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Takeaways from Wizards' win over tough Grizzlies team

Takeaways from Wizards' win over tough Grizzlies team

The Memphis Grizzlies may be more of a finesse team than in years past because of their 3-point shooting, but they went back to their grind-it-out roots to erase most of a 19-point lead before the Wizards held off a late charge to win their 13th in a row at Verizon Center, 104-101, on Wednesday night in front of 15,079.

John Wall posted his 24th double-double (25 points, 13 assists), Markieff Morris has his fourth (17 points, 12 rebounds) and Otto Porter (25 points) did most of his damage in the first half when he had 17. Bradley Beal (12 points) had a rough shooting night at 4-for-14 from the field.

Porter was quiet with just two points in the third quarter, but he knocked down two 3-pointers — two of a career-high six for the game — to stretch the lead for Washington (22-19) back to double-digits.

Marc Gasol (28 points) was the leading scorer for Memphis (25-19) but didn’t make any 3-point shots. It was the center’s three at the end of regulation that sent the Oct. 30 game into overtime that they won. The Wizards led that game 96-88 with a bit more than three minutes left.

Gasol was supported by the play of JaMychal Green (15 points, 13 rebounds) and Mike Conley (20 points, six assists).

The Wizards led 97-89 with 3:11 left in this one and had it whittled to 97-95 after three free throws from Gasol and a three from Conley at 2:34.

But Wall didn’t settle when Gasol switched out onto him for a crucial layup with the shot clock winding down and squeezed through the seam of the help for a layup. After a steal by Porter, Wall pulled the ball back on the baseline and then reversed to attack Gasol again for a layup and a 101-95 lead with 1:45 to seal it.

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--When Wall left the game to end the first quarter, the Wizards were ahead 30-24. When he returned midway through the second, the margin expanded to 48-34 because of another solid performance by the bench with Jason Smith (eight points, three rebounds) and Trey Burke (five points) factoring in early.

--Wall was angry on a no-call on a drive to the basket with 3:44 left in the first quarter and was assessed his ninth technical foul of the season. That puts him at fourth-most in the NBA with 41 games left.  If he reaches 11, the penalty will rise to $4,000. Smith picked up his first technical of the season which will cost him $2,000.

--Morris rushed his first two shots of the third quarter when he would’ve been better off passing the ball back out, resetting and then going at his man. The Wizards had trouble dealing with how much more physical the Grizzlies were out of the locker room, not getting their first field goal until 6:51 on a layup from Wall. The Grizzlies were willing to rack of fouls if it meant slowing the pace and they succeeded and had a chance to tie it on a final three from James Ennis. The Wizards had them in penalty early to shoot two free throws on each foul only to attempt six in the period.

--Tony Allen picked up two fouls in a five-second span of the third and had to go to the bench with four fouls. Beal was able to attack aggressive close outs for a pair of dunks but missed chances at all three open 3-point looks. Allen fouled out with 6:16 left. 

[RELATED: After best game of career, Wizards' rookie gets confidence back]

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Wizards’ Isaiah Thomas returns to practice days before season opener

Wizards’ Isaiah Thomas returns to practice days before season opener

Five weeks after undergoing surgery on his left thumb, Wizards point guard Isaiah Thomas returned to practice Sunday and was a full participant.

Originally expected to miss 6-8 weeks in recovery, Thomas is on track to play much sooner than anticipated. Wizards head coach Scott Brooks wouldn’t go as far to say Thomas would be ready for Washington’s season opener against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, but he did seem optimistic that he’d be playing in the near future.

Thomas signed a one-year minimum deal with the Wizards in July. Once healthy, he’s expected to be the team’s starting point guard with Ish Smith and Justin Robinson coming off the bench.

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Wizards' biggest storylines coming out of the preseason

Wizards' biggest storylines coming out of the preseason


The Wizards closed their 2019-20 preseason schedule with a win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday, which means up next is the regular season opener on Wednesday night in Dallas. Now that the exhibition schedule is (finally) over, here are five takeaways from what we saw...

Injuries have added up

The Wizards entered this preseason with a lot of things to sort out in their rotation due to the significant roster overhaul they went through in the summer. But injuries complicated things further for head coach Scott Brooks, who wasn't offered anything close to a full cupboard to work with.

The most notable injuries were to Isaiah Thomas (thumb) and Troy Brown Jr. (calf). Both players will be key members of the rotation when they recover, but are each on track to miss the start of the regular season. The same goes for C.J. Miles, who has a foot injury. There is also Ian Mahinmi, who has an Achilles issue, though he is not likely to play a big role on the team this season.

Hachimura looks the part

The early returns on rookie Rui Hachimura have been good. The 2019 ninth overall pick has not looked timid or out of place on an NBA floor. He has shown he can attack the rim assertively and has even made a few threes. Those two areas will be key to watch for him this season; how he can adapt to NBA interior defenders and shooting threes from a longer distance.

Hachimura is a likely starter for the Wizards this season and should get ample shot opportunities. He is going to have a chance to be a focal point of the Wizards' offense and probably a long enough leash to play through his mistakes. As a young player, you can't ask for much more than that.

Also impressive this preseason were Moe Wagner, who was much better than he showed in the Las Vegas Summer League, and Thomas Bryant, who looks like he is going to take another step from his breakout season last year. Bryant is more confident knocking down threes and has been a force on the glass. Don't be surprised if he averages a double-double this season.

Small forward is a question

The Wizards had Brown penciled in to be their full-time starting small forward, according to a person familiar with their plans, but his injury is expected to keep him out to start the season. He did a post-practice workout the other day and wasn't moving very quickly, either due to discomfort in his calf or to be extra cautious in fear of a setback.

Either way, he is still rehabbing and so is Miles. The Wizards also released Justin Anderson, leaving them with no obvious choice to start at the three. At this point, it looks likely they will have to either put someone there that is probably best suited for another position like Hachimura, Davis Bertans or Jordan McRae, or roll with someone who is very inexperienced like Bonga or Admiral Schofield. The odds seem better they choose the former.

Final roster spot?

The Wizards now have to decide who gets their final roster spot. The safe money at this point is probably for point guard Justin Robinson and wing Jordan McRae to be the 14th and 15th players on the roster and for Chris Chiozza to have his contract converted to a two-way deal.

The Chiozza part has been speculated for weeks and it is the direction the team is leaning, NBC Sports Washington was told. If Chiozza did get the two-way contract, he could remain with the team to start the season and help fill the void at point guard while Thomas recovers from his left thumb surgery. Chiozza would have 45 days allotted at the NBA level, but that clock would not begin until Oct. 28 when G-League training camps open.

Beal's commitment

This season took on an entirely different tone with Thursday's news Bradley Beal would sign a contract extension with the Wizards. This year had the potential to be overshadowed by Beal's uncertain future, but now that has been put to rest. The trade rumors can be set aside as Beal has made it official his commitment to the Wizards' plan.

Now, that could get interesting late in the year if losses are piling up. He ultimately wants to win and it will bear watching how he shows his frustration if the team isn't playing up to his standards.

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