Wizards

Quick Links

Takeaways from Wizards' win over Pistons behind Bradley Beal's big night

Takeaways from Wizards' win over Pistons behind Bradley Beal's big night

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Fifty wins are still in play for the Wizards after they went without John Wall and Otto Porter to turn out the lights at The Palace on Monday, 105-101.

Kelly Oubre (10 points, six rebounds) and Brandon Jennings (two points, six assists, five steals) started in their place as Washington (49-32) never trailed after the midway point of the first quarter. They led by as many as 15 in the final home game for the Pistons at the arena they have called home since 1988.

Bradley Beal (33 points) was on fire from the start. He made 7 of 10 shots, including a Hail Mary off a difficult catch in the corner for a 55-42 halftime lead.

Markieff Morris (20 points, eight rebounds) and Marcin Gortat (eight points, eight rebounds, five assists) started while Ian Mahinmi (six points, 11 rebounds) was a force inside off the bench along with Tomas Satoransky (11 points, three assists) and Bojan Bogdanovic (nine points).

The Pistons (37-44) were listless outside of Ish Smith (16 points, nine assists) and a muted performance from Andre Drummond (10 points, seven rebounds) who only played 24 minutes. Tobias Harris (22 points) helped trim the deficit to 79-73 entering the fourth and tied it twice.

They Pistons could never regain the lead. Beal had two plays where he blew by Stanley Johnson, one off a curl and another on a face-up move, for layups in a 43-second span that squashed their hopes after getting to within 90-88. Beal had a thunderous dunk with 34 seconds left and drew the foul. That put the Wizards ahead 103-97 and he made the final two free throws to cap the scoring. 

The Wizards won the season series with Detroit 2-1. Their regular-season finale is Wednesday at the Miami Heat, who have won all three of their meetings. A win puts them at 50.

The Pistons will move downtown next season to Little Caesars Arena. The Palace, almost an hour's drive outside the city, will be demolished despite being one of the NBA's better facilities to watch a game.

[RELATED: VIDEO: Mahinmi leaves game after apparent leg injury]

--Jennings set a brisk pace from the opening tip. He was able to gamble more successfully vs. Smith, who isn’t a threat from deep and can be contained if playing him for the drive. Jennings got the offense going right away and had a nifty one-hand pass to Mahinmi that should’ve been an assist but the big man missed. Up 98-94 with 90 seconds left, Jennings opted for a quick flip pass in transition that was too difficult to handle for Jason Smith (six points, six rebounds, three assists) that was a turnover. Detroit responded with a three-pointer to give it new life.

--Boban Marjanovic (eight points, eight rebounds) was confused by Mahinmi, who could match the 300-pound center’s strength and defended him in isolation in the post. Marjanovic couldn’t get deep post position as Mahinmi used an arm bar technique perfectly to stand him up and beat him to the spot when he tried to make a counter move.  When Drummond was in, Mahinmi pressured him in the high post to prevent the cutters from getting the ball cleanly going to the rim. But at 4:47 of the fourth, Mahinmi contested Ish Smith’s jumper and had to limp off the floor after consultation with the head athletic trainer.

--With Wall out, Trey Burke became the backup behind Jennings played his first real minutes since Feb. 28 after Jennings was signed as a free agent. Burke had made just two appearances since then totaling seven minutes. Burke contributed to what started out as a fruitful second quarter but had two turnovers in eight minutes and lost Ish Smith off the ball. He didn’t play after that.

--Morris had his second consecutive strong offensive game as he was too skilled for Henry Ellenson, who couldn’t defend him in the mid-post or facing up. The Pistons had to send a help defender, usually Drummond or Marjanovic, but that’s why they were outrebounded 48-36. Morris went at Jon Leuer (zero points) in a move across the lane for a fading jumper to push the lead to 98-94. He faced up Leuer again and went baseline with a sweepthrough move for the falling down jumper and a 100-97 lead. Beal did the rest.

--Satoransky has more confidence in his shot. He made 4 of 6, including a three-pointer from the short corner when Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ran at him to contest. When the Pistons tied the score at 79, Satoransky broke it with a pull-up jumper the next time down. His first assist was to Jason Smith in the fourth and Satoransky had two free throws for an 85-81 advantage. He played 19 minutes, his most since Jan. 14.

--No regular starter played more than Beal’s 33 minutes. Gortat logged 21 and Morris 27.  

[RELATED: Wizards complete biggest turnaround from 2-8 start in NBA history]

Quick Links

The same day the Mystics clinched a playoff spot, Natasha Cloud made some history of her own

natasha-cloud-mystics-pass-usat.jpg
USA Today

The same day the Mystics clinched a playoff spot, Natasha Cloud made some history of her own

Ladies and gentlemen, it doesn't get much better than this. 

