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Takeaways from the Wizards' narrow win over Phoenix Suns

Takeaways from the Wizards' narrow win over Phoenix Suns

Well on their way to a blowout of the Phoenix Suns, the Wizards wasted a 22-point lead, fell down by 11 themselves and had to come back to win 131-127 on Tuesday night to sweep the season series.

The Wizards (38-24) trailed 81-70 midway through the third quarter but righted themselves with a 24-11 run.

The game turned at 10:45 of the second quarter when Jared Dudley took exception to a foul by Jason Smith when he set a hard screen on Tyler Ulis. Dudley ran full speed and chest bumped Smith and Brandon Jennings entered the fray.

Punches weren’t thrown but Dudley and Jennings were ejected. The Wizards led 44-29 shortly after that but had the deficit cut to 68-61 by halftime.

Bradley Beal (27 points) led Washington, followed by John Wall (25 points, 14 assists), Bojan Bogdanovic (29 points, nine rebounds), Jason Smith (17 points, six rebounds) and Ian Mahinmi (15 points, nine rebounds, career-high seven steals). Bogdanovic's 29 points were a season-high for a Wizards reserve.

Phoenix (21-43) was led by Eric Bledsoe (30 points) but had too many players in foul trouble in the end to mount a comeback.

Wall looked sluggish early but finished strong as the Wizards broke open a 110-110 tie with an 8-0 run. They stretched it to double digits in the final two minutes in the first of five road games.

[RELATED: VIDEO: Suns gorilla mascot dives onto court during Wizards game]

--The Suns got back in it because of their transition play. They scored a season-high 53 points on the break, 26 more than the Wizards who weren’t as crisp getting back to stop their rim runs after getting a comfortable lead.

--Devin Booker (25 points) had six turnovers in the first half, and a lot of them came when he was trying to run the pick-and-roll at Mahinmi who is good at containment and has good hands. Mahinmi had five steals alone in his first 14 minutes on the floor.

--Otto Porter, Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris were non-entities. They combined to shoot 5-for-19 from the field. When the Wizards tried to play through Morris and Gortat in the post to open the third quarter they were unsuccessful as Phoenix went on a 15-2 run to take a 76-70 lead. Gortat, however, did make two key plays in the final four minutes when he converted a pass from Wall for a layup and a 115-110 lead and then took a charge on Marquese Chriss (nine points) to negate a basket.

--Morris and Wall were disconnected so badly that during Phoenix’s run in the second quarter, they attempted a switch that led to Bledsoe’s open three. There was a lot of confusion in trying to counter Phoenix’s small lineups. Bledsoe shoots just 33% from three, but when he gets an open shot his accuracy -- like with most players -- rises. He drained it in the comeback from 22 down. Morris wanted the switch. Wall didn't. And Wall allowed a late three-point look from Booker when he hesitated on whether or not to run at the shooter. Fortunately for him, Booker missed but indecisions such as this were why Phoenix made 13 of 27 threes, or 48.1%.

--Trey Burke hadn’t played in the previous four games but Wall needed a breather to end the third. He was quickly stripped by Ulis and committed a foul to put him at the line. Ulis made 1 of 2 free throws but Williams got the rebound on the miss for a putback to make it a three-point play for Phoenix. Burke started the fourth quarter and was short on his first shot. The Wizards lost their lead three minutes into it and had to go to Beal instead.

[RELATED: VIDEO: Shoving match breaks out between Suns and Wizards]

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Wizards fall flat in battle with young Grizzlies

Wizards fall flat in battle with young Grizzlies

The Washington Wizards lost to the Memphis Grizzlies 128-111 on Saturday night. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

1. It was just over a week ago the Wizards had their best win of the season against the Sixers. Saturday night was one of their worst.

They went into Memphis to play an emerging, but struggling team and got their you-know-whats handed to them. The Wizards jumped out to a 13-6 lead in the first, then lost the momentum and never got it back.

By halftime the Wizards were down 15. That deficit grew to 24 in the second half.

The Wizards ended up losing by 17, but it wasn't as close as the score would suggest. It was Washington's seventh loss in eight games.

Maybe it was the three-day layoff. Perhaps they weren't sharp. Whatever the reason, that was a bad one.

2. As this game went on, it became very obvious that Memphis' gameplan was to make sure Davis Bertans didn't beat them. They swarmed the Latvian Laser on the perimeter and guarded him well beyond the three-point line.

Bertans was held to nine points on 2-for-9 shooting and 1-for-6 from three. His one three was a quick release shot from about 27 feet out. Soon after that, the defense was picking him up at halfcourt.

 

This type of treatment was inevitable for Bertans, who has been the biggest surprise of the Wizards' season so far. He has turned into one of the league's best three-point shooters and the second-best scorer on the team. Teams now know it.

3. Rui Hachimura's college teammate stole the show in this one. Brandon Clarke, who played last year with Hachimura at Gonzaga, put on an impressive scoring display highlighted by a series of vicious dunks. He measured a max vertical of 40 1/2 inches and used every inch of it to dunk all over the Wizards.

He had 19 points in the first half, including an alley-oop where his head was level with the rim and a poster dunk on the fastbreak that nearly ended Ian Mahinmi's career.

 

Clarke had 25 points on 11-for-14 shooting with four rebounds. Coming out of the draft, he was considered a good defensive player but too old (he's 23) and too raw offensively without a three-point shot.

So far, he's looking like a major steal at the 21st overall pick. 

4. The Grizzlies might not be good, but they are fun to watch and have a nice young core with Clarke alongside Jaren Jackson Jr. and Morant. Jackson is a unicorn at 6-foot-11 with the ability to drive coast-to-coast and hit threes. Morant is a force of nature, able to play well above the rim despite being 6-foot-3.

Morant nearly pulled off one of the most disrespectful plays in basketball on Bradley Beal. He tried to pull a "Michael Jordan on Ron Mercer" by snatching the ball off the glass with two hands. But he clipped the rim and was called for goaltending. Still, it was impressive because of how high he got in the air.

Memphis has an exciting young team. They might contend for a playoff spot next year with a good offseason. If they were in the East, they could really make some noise.

5. The Wizards were without several key regulars once again. Isaiah Thomas missed his fifth straight game with a left calf strain and Moe Wagner was out with his left ankle sprain after playing in the past four games.

They did get back Garrison Mathews, though. The two-way guard played in his first game since Oct. 25 after sitting out due to a stress reaction in his right leg. It was Mathews' third professional game, but he made his first shot - a corner three. It happened to come in his home state of Tennessee. 

Mathews might actually get some minutes in the next few weeks because he is the second-best shooting guard on the roster with Jordan McRae out due to a finger injury.

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Wizards release statement on the passing of John Wall's mother

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Wizards release statement on the passing of John Wall's mother

The Washington Wizards announced the passing of John Wall's mother, Frances Pulley on Friday. 

Wall's mother had been battling cancer before her passing. She was 58. 

In a statement on Twitter, the Wizards said, "Sending thoughts and love for John Wall and his family after the passing of his mother, Frances Pulley. She will forever be a part of our #DCFamily."

Zach Leonsis, the senior vice president of strategic initiatives at Monumental Sports & Entertainment, also released a statement

"Thinking of @JohnWall and his family right now. Keeping you guys in our prayers. So terribly sorry for your loss and know that she will be remembered forever. #DCFamily

Wall's Kentucky coach, John Calipari also expressed his condolences for his former star: 

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