficulty keeping Wall out of the paint because he was too slow on rotations. Even when the defense had time to set, Dallas allowed penetration from Wall just because they were a step slow laterally closing him out and didn’t have a true rim protector. Wall had three-point plays, and-1s, to end the first and second quarters with strong drives that led to layups and contact from the bigs. Jason Smith had Washington’s first field goal of the fourth four minutes in when he ran screen-roll with Beal for a dunk. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle pulled Nowtizki and went with Dwight Powell and Salah Mejri who are more mobile.

--Kelly Oubre (eight points) had his best game since Dec. 16 when he sustained a concussion. He knocked down 2 of 4 threes. Smith (four points, two blocks) remained a spark, too, with his play on both ends. He lasted just eight minutes. Trey Burke and Marcus Thornton, however, were out of sync. They combined to shoot 1-for-6 in 23 total minutes. Dallas had a 43-15 edge in bench scoring. 

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John Wall takes another step in rehab, facing teammates in practice

John Wall takes another step in rehab, facing teammates in practice

WASHINGTON -- The steady progress continues for John Wall in his rehab from a ruptured left Achilles tendon, as the Wizards point guard is now facing teammates in 4-on-4 drills at practice.

Head coach Scott Brooks described the games as "controlled," noting they were not full-speed or with contact and featured a 10-second shot clock. But that remains a notable step in his road back after he had previously been playing mostly against player development coaches.

"He practiced for the whole practice. He looked great," Brooks said. "There is still a ways to go. But his energy, his enthusiasm, his strength [looks good]. His shot looks better."

Wall, 29, hasn't played in a game since Dec. 26 of 2018. He had surgery on his Achilles on Feb. 12, 2019. He is currently over 11 months into what is typically an 11-to-15 month recovery.

Brooks, though, makes a point to couch positive updates about Wall with patience. The team has indicated he may not play at all this season.

"I don't know if he plays this year," Brooks said. "We can be patient and we're going to be patient because we need him to be right for a lot of years. This is his career and we know how serious that injury is. He's taking it serious."

Part of the equation is the financial commitment the Wizards have made in Wall. He is due roughly $131.5 million over the next three seasons. They want to make sure he is good to go not just for this year, but that he can be effective for the remainder of his contract.

According to Brooks, even having Wall back to this level has added some positive energy to the Wizards' organization.

"I know the excitement is around because he's around and he's looking [good]," Brooks said. "When he comes back, he's going to be the John Wall we all love."

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5 observations about the Wizards at the midway point of the 2019-20 season

5 observations about the Wizards at the midway point of the 2019-20 season

The Wizards' 29-point loss to the Raptors on Friday night was the 41st game of the year, meaning Washington's 2019-20 regular season is officially halfway through.

With that in mind, here are five observations from the season so far; some expected and some unexpected...

They are who we thought they were

In some ways, this season has gone exactly how most thought it would. Bradley Beal has been an All-Star level player, but poor defense and an inexperienced roster around him has led to a team headed safely towards the lottery. They are 13-28 after 41 games, meaning they are on pace to win 26 on the season.

That's about what Vegas predicted, as evidenced by over/under win totals that stayed around 28.5. And that's what most reasonable forecasts had them being; a team with intriguing talent that was probably a year away from contending for the playoffs again.

Sheppard has found some guys

The early returns on the Tommy Sheppard era are good and that should be seen as one of the most important positives of this season so far. Just look at the gems he has acquired in a relatively short period of time as general manager. He drafted Rui Hachimura, a plug-and-play guy, with the ninth overall pick. He got Davis Bertans, Moe Wagner and Isaac Bonga in trades basically for nothing. 

He got Garrison Mathews out of nowhere. He signed Ish Smith instead of giving more money to Tomas Satoransky. And even his minor deals with guys like Anzejs Pasecniks and Gary Payton II have impressed to a degree.

It is very early in his tenure, but Sheppard is showing he has the ability to find diamonds in the rough, a skill that is one of the biggest separators between GMs.

It has also become evident on social media that Sheppard is gaining some clout among fans. Given the previous distrust in the front office, that is definitely worth noting.

The injuries have been ridiculous

Though injuries happen to every team and they are ultimately no excuse, the health of the Wizards has undoubtedly been a major part of their season to this point. They have had as many as eight players missing at times due to injury, or in other words more than half of their roster.

That has included two hardship exceptions and the players acquired as a result were even starting at times. Their best players have been hurt, even Beal who had previously played 194 straight games. Lately, they have been getting healthy, but the rash of injuries was enough to leave its mark on their 2019-20 campaign as a whole.

Beal may or may not be sold on the future

Though this season has mostly gone as expected, it has been fair to wonder how Beal has handled it all, given he is far and away their best player. He signed a contract extension to be part of this, but he's used to winning more games and it's only natural for him to be frustrated with how things have gone.

Beal backed up those theories with his comments this week about the team's culture, and the whole situation is going to be worth watching closely moving forward. The Wizards' best player appears to be a bit anxious about the franchise's future. Whether they can match their timeline to contend with his remains to be seen.

The Wall thing is going to get interesting

This was also pretty easy to call going into this season. Now over 11 months into his recovery from a ruptured Achilles, John Wall is making steady progress towards a return and the debates of whether he should come back this season or not are coming into focus. 

The discourse was taken up a notch recently with NBC Sports Washington's report about him playing in three-on-three scrimmages, and then again days after with video of those games. Though he isn't quite ready to come back, he is looking good and there are still three months remaining in the Wizards' season. 

Will he be ready one month from now, or two? Even if he is, will the Wizards bring him back or wait until next season? Those are major questions with no easy answers.

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