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Takeaways from Wizards' impressive win over Bucks

Takeaways from Wizards' impressive win over Bucks

Looking like a more stable team minus the dropoff with the second unit, the Wizards won their second game in a row as they came behind in a tough matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, 110-105.

The Wizards (9-13) trailed 100-95 but went on a 10-0 run to have the lead in the final 90 seconds. 

John Wall (24 points, 11 assists), Bradley Beal (20 points) and Markieff Morris (15 points, 9 rebounds) led the Wizards in a game that was closely contested from start to finish.

Otto Porter (10 points), Marcin Gortat (9 points, 14 rebounds) and Kelly Oubre (19 points, 9 rebounds) also contributed. It was Oubre's career-high in scoring.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (28 points, 13 rebounds) led the way for Milwaukee, playing on the second night of a back-to-back. Mirza Teletovic (25 points) was a spark off the bench along with rookie Malcolm Brogdon (11 points). John Henson (14 points) did most of his damage in the first half.

Porter and Oubre had clutch buckets in the last five minutes cut the deficit to 98-95 as they overcame two bad pass turnovers from Wall in transition late.

Wall made up for it by pushing the pace no matter what, and a twist of screens by Gortat freed him for a layup and a 101-100 lead with 3:03 left, Oubre had a steal and dunk and Beal a layup to shut the door.

--Antetokounmpo is a difficult matchup for anyone because of his length and size at 6-10. Porter needed more help as he has trouble with bigger, more physical players. The Wizards were more successful when they doubled with a guard and forced him to make a decision with the ball. He had seven of Milwaukee’s 20 turnovers.

--The second unit, led by Oubre and Trey Burke, went on a 12-0 run to erase a 32-23 deficit to start the second quarter. Morris played with them, including Andrew Nicholson and Marcus Thornton. By the time be re-entered for Thornton at 7:26, it was all. Wall came in one minute later for Burke. Not having to erase a big deficit meant neither backcourt starter had to log unusually high minutes, either.

--Teletovic registered DNP-CD’s in the previous two games for Milwaukee. He was instant offense in his first 10 minutes with eight points, making 2 of 3 three-point shots. He signed a three-year deal for $30 million this summer, leaving Phoenix, and is the type of stretch option the Wizards probably could’ve benefitted from off the bench considering their struggles scoring.

-- Morris and Gortat had their opportunities because of the way the Bucks defended the pick-and-roll. They trapped and doubled Wall and Beal. That meant the pocket pass was there or the rebounds off misses. The Wizards shot just 38.8% in the first half but the duo had 15 of their 25 rebounds. The Wizards had four more overall, including plus-10 on the offensive glass.

-- Oubre’s energy and defense has rocketed him up the rotation. He played more than anyone on the bench, 29 minutes, and almost had his second career double-double by halftime (nine points, seven rebounds). Oubre also finished the game with Porter again instead of Morris when the Wizards made the late run.

-- Jason Smith dropped from the rotation as he played just 21 seconds to end the second quarter, but he made two shots in the fourth quarter to steady them.

[RELATED: WIZARDS IMPRESSED BY LONGEVITY OF BUCKS' JASON TERRY]

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Potential coaching staff changes rocket into discussion for Wizards

Potential coaching staff changes rocket into discussion for Wizards

We can begin free agent watch with the Washington Wizards way before July 1.

This isn’t about players. Coaching changes can happen whenever.

News broke Saturday out of Houston that the Rockets would not retain associate head coach Jeff Bzdelik. Considered one of the league’s top defensive minds, Bzdelik’s relationship with Scott Brooks along with comments made by the Wizards head coach at the NBA Combine makes this transaction interesting.

Bzdelik, 66, gave Brooks his first NBA coaching job when the then Denver Nuggets head coach hired the former player in 2003.

"I'm thankful for coach Bzdelik," Brooks told the Houston Chronicle in 2016.  "He gave me my first NBA coaching start. One of the best coaches I've ever been around. He has great understanding of the game, both ends of the floor.”

