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Takeaways from Wizards' win over Denver Nuggets

Takeaways from Wizards' win over Denver Nuggets

Unlike in previous games this season when the Wizards have been guilty of coming out flat against an undermanned opponent, they toyed with the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center 123-113 to keep the pressure on for the No. 2 seed in the East.

The Wizards (39-24) won their second game in a row to start a five-game road trip out West. They won the first game of the back-to-back on Tuesday at the Phoenix Suns.

John Wall (30 points, 10 assists) led all scorers followed by Bradley Beal (23 points, five assists), Otto Porter (22 points, four steals), Markieff Morris (11 points) and Marcin Gortat (11 points, 15 rebounds) with his 34th double-double. It was his first in five games.  

They sweep the season series 2-0 with Denver (29-35), which was playing without two of their best players in Nikola Jokic (flu) and Danilo Gallinari (vertigo).

They hung close until the Wizards pulled away at the end of the first quarter. Only up 29-28, the Wizards closed with a 6-0 run behind steals from Bojan Bogdanovic (10 points) and Brandon Jennings (four points, six assists) for easy buckets.

The Nuggets trimmed an 11-point deficit to 42-39 midway through the second quarter but a 25-11 run effectively put the game away though they’d make another push to end the third and again in the fourth.

The Wizards will be off Thursday before playing another back-to-back set Friday at the Sacramento Kings and Saturday at the Portland Trail Blazers.

Wilson Chandler (21 points) and Gary Harris (26 points) led the Nuggets. Jamal Murray (17 points) sparked them off the bench with his three-point range.

[RELATED: VIDEO: Morris ejected for kicking Plumlee in groin]

--A 35-point third quarter allowed Denver to trim a 24-point deficit to 97-85 entering the fourth though Wall played all 12 minutes. But Jennings, Bogdanovic and Ian Mahinmi (seven points, four rebounds) stretched it back to 16 with 8:12 to play.

--In Washington’s first seven sets of back-to-back games, they were 0-2, 1-1 (five times) and 0-2. With this win, they’ve now gone 2-0 in four consecutive back-to-back sets.

--Morris, Porter and Gortat only combined for five field goals and 14 points in the previous game. Morris made 3 of 3 while Porter shot 10-for-15 and Gortat 5-for-10. Porter had made just one three-pointer in his previous two games. He shot 2-for-3 to maintain his spot as the league’s most accurate shooter from distance. The last one at 53.7 seconds left put the lead to 119-108 to seal it.

--Chandler got the first field goal for the Nuggets on a busted coverage. While Gortat rotated properly to the ball, Morris also went to the ball which left Chandler alone under the rim. It represented a continuation of confusion on coverages that almost came back to bite them after blowing a 22-point lead in Phoenix.

--With 5:05 left and the lead down to 108-97 for Washington, coach Scott Brooks had to go back to his starting five rather than keep them under 30 minutes. Only Morris stayed below (26 minutes).

--Morris was ejected because of a Flagrant 2 with 2:08 left on Mason Plumlee. Morris was stripped of the ball as he went up to shoot and struck Plumlee between the legs. The play initially wasn’t going to reviewed but when head official Marc Davis did so it resulted in the ejection.

--Coming off 17 points in his last game, Jason Smith didn’t make an appearance. 

[RELATED: Mahinmi has arrived for Wizards as defensive force]

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' last-second loss to Heat

5 must-see moments from Wizards' last-second loss to Heat

The Washington Wizards lost to the Miami Heat 113-112 on Thursday night in their 2018-19 regular-season opener. Here are five plays or moments worth revisiting...

Five Must-See Moments from Wizards vs. Heat

1. BooooOubre

Someone was in the Halloween spirit. Two weeks before the holiday arrives, Kelly Oubre Jr. is already wearing costumes.

He showed up to the game wearing chains and holding a skull. Perhaps this was intended to send a message to his arch-rival, Kelly Olynyk, who now plays for the Heat:

More on Oynyk later...

