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Takeaways from Wizards' comeback from double digits vs. Bucks

Takeaways from Wizards' comeback from double digits vs. Bucks

The Wizards erased a 10-point deficit midway through the final quarter when Bradley Beal heated up and the matchup problem, Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, went invisible thanks to the two-way brilliance of Otto Porter.

Three-pointers from Porter and Beal, followed by a jumper from Markieff Morris, put the Wizards on top with 3:08 left and they held on to win 107-102. They have a 2-1 series lead in a conference that’s muddled in the middle. Head-to-head tiebreakers are crucial when it comes to playoff seeding.

Porter (32 points, 13 rebounds) led Washington (14-16) followed by Beal (22 points), John Wall (18 points, 16 assists) and Morris (18 points). The Wizards avenged Friday's 27-point loss in Milwaukee.

Relative to his career-high 39 points the last time, Antetokounmpo (22 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists) was held in check. Sixteen of his points came in the first half. Tony Snell (20 points) made 6 of 11 three-pointers and had help from Greg Monroe (16 points, five rebounds) off the bench and Jabari Parker (14 points, six rebounds).

The Wizards trailed by double digits for the first time midway through the final quarter, but consecutive threes from Porter and Beal trimmed the deficit to 96-92 and set the stage for a frantic conclusion:

--Wall and Marcin Gortat began the fourth quarter in hopes of getting them off to a strong finish as the Wizards trailed 84-82 but they were disheveled on both ends. They had to call two timeouts by the 7:51 mark and trailed 96-86 as Milwaukee exploited matchups with Michael Beasley and Monroe in the post. 

--Porter and Morris were given free range to roam. Henson helped out on the pick-and-roll and was challenging Beal wherever he went. That left spots open for the supporting cast to get open for high-percentage looks. Porter took 12 shots by halftime and had 18 points and six rebounds. Morris had 14 points on seven shots as he got to the foul line four times. The Wizards gave up Snell who had open threes for 15 points as he made 5 of 6. They still couldn’t limit Antetokounmpo, however, as he had 16 points on nine shots, went to the foul line five times and had seven rebounds to go with four assists.

--With Henson pulling away so often from the rim, Gortat wasn’t able to have much impact. He only had four points and only took five shots. The Wizards should’ve had a significant edge in rebounding and second-chance points with such sacrifices being made by Milwaukee but trailed 26-20 in paint points and 21-19 on the boards.By the end, however, they were even in rebounding (40-40), flipped the fast-break points from 27-8 disadvantage Friday to a modest 13-8 edge and doubled up on made three-pointers (12-6).

--Oubre’s defense was vital if the Wizards had any hope in slowing down Antetokounmpo. Before the game, Scott Brooks said his second-year forward hadn’t played well since sustaining a concussion four games ago in a game vs. the Pistons. Oubre had five points and three assists in 10 minutes played. He had a strip of Snell in the open court that led to his own dunk, but the Bucks still shot 48.8% in the first half. That’s still much better than 66.7% in the first half of Friday’s game, but Porter proved to be the more impactful. Antetokounmpo only attempted one shot during seven minutes of play in the fourth and that was a dunk with 22.8 seconds left. 

--Mirza Teletovic lit up the Wizards in their first meeting earlier this month, a 110-105 loss for Milwaukee. He had 25 points in just 26 minutes off the bench as he made 5 of 6 threes. Teletovic didn’t play in this one because of a concussion. Snell filled that void with the shooting that Malcolm Brogdon (six points) and Michael Beasley (eight points) couldn’t for any prolonged stretch off the bench. Snell was the only player for Milwaukee to make threes. Everyone else was 0-for-10.

--Andrew Nicholson didn’t play after being on the court for eight minutes in the last game. Neither did Sheldon McClellan, who wasn’t good defensively in the last meeting. Daniel Ochefu was expected to play at least a small role given the Bucks’ size and the rookie’s recent time on the floor, but that didn’t come. Jason Smith  played little (six minutes) after he had a terrible time trying to match up previously with Monroe in the low post. 

[RELATED: Giannis' paint persistence a problem for Wizards]

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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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Wizards committed more turnovers against the Raptors than they have in any game in 25 years

Wizards committed more turnovers against the Raptors than they have in any game in 25 years

Whether it's good or bad, nothing the Wizards do is subtle. 

They'll score a million points and give up two million points. They'll beat the Heat, Nuggets and Celtics without Bradley Beal but also blow an 18-point fourth quarter lead to the Bulls. 

The Wizards had some turnover issues Friday night, but again, they're never subtle. 

Washington committed 28 turnovers on the way to a 29-point loss. Following the first seven minutes of play, the Wizards had seven turnovers and seven points. 

The last time the Wizards turned the ball over that much was April 2, 1994, in a 104-96 win over the Bucks. The last time an NBA team turned it over 28 times? The 2010 Suns. 

Nine Wizards players had multiple turnovers, while five players had at least three. 

Following Bradley Beal's comments criticizing the team's culture and need to develop winning habits, the Wizards' response left more than enough to be desired. Credit the Raptors defense utilizing their length and ball pressure to take advantage of when the Wizards were loose with the ball, but it takes more than good defense to turn it over 28 times. 

The bright side is this was an uncharacteristic performance for the Wizards. They currently average the 10th-fewest turnovers per game in the NBA, so there's a good chance they clean things up on Monday against the Pistons. 

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