Fast forward to Thursday inside Chicago’s Quest Multisport facility. Amid 5-on-5 games involving 2019 draft prospects, players holding court with media members and the general convention vibe that comes with the NBA Combine, Brooks spent a few minutes chatting with reporters.

Among the non-draft or general manager search topics, whether any changes to the coaching staff were forthcoming.

"I’ve talked to Ted. I definitely talked Ted,” Brooks began his reply, referencing Wizards owner Ted Leonsis. “I have a lot of respect for our organization. I have to get better, first and foremost…Will the staff remain the same? Every year, staffs change. Every year staffs change. We're probably going to make some changes. I don't know if it's for sure. Everything is still up in the air.”

Brooks also noted change could come from members of his staff seeking opportunities elsewhere. Tony Brown, Brooks’ lead assistant during his three seasons with the Wizards, became a coaching free agent following Washington’s 32-50 season, according to NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller.

Two days after Brooks’ comments came news of Bzdelik’s exit in Houston.

Bzdelik, a former Bullets assistant from 1988-94 and three-time college head coach, retired following the 2017-18 season. He returned to the Rockets in November following Houston’s slow start. The associate head coach is credited with guiding the team’s defensive improvement as the Rockets rose up the Western Conference standings.

The Houston Chronicle reported Bzdelik, whose contract expired after this season, remained uncommitted to returning. The Rockets announced Saturday they would not renew his deal.

The Wizards do not want a repeat of their defensive struggles. Only the Atlanta Hawks allowed more points per game than the 116.9 Washington surrendered last season. The Wizards ranked 28th in opponent field goal percentage (48.0) and 27th in 3-point shooting percentage (37.0).

It’s unclear how the Wizards fix those defensive concerns based solely on personnel. The current roster with five healthy players does not include any forwards or mobile big men. Point guard John Wall is expected to miss the majority of the upcoming season following February’s surgery for a ruptured Achilles. Wall, an erratic defensive presence in recent seasons, was previously selected to the NBA’s all-defensive team in 2015.

Coaching strategies could become the primary driver of change on the defensive end. The man who brought Brooks into the coaching fraternity would make for an obvious addition if both sides are interested.

"The accountability that [Jeff] taught me with the coaching staff and the players is second to none,” Brooks told the Chronicle in 2016. “I learned about work. I learned how to transfer my playing career into a coaching career with his help."

News of the next front office leader likely comes before coaching staff tweaks.

Nuggets President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly was offered the same position with the Wizards Saturday after Denver granted Washington permission to meet. In the interim, the Wizards sent a contingent of scouting personnel along with Brooks to Chicago as the team conducted player interviews and watched scrimmages.

“Ted is going to make a decision and I trust that I going to be the best for the program moving forward,” Brooks said Thursday. “As of right now, (interim GM Tommy Sheppard) is doing a great job leading the group. We all feel comfortable with what’s going on. Hopefully, things work out and we move forward as an organization. We all have to get better, myself included.”

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Five things to know about Wizards general manager search candidate Tim Connelly

Five things to know about Wizards general manager search candidate Tim Connelly

The Washington Wizards have reportedly offered their vacant general manager position to Tim Connelly. The news was first reported by the Athletic.

Here are five things to know about him...

1. Connelly is a Baltimore native who transferred to Catholic University in D.C. during his junior year in college, graduating from there in 1999. 

2. Connelly began his NBA front office career with the Wizards, starting as an intern in 1996. He spent a decade with the organization, holding such roles as assistant video coordinator, head scout, and director of player personnel. 

3. After leaving the Wizards, Connelly spent three seasons serving as the assistant general manager of the New Orleans Pelicans. 

4. Connelly joined the Nuggets organization in 2013 as the executive vice president of basketball operations. He was promoted to President of Basketball Operations in 2017. Connelly has been part of a Denver front office that has drafted the likes of Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Gary Harris over the last five years. 

5. Connelly has six siblings, including four brothers: Joe, Pat, Dan and Kevin. All four of them have also worked in basketball in some capacity, Joe, Pat, and Dan all following Tim into the NBA ranks. 

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