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Takeaways from Wizards' comeback to beat Kings in overtime

Takeaways from Wizards' comeback to beat Kings in overtime

The defensive issues persist for the Wizards, who allowed another sub.-500 opponent to shoot the lights out. But they won for the third time in as many road games Friday, coming back from a 15-point deficit to force overtime and win 130-122.

It was the Wizards' first win at the Sacramento Kings since 2009.

John Wall (25 points, 12 assists) sparked a 17-4 run to tie the score at 105 when he fed Bradley Beal (38 points, 10 rebounds) for a three-pointer. It was Wall’s 43rd double-double and Beal's first. Otto Porter (19 points, six rebounds), Bojan Bogdanovic (17 points), Jason Smith (nine points, six rebounds) and Ian Mahinmi (nine points, seven rebounds and two blocks) contributed heavily in the comeback.

Buddy Hield (18 points) got the Kings out to a blazing start by scoring 15 in the first quarter but didn’t score in the second half.

After the Wizards had trimmed the deficit to five, the Kings ended the third quarter with a 13-4 run to go up 97-82. But they shot 9-for-26 the rest of the way in coming apart at the seams for the second game in a row.

They blew a 28-point lead in their previous game vs. the San Antonio Spurs and lost by double digits.  This one was tied at 110 in the last two minutes.

The Kings (25-40) had six players in double figures, led by Willie Cauley-Stein (20 points, 13 rebounds), Arron Afflalo (18 points), Hield and Darren Collison (14 points, 10 assists).

--Smith, who didn’t play in Denver, got the call behind Markieff Morris (10 points). He made all four of his shots, including a three-pointer and two mid-range jumpers to get the deficit to single digits early in the fourth. Smith and Mahinmi finished the game for coach Scott Brooks, who went away from the ineffective combo of Morris and Marcin Gortat (two points). Morris did return to replace Smith late but played just 26 minutes. Gortat played 22. 

--The Kings only had two turnovers in the first half. The ball pressure wasn’t there, the switching was sloppy yet again and the dribble penetration allowed caused havoc. The Kings made 8 of 12 threes in the first half alone, 66.7 percent, which were mostly a product of the ball getting too deep, the defense sucking in and the kickouts. The tone changed when Hield, who isn't good off the dribble, was closed out effectively by Beal and Porter who suffocated him. On a crucial possession late in the overtime, Porter blocked Hield at the rim.

--Wall picked up his 12th technical foul of the season (cost, $4,000) for arguing with game officials over a no-call. He stepped out of bounds on a drive but was upset that Collison wasn’t called for a hand check that prevented him from turning the corner. Wall will get a warning letter from the NBA as he approaches 16 which leads to an automatic one-game suspension.

--Bogdanovic missed his first free throw after knocking down 35 in row. He went 3-for-4 from the stripe. He shot 0-for-5 from three-point range, which is where he is normally lights-out. 

--Anthony Tolliver (10 points) had eight consecutive points late in the third when the Wizards made a run. He dropped a three-pointer over Smith’s contest, had a dunk when Porter ran him off the arc but no one rotated to stop his dunk at the rim and had another three. That kept the score at 87-78. The Wizards couldn’t exploit him as a defensive liability in the post vs. Morris or Smith in the first three quarters but they figured it out late.

-- The Wizards were in the penalty with 9:01 left in the game after Smith fouled Ben McLemore (11 points) to stop him at the rim. The Kings, however, only had two and were able to play more aggressively but couldn't stop anyone. Beal scored 16 points in the fourth. He combined with Wall for eight in the extra session. The Wizards had 68 points in the paint and 25 in transition. Only having 11 turnovers also allowed them the needed possessions to come back. 

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Jeff Green lifts Wizards as fellow Hoya Otto Porter watches late again

Jeff Green lifts Wizards as fellow Hoya Otto Porter watches late again

The Wizards’ 117-109 win over the Orlando Magic Monday night was the tale of two Hoyas.

Washington brought Jeff Green back home this summer to help anchor the second unit with his defensive versatility and scoring spurts. Both aspects were on display in the fourth quarter, as the Wizards finally broke free from the Magic.

Another former Georgetown star, Otto Porter, was nowhere to be found in the fourth. Zero minutes for a third consecutive game for the Wizards’ highest-paid player, thus adding another layer of weird to his season.

The why is a topic. For a team that registered its first winning streak of the season after a 2-9 start, all that matters is finding success. That was the postgame message from Scott Brooks.

There’s no detective work required as to why Green turned into a late-game staple.

After his 19-point outing in Saturday’s win at Miami, the streaky scorer had 10 of his 18 in the final period against Orlando with four 3-pointers. Defensively the 6-foot-9 forward offers Brooks an option the roster lacked last season: a versatile player capable of guarding on the perimeter and, as was the case against Orlando center Nik Vucevic, inside against bigger players.

“We need his all-around play,” Brooks said. “He can guard just about everybody on the floor. … I thought [Jeff] did a pretty good job on the big fellow.”

Green and Markieff Morris handled the interior spots the entire fourth quarter. When the forwards can match up with opposing four’s and five’s on defense, it typically means their scoring presence opens the court for penetrating guards John Wall and Bradley Beal on the other end.