The same night the Mystics clinched a playoff spot with an 86-79 win over the Minnesota Lynx, Natasha Cloud made some history of her own.

With 8:25 left in the first quarter, Cloud hit an open Elena Della Donne who finished strongly at the basket. With the pass, Cloud became the franchise's all-time leader in assists. 

Drafted by the Mystics back in 2015, Cloud has been integral to the team's rise to the top of the standings. She's averaging a career-high 5.4 assists and 8.8 points while leading the team in minutes at 32.3 per game. 

Needless to say, her teammates were excited for her. 

Hopefully, this magical season will finish with a championship, redeeming the Mystics of their 2018 Finals loss. 

MORE BASKETBALL NEWS

 

Quick Links

As Monumental Basketball gets underway, Mystics are leading the charge

As Monumental Basketball gets underway, Mystics are leading the charge

Monumental Basketball, the new vertical that encompasses the NBA's Wizards, the Capital City Go-Go of the G-League, the Mystics of the WNBA and District Gaming of the NBA 2K League, is designed to help all of the respective teams owned and operated by Ted Leonsis and his partners. The Mystics, though, don't need nearly as much assistance as the others.

Sitting atop the WNBA with a league-best 18-7 record, the Mystics look well on their way to another deep playoff run. Last year, it ended in a loss in the WNBA Finals. This year, they have an even better roster capable of winning it all.

On Wednesday, the Mystics routed the Seattle Storm, last year's champions, by 29 points. They did so despite missing All-Star point guard Kristi Tolliver and with their best player, Elena Delle Donne, scoring 14 points. They might be the deepest team in the WNBA with a bench that is starting lineup-caliber.

The Mystics have already arrived, but it took some time to get here. When head coach and general manager Mike Thibault took over in 2013, they had won 11 total games the previous two years. Five years later, they were title contenders.

Leonsis wants to see the same upward trajectory for his other teams. Thibault believes the new program can help everyone get on track.

"The overall structure can be so good when you are inclusive and you have services that are available to everybody," Thibault told NBC Sports Washington. 

"I think that one of the things that I learned in trying to rebuild the Mystics is that you need a lot of hands to make it work. I go back to the days where you had a head coach and one or two assistants. The game has changed so much. If you can make a player coming in, whether it’s to the Mystics or the Wizards, feel like they are a part of something bigger."

Thibault, 68, knows what good organizations look like, as he has been a part of many over the years. He was a scout for the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1980s during their dynasty. He later worked for the Chicago Bulls and oversaw the scouting department when they drafted Michael Jordan. It wasn't until the 2000s that he joined the WNBA ranks, first with a successful run as coach of the Connecticut Sun before coming to Washington.

Thibault believes the player services arm of Monumental Basketball will be particularly helpful.

"Let’s say you’re traded to the Wizards. You’re coming from a different city and it’s a new environment. Your family has to move and you have kids. That’s a whole thing in and of itself," he explained.

"What can we do for their post-career ability? Do they want to be a coach? Do they want to go into broadcasting, or business? There are so many things you can do to enhance how comfortable a player and a family is coming to an organization. It’s something that just makes you special as an organization."

Thibault says some of benefits Monumental Basketball will provide have already been utilized by the Mystics, including mental health professionals and nutritionists. What can help the Mystics in particular is more synergy with the Wizards.

This is the first season the Mystics are playing at the new arena at St. Elizabeth's in Southeast Washington. They now share a practice facility and office space with the Wizards. Thibault believes there are positives to feeling part of a larger operation.

"I think our players already sense that," he said. "You see Wizards players, you see Tommy Sheppard and others at our games. That makes you feel like you’re a part of a bigger thing. We have a dining room where all of the players can socialize in both of the organizations."

When the creation of Monumental Basketball was announced, Leonsis noted Thibault will have a certain level of autonomy in what he does. Some of the executives hired by the organization like John Thompson III, who will help with player wellness, and Dr. Daniel Medina, who will assist in training and health, will provide services to the Mystics. But Thibault will pick the players and set the vision for basketball operations.

Thibault, though, knows Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard well and thinks the team is in good hands.

"He’s got ideas. He’s very forward thinking. I think he’s a great judge of personnel and character. I think he’s very thorough in what he does," Thibault said. 

"I think that when you’re trying to build an organization, there are process you have to go through and steps you have to take to be good. I think he knows you have to have patience to do that. I think if fans give him the chance to do what he’s great at, they will see the results over time. It might take time, but he will get them there."

MORE BASKETBALL NEWS: