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Takeaways from Wizards' hard-fought win over Hornets

Takeaways from Wizards' hard-fought win over Hornets

What changed for the Wizards after going down by 10 points early in the third quarter and playing short-handed against the best team in the Southeast Division on Wednesday night? Defense.

They turned the tide by being a more physical team, which they were not in a loss to the Miami Heat two nights prior, in a 109-106 win over the Charlotte Hornets in front of 13,447 at Verizon Center.

The Wizards (10-14) had six players in double figures before the third quarter ended and John Wall (25 points, 10 assists) led the way. Wall also had a career-high of seven steals and set the franchise record for career steals along the way (793).

Wall was followed by Bradley Beal (20 points, nine assists), Kelly Oubre (15 points, six rebounds, two steals), Marcin Gortat (16 points, 12 rebounds, two steals) and Otto Porter (10 points, five rebounds).

Charlotte (14-12) was led by Nic Batum (20 points, eight assists) but he didn’t have much help outside of Kemba Walker (17 points, nine assists) and Cody Zeller (18 points). Marco Belinelli (16 points) came off the bench to spark them when they trailed in the fourth, but the Hornets could never regain the lead. Walker's tying three-pointer rimmed out at the final buzzer.

-- The Wizards were more aggressive in the pick-and-roll coverage, especially Gortat, which threw off Walker’s execution. Gortat didn't get stuck in-between. When he had to contain on Walker, he did so aggressively and prevented the pass over the top to the roller. While they got a few buckets early, the coverage posed problems. Walker tried to split a trap of the ball late but Gortat poked it away to put the Wizards in transition where they had a 20-5 edge in points.

-- Gortat posted up Zeller early. While Zeller is an athletic center who can face up from mid-range, he’s not strong enough to defend for long periods under the basket. Zeller had four fouls by 1:42 of the third as a result. He had a minimal impact on the boards with just two rebounds, an area that the Wizards dominated 41-33.

-- A 10-0 run by the Hornets to open the third quarter broke the game open for a 66-56 lead. It came after Beal made his first shot of the game, a three, to tie the score at 10:12. But the Wizards locked down defensively and cut the deficit to 67-65 with 6:12 left behind hustle plays, defense and creating turnovers by Charlotte. The Hornets had seven in the third that produced 10 points for Washington which was credited with five steals. It was a 38-point third for an 87-77 lead entering the fourth. 

--The second unit did its job for the second game in a row. The Wizards trailed 30-26 entering the second quarter, Jason Smith (season-high 12 points, seven rebounds) had a steal and a layup and Marcus Thornton (five points) had a three and a layup to tie the score at 33. In regards to plus-minus ratings, three of the Wizards were on the positive and Andrew Nicholson was even. Smith reached double figures for the first time this season. And Smith's jumper when the Hornets cut the deficit to 91-85 in the fourth was clutch.

--The absence of Markieff Morris, who was a late scratch because of a sore left foot, meant more time than usual for Smith (19 minutes) and Nicholson (0 points in 5 minutes) but it didn’t result in Tomas Satoransky getting off the bench. The rookie point guard has played some at small forward this season in three-guard lineups because he’s 6-7.

-- Belinelli was stuck on Wall in an isolation and was beaten to the rim. Wall putback his own miss and the two had words as the Wizards went up 99-93. But Wall was assessed his sixth technical foul of the season in the process. 


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Wizards bringing in UNC teammates Coby White and Nassir Little for pre-draft workout

Wizards bringing in UNC teammates Coby White and Nassir Little for pre-draft workout

The Wizards are holding their highest-profile pre-draft workout yet on Monday, hosting UNC teammates and projected lottery picks Coby White and Nassir Little. 

White earned All-ACC and All-Freshman honors during his lone season in Chapel Hill, averaging 16.1 points and 4.1 assists per game. Little's season with the Tar Heels did not go as smoothly as White's, but he is an NBA-ready athlete with tons of upside. 

Both White and Little could be options for the Wizards at No. 9 and would provide solutions to some of Washington's major needs. White would give the Wizards a primary play-maker while John Wall recovers from his Achilles injury, while Little would fill Washington's hole at small forward and bring some much-needed defense and rebounding to the team.

Before White and Little, the Wizards had brought in very few projected lottery picks during their pre-draft process, outside of Kentucky forward Keldon Johnson and French prospect Sekou Doumbouya. But with the 2019 NBA Draft looming on Thursday, the Wizards are ramping up their search for the player they'll pick at No. 9. 


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Anthony Davis trade to Lakers gives Silver Spring's Josh Hart fresh start with Pelicans

Anthony Davis trade to Lakers gives Silver Spring's Josh Hart fresh start with Pelicans

The Anthony Davis trade will have ripple effects across the NBA, not only on teams, but also on the players involved.

Josh Hart, who was traded from the Lakers to the Pelicans as part of the package for Davis on Saturday, could stand to benefit from the move.

First, here's a look at all of the assets reportedly swapped in the deal, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Now, where does the Silver Spring, Md., native figure in the proceedings?

Hart spent his first two NBA seasons with the Lakers. He averaged 7.9 points in 24.4 minutes per game in his two years in Los Angeles. 

Still, Hart was often the Lakers' third or fourth option at shooting guard behind starter Brandon Ingram and shared minutes with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Reggie Bullock and Lance Stephenson. 

LeBron James and the Lakers' win-now strategy left little room to develop Hart last season.

Now in New Orleans, he is part of a franchise rebuilding around presumptive No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson. The trade gave the Pelicans both a younger roster and a long enough timeline for success to develop players.

That can only be good news for Hart, giving him the chance to start fresh and impress Pelicans general manager David Griffin and head coach Alvin Gentry with his potential. 

Where the Sidwell Friends alum fits into the lineup depends on several factors.

At first glance, the new-look Pelicans could start Lonzo Ball at point guard, move Jrue Holiday to shooting guard, then complete the lineup with Ingram at small forward, Williamson at power forward and Julius Randle at center. 

If both Ingram and Holiday remain healthy, Hart would compete with Stanley Johnson to be the first wing off the bench for New Orleans.

But if Ingram does suffer recurring issues related to blood clots, Hart could press his case to start. 

The only issue complicating his place in New Orleans' plans is the No. 4 pick that was traded from the Lakers.

If the Pelicans keep that pick and draft a wing player like Jarrett Culver, Hart could find himself on the outside looking in again.