Green sinking bombs throughout the game helped as well. He finished four of five from deep with two coming in the fourth. The career 33 percent 3-point shooter is 9 of 13 from beyond the arc overall during the last four games, and 21 of 28 overall.

“He's starting to get a little bit of rhythm from the three-point line, and we need that from him,” Brooks said.

Maybe Green isn’t the ideal athletic-4 Wall called for in recent years, but the on-court connection between the power forward and point guard is evident. During the decisive 14-4 run, the two hooked up for an alley-oop lob that's turned into a go-to play for Washington.

With shooters surrounding the duo, Wall dribbles toward the left elbow, taking all eyes with him. Green immediately turns down an open lane and rolls to the rim before rising high to meet the toss.

“We have shooters, we have guys that have to [be] respected,” Green said of the play. “It keeps [defenders] at bay, and with John’s speed, to get downhill at the rim, you have to help (on him).”

Wall passed on offering any keys to the play’s success (“We just tweaked a little bit of the play. I can’t tell you about, but it’s kind of working for us.”), but he praised Green’s performance with ease.

“That’s what we got Jeff for,” Wall said.

The Wizards matched that massive four-year, $106.5 million restricted offer sheet Porter signed with Brooklyn in 2017 for all kinds of reasons. Among them, he’s an instinct-rich player who makes winning plays and ranks among the most accurate 3-point shooters in the league. Those traits haven’t kept Porter on the court late in games recently in part because they haven’t shown in full-throated ways.

The term “benching” is harsh, though the situation is odd. Morris sat out the final periods at Orlando and Miami. Dwight Howard didn’t enter the fourth Monday despite finishing with 17 points and eight rebounds. Only Porter’s sit streak reached three games.

The small forward played a strong defensive game in Saturday’s win at Miami, but Brooks rode with a group that gained momentum as Washington surged past the Heat.

Porter is 9 of 16 on 3-pointers over the last four games. That’s only one aspect of the game. Brooks is looking for more. Porter took only one shot attempt in the first half Monday, lacked vigor defensively, and scored six points in 21 minutes. Kelly Oubre Jr., Porter's primary backup, played the entire fourth quarter instead despite finishing 0 for 5 from the floor.

"I mean, it's trying to find a blend of guys that are going to compete and going to play hard,” Brooks said of his lineup choices.

Asked specifically about Porter, Brooks said, “It’s just the way it is. Some games Otto is not going to have good games. Tonight isn’t one of them. He’ll bounce back. The guy is a winner. He knows how to play.”

Green and Porter honed their games at Georgetown under coach John Thompson III and turned into top-5 NBA Draft selections. The program is mostly closed off to the outside world, but a strong bond between the players exists regardless of when they played. The two forwards never joined forces until this season. Green knows Porter, enough to tell whether a helpful chat is required. This isn’t one of those times. 

“Otto is a pro, man,” Green told NBC Sports Washington. “I don’t have to say anything to Otto. He’s a team-first guy. He’s a guy who’s going to make sure whenever his name is called he’s going to be ready. He’s not worried about if he’s playing. I’m sure he’d like to be playing. He’s doing whatever it takes it to make sure the team is in a place to win.”

So is Scott Brooks. For now, that includes one former Georgetown star in the fourth quarter. It’s just not the obvious one.


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5 must-see moments from Wizards' 117-109 win over Magic, including Bradley Beal's big dunk

5 must-see moments from Wizards' 117-109 win over Magic, including Bradley Beal's big dunk

The Washington Wizards topped the Orlando Magic 117-109 on Monday night. Here are five plays or moments worth revisiting...

1. Like most games the Wizards have played this season, on Monday they started out scorching on offense while defense appeared optional. 

This play was an exception. Bradley Beal, whom you will see plenty more from in this post, got a steal that led to a three for Otto Porter Jr. on the other end:

Though the Wizards won, Porter was held to just six points in 22 minutes of action.

2. Back to Beal. Though that first-half play was nice, he was quiet for much of this game. It wasn't until less than five minutes were remaining in the third quarter that he flipped a switch.

But when he did, there was nothing the Magic could do to stop him. This was one of the plays he made during his third quarter takeover. He used a nifty behind-the-back crossover to set up Dwight Howard for an and-1 bucket:

3. Beal accounted for 10 points in a three-minute stretch, capped off with this steal and dunk:

Beal started the game 3-for-13 from the field, but ended it with 21 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block.

4. John Wall (25 points, 10 assists) and Jeff Green (18 points, six rebounds) also had big nights. They connected on this alley-oop in the fourth quarter:

Green had 10 points in the fourth quarter and Wall had nine.

5. Wall kept it going late with this fadeaway jumper to force a Magic timeout. The way he toyed with the defense off the dribble was quite impressive:

Speaking of Wall, if you ask Beal, it was the media (and more specifically ESPN's Stephen A. Smith) that set the five-time All-Star off. Wall, Beal says, was playing with some extra motivation with Smith sitting courtside:

Don't question him. Just go with it.

The Wizards have now won two straight games. In a sign that it's still super early and probably not time to freak out about the big picture, the Wizards are now just 1 1/2 games out of the eighth seed in the East.