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Takeaways from Wizards' rout of Knicks to snap losing streak

Takeaways from Wizards' rout of Knicks to snap losing streak

The chicken soup the Wizards were in need of curing their sickness following an unspeakable loss to the Philadelphia 76ers turned out to be the New York Knicks, and they gained a 119-112 victory on Thursday at Verizon Center.

John Wall overcame a slow start on 1-for-6 shooting to post a double-double (23 points, 11 assists) in restricted minutes in the second game of a back-to-back (31). In his return after missing three games with a thigh strain, Bradley Beal (18 points, five assists) played 29 minutes. Otto Porter (21 points) did the job on both ends and Marcin Gortat (16 points, eight rebounds) was effective in the pick-and-roll. 

Marcus Thornton (13 points) led a bench that combined to score 31 points.

Derrick Rose (27 points) led the Knicks and Carmelo Anthony (19 points) was 1-for-8 on three-point attempts. 

The Wizards (3-8) blew this game open in the third quarter with a 35-23 outburst to pull away after leading 52-42 at halftime.

  • The Knicks made a late run behind Brandon Jennings (17 points, 10 assists) but coach Scott Brooks went back to Wall who made consecutive baskets to hold off the charge.  And Wall made sure to remind Jennings of his behavior in a preseason game when he taunted free agent Casper Ware by excessively clapping in his face to taunt him. 
     
  • Anthony had his season-high (37) at Verizon last season, where he bullied Porter in the mid-post and couldn’t miss. Anthony had 10 points in the first half but was just 3 of 8 shooting, including 0-for-3 on threes.Through three quarters, he was 0-for-6 from deep.  Porter not only did a better job of handling his strength but disrupting his jumper before he got the ball high to release. Porter's ability to defend him one-on-one allowed the Wizards to not take risks defensively.
     
  • The pick-and-roll coverage between Rose and Joakim Noah as no match for Wall-Gortat. Wall not only got deep into the lane, he had all options open and usually that meant laying it off for his big to finish. He had eight of his assists by halftime. Having Beal sink into the weakside corner gave him options if Noah, or whichever big the Knicks had in the middle, cracked down on the roll man. And when Gortat had Porzingis on his hip in the post, he attacked him by establishing deeper position in the paint and turning into him for the shot. That got Gortat going early.
     
  • Markieff Morris’ value covering stretch fours showed again. He didn’t have the best game offensively (4-for-11, eight points), but he bothered the 7-3 Kristaps Porzingis enough to force him into tough shots. His 16 points were a far cry from the 35 Porzingis posted in the previous game. Morris didn't give him the real estate he wanted pre-catch and denied him his sweet spots on the floor. Porzingis only scored eight through three quarters as the Wizards were able to lead by as much as 27 points.
     
  • After starting Wednesday, Sheldon McClellan fell completely out of the rotation. So did Trey Burke. Brooks kept his rotation to eight and only went to Jason Smith when Gortat picked up his third foul late in the second quarter. Smith had his best game, however, making hs only two shots and grabbing three rebounds in 11 minutes. If Smith can provide this (and no turnovers) in spot duty, it'll be more than enough especially when Ian Mahinmi returns. 
     
  • Andrew Nicholson has been out of the rotation also, but he had a favorable matchup when the Knicks went to Willy Hernangomez in the middle. Nicholson played as the five and was able to get position and made 1 of 2 shots. Hernangomez only played 10 minutes, so Nicholson logged all six of his in the first half.

[RELATED: Marcin Gortat tweets apology to young crying Wizards fan]

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John Wall takes another step in rehab, facing teammates in practice

John Wall takes another step in rehab, facing teammates in practice

WASHINGTON -- The steady progress continues for John Wall in his rehab from a ruptured left Achilles tendon, as the Wizards point guard is now facing teammates in 4-on-4 drills at practice.

Head coach Scott Brooks described the games as "controlled," noting they were not full-speed or with contact and featured a 10-second shot clock. But that remains a notable step in his road back after he had previously been playing mostly against player development coaches.

"He practiced for the whole practice. He looked great," Brooks said. "There is still a ways to go. But his energy, his enthusiasm, his strength [looks good]. His shot looks better."

Wall, 29, hasn't played in a game since Dec. 26 of 2018. He had surgery on his Achilles on Feb. 12, 2019. He is currently over 11 months into what is typically an 11-to-15 month recovery.

Brooks, though, makes a point to couch positive updates about Wall with patience. The team has indicated he may not play at all this season.

"I don't know if he plays this year," Brooks said. "We can be patient and we're going to be patient because we need him to be right for a lot of years. This is his career and we know how serious that injury is. He's taking it serious."

Part of the equation is the financial commitment the Wizards have made in Wall. He is due roughly $131.5 million over the next three seasons. They want to make sure he is good to go not just for this year, but that he can be effective for the remainder of his contract.

According to Brooks, even having Wall back to this level has added some positive energy to the Wizards' organization.

"I know the excitement is around because he's around and he's looking [good]," Brooks said. "When he comes back, he's going to be the John Wall we all love."

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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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