2.  Flashes of brilliance from Wizards bench

Though the Wizards' bench produced mixed results, there were many moments where they flashed the potential to be much-improved year-over-year. The guard combination of Tomas Satoransky and Austin Rivers, in particular, is enticing. 

On this play, they were on the same page as Rivers caught the defense sleeping and Satoransky found him with a well-timed bounce pass:

3. Jason Smith makes the most of opportunity

With Dwight Howard out, head coach Scott Brooks had to turn to Ian Mahinmi as the starter and that meant Jason Smith as his backup. Smith had an uneven night battling Hassan Whiteside, but made some nice plays on the offensive end. 

On this one, he finished an alley-oop assisted by Wall:

Smith also had this dunk just a few minutes earlier:

Smith had four points and six rebounds.

4. Wall-Star Mode

This was the best play of the night. Wall, who had been getting into the lane with ease for much of the first half, exploded to the rim and threw down one of his signature left-handed hooks:

Wall had 26 points, nine assists, three blocks, and a steal.

5. Olynyk sinks Wizards ... again

Okay, back to Olynyk. He was booed all night by Wizards fans, who remember his incident with Oubre in the 2017 playoffs, but the Heat center had the last laugh. He was in perfect position to grab an offensive rebound and lay it in for the go-ahead points in the final seconds:

That was Miami's 22nd offensive rebound of the night. What a tough way for the Wizards to lose their opener, on a complete lapse in focus right when it counted most.

BONUS: Oubre stays hyped

Oubre didn't have a great shooting night, as he went 2-for-8 from the field and 0-for-3 from three, but he did a nice job attacking the rim. On this play, he cleaned up a miss with a killer putback slam.

The only problem is that he got a technical foul for taunting Whiteside right after.


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Otto Porter Jr. begins 2018-19 season with way too few shot attempts in Wizards' loss

Otto Porter Jr. begins 2018-19 season with way too few shot attempts in Wizards' loss

The initiative to get Otto Porter Jr. more attempts from three this season is not off to a great start.

That right there is called an understatement. Because it would be one thing if Porter only took a couple of them, but he literally took zero against the Heat on Thursday night in the Wizards' 2018-19 regular season opener.

Yes, one of the NBA's best three-point shooters didn't even get off a single attempt from long range. That is simply hard to justify, especially after a preseason in which the team had a stated goal to shoot more threes than ever before.

It wasn't just threes. The often deferential Porter was even more gun shy than normal. He only took seven total shots in the 113-112 loss and topped out at just nine points.

Porter, in fact, had just one field goal attempt until there was 1:19 remaining in the first half, when he got two of them on the same play thanks to a rebound on his own miss.

Porter still affected the game in other ways, per usual. He had 11 rebounds, three steals and three blocks and finished +1 in +/- rating.

But for Porter to reach the next level as a player, he has to add volume to his efficient scoring numbers.

"We will look at the film and figure it out," head coach Scott Brooks said. "It's not like we go into the game wanting to only shoot 26 threes [as a team] and Otto shoot zero."

Brooks continued to say the problem is a combination of several things. More plays could be called for Porter and his teammates could look for him more often.

But ultimately, it's up to Porter to assert himself and take initiative. Granted, that may have been easier said than done against the Heat, who boast one of the best perimeter defenders in basketball in Josh Richardson. They are a scrappy team with athletic and hard-nosed defenders on the wing.

For Porter, though, that shouldn't matter. Ultimately, his share of the offense is up to him. The ball is going to swing around often enough for him to create his own opportunities.

Porter only taking seven shots is a bad sign considering Thursday was a better opportunity to get shots than he may receive in most games. The Wizards added Dwight Howard this summer and last season he averaged 11.2 shots per game, 3.4 more than Marcin Gortat, whom he replaced in the starting lineup.

It won't be easy, but the Wizards need Porter to take matters into his own hands.