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Takeaways from Wizards' win over Celtics, 14th straight home victory

Takeaways from Wizards' win over Celtics, 14th straight home victory

A “hostile act” between Markieff Morris and Jae Crowder had to be reviewed midway through the third quarter, but that was the extent of the physical play between the Wizards and Boston Celtics in a game defined by the wearing of black for a midseason game.

The Wizards (25-20) never trailed as they took a 2-1 season series lead to inch closer to the Celtics (26-18) in the East and won their 14th consecutive game at Verizon Center, 123-108 Tuesday night, in front of 16,387.

That’s six wins in the last seven games since a 117-108 defeat to the Celtics at TD Garden on Jan. 11 when tempers flared postgame between John Wall and Jae Crowder and both were assessed fines by the league. The 123 points are a season-high.

Wall (27 points, seven assists, seven rebounds) didn’t have an issue with his right pinkie or left wrist as he did in that game. He sparked five players in double figures, along with Bradley Beal (game-high 31 points, five assists), Morris (19 points, 11 rebounds), Marcin Gortat (16 points, eight rebounds) and Kelly Oubre (11 points).

Isaiah Thomas, who is contending for an All-Star reserve spot with Wall, led Boston (25 points, 13 assists), followed by Al Horford (22 points), Crowder (17 points) and Marcus Smart (13 points).

Oubre had a three-pointer and Wall made consecutive jump shots to end the first quarter with a 33-24 lead. The second unit was shaky to start the fourth quarter with turnovers but coach Scott Brooks called a timeout with 10:43 left to right the ship.

Oubre’s three-pointer with 8:01 left put them up 101-89. Then Beal closed with three baskets. Two came off the dribble as he burned Smart and then Crowder for mid-range pull-ups. The last came off a drive for a 114-100 lead to put it away.

--Brooks went with Oubre defending Thomas in the fourth, and it paid dividends after the Wizards failed to give him a different look when he scored 20 points in the fourth quarter of a comeback Jan. 11. Oubre’s 7-2 wingspan coupled with his superior athleticism against the 5-9 point guard was a difference-maker. Thomas was held to four points in the final 12 minutes. He was 6 of 12 entering the fourth but finished just 7-for-19 shooting.

-- The Wizards immediately went inside to Gortat. On their first three possessions, Gortat got the ball on post-ups and made both shots. He turned it over on the third but taking advantage of Horford, who is undersized in the middle. When the Wizards went to Morris and Jason Smith to open the second quarter, they took advantage of Kelly Olynyk defensively. Horford only had four rebounds and the Wizards had a 42-32 edge.

--Morris picked up his second foul at 9:11 of the second quarter but Brooks stuck with him. He continued to get open looks, including on a pop to the short corner for a three-pointer behind a decoy floppy action for Beal. But where Morris has lapses defensively, contesting shots at the perimeter and taking charges, wasn’t an issue. He took a charge late in the third to negate a possession as ran out to contest a three-point shot from Thomas that hit the side of the backboard. Morris grabbed it and it led to a transition basket for Wall.

--In the last meeting, Brooks complained about game officials swallowing their whistles. A total of 38 fouls were called but this game wasn’t over-officiated. There were 15 more total fouls called with the Wizards taking 21 free throws. Boston took 24.

-- Morris was hit with a technical after getting tangled with Crowder with 7:55 left in the third. It was his sixth of the season which will cost him $3,000 but nothing more came of the confrontation that was minor. Smart, however, clashed with the Celtics' coaching staff late in the game when he was being pulled.

[RELATED: VIDEOS: Wizards arrive in all black for Celtics game]

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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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