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Takeways from Wizards' dazzling rout of Nets to get to .500

Takeways from Wizards' dazzling rout of Nets to get to .500

Bradley Beal didn’t play for the fourth time this season, and it turns out the Wizards didn’t need him with Trey Burke setting his season-high.

Burke (27 points) had his best game of the season and was aided by the hustle play of Jason Smith (10 points, eight rebounds) and Marcus Thornton (eight points, five assists) off the bench, too, in a 118-95 win over the Brooklyn Nets to get the Wizards (16-16) to .500 for the first time to end the calendar year.

John Wall (19 points, 14 assists) had his way with Brooklyn, too, and Otto Porter (12 points, four rebounds) got the Wizards out to 57% shooting in the first quarter.

Marcin Gortat (19 points, 13 rebounds) was dominant inside and Markieff Morris (10 points, six rebounds) was an early spark as he took advantage of his mismatch with Trevor Booker (16 points, seven rebounds), who had a good statistical game but a bulk of that came with the game out of reach.

The Wizards end December 10-5 and have won eight in a row at Verizon Center to improve to 13-6 for the season. They lead the season series with Brooklyn 2-0.


-- When the Wizards had to come back to win in Brooklyn 118-113, they had to erase a 66-51 deficit after halftime. They flipped the script in this one almost exactly. They led 66-50 at the break because of 12-0 edge in fast-break points, 13-4 on second chance, 23-17 in rebounding, 57.4% shooting (27 of 47) and 50% on threes (7-for-14).

--Morris picked up three fouls by 4:13 of the second quarter to ruin his rhythm. But he also got away with a shove of Isaiah Whitehead, who had fallen to the floor, that went uncalled or he would’ve gone to the bench quicker. Morris’ early buckets contributed to the fast start as his rolls to the basket were mostly straight lines.  The Nets didn’t stop the ball or the roller in screen-roll action.

--Porter came up limp on a blocked shot on Bojan Bogdanovic (12 points) towards the end of the first half but he started the third quarter. He only scored two after a 10-point first quarter but otherwise seemed OK. He played 31 minutes. Bogdanovich likes to get curls off the ball and catch it running in full stride to the rim, an action that Porter had difficulty defending the first time. The Wizards took those away with good help.

--Gortat had five dunks in the second half because Brooklyn’s coverage of the pick-and-roll was non-existent. He had free dives to the basket and there wasn’t even an attempt at rotating to prevent the finish. Lopez got the better of him in their first meeting when he had 25 points but Gortat dominated this one. The Wizards’ big man made 8 of 13 shots.

--Scott Brooks had to call a timeout after Booker and Lopez drained threes to cut the deficit to 76-65. They responded with consecutive dunks from Gortat and Porter to push the lead back to 15 points at 5:57. Wall responded with a chasedown block of Bogdanovic to prevent a layup and then sliced down the paint and threw down a vicious one-hand dunk over 7-footer Justin Hamilton.

--Wall has 20 double-doubles, 10 coming in December and eight in the last nine games. Wall had a special December last season, too, when the NBA named him Player of the Month. Wall, however, hasn’t won player of the week. Still, he’ll be in the running with averages of 24.5 points and 10.7 assists in 15 games. 

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Wizards District Gaming takes JBM with No.1 pick in 2020 NBA 2K League Draft

Wizards District Gaming takes JBM with No.1 pick in 2020 NBA 2K League Draft

Sixty eight gamers' lives changed on Saturday night. 

One of those very lucky individuals was Jack Mascone, who was selected by Wizards District Gaming with the No.1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA 2K League Draft. 

Wizards’ managing partner Ted Leonsis had a special message for the point guard from New York, who joins the Monumental Sports & Entertainment family. 

“On behalf of the Wizards, Mystics and Go-Go we’d like to welcome JBM to the Monumental basketball family. Congratulations on your hard work paying off. We’re excited to have you run the District with us,” Leonsis said.

Wizards District Gaming also drafted small forward Justin Howell in the second round, No. 30 overall, small forward Antonio Newman, No. 37, and utility Brandon Richardson at No. 51 in the third round. 


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Rui Hachimura's learning curve can be seen on offense late in games

Rui Hachimura's learning curve can be seen on offense late in games

WASHINGTON -- Wizards forward Rui Hachimura has translated so smoothly to the NBA level that it is easy to forget he is still just a rookie with only 31 games under his belt. For a reminder of his inexperience, just look at the fourth quarter.

Hachimura tends to start games hot on the offensive end, like he did on Friday in the Wizards' loss to the Cavaliers when he had eight points by the end of the first quarter. But he scored only nine points after that and went scoreless through seven minutes in the fourth.

That has been a consistent theme for him this season. He averages 4.8 points in the first quarter shooting 48.4 percent from the field, 4.0 points in the second shooting 57 percent and then 4.3 points on 47.9 percent in the third. In the fourth quarter those numbers plummet to 1.9 points on average and 33.3 percent shooting.

Basically, Hachimura often comes out on fire but then slows down considerably once opponents make midgame changes. Against the Cavs, Hachimura said it was because they disrupted passing lanes.

"They are an NBA team. They just adjusted. They didn't want me to catch the ball. They didn't let me just catch the ball. I think that's why," he said.

The Wizards have seen teams switch defensive match-ups midgame to counter Hachimura. Sometimes taking away his midrange jumper will be prioritized. The Cavs seemed to find success playing Hachimura more physically in the second half, bumping him away from his comfort zones.

Over time, Hachimura can improve his ability to sustain scoring throughout games simply by becoming more versatile. The more consistent he becomes at making three-point shots and creating off the dribble, the more difficult it will be for teams to stop him. As long as he keeps improving, he will reach a point where he can stay ahead of the defense with a multitude of counters.

Developing a more reliable outside game and more dribble combinations will take some time. For now, Hachimura believes the key to him keeping up his scoring pace involves working with his teammates, particularly star shooting guard Bradley Beal.

"I just gotta connect more with Brad. Brad is the one everybody is trying to guard. Screens and pick-and-rolls with him, that kind of stuff will help me," Hachimura said.

Hachimura's game against the Cavaliers reflected how the team played overall. After scoring 41 points in the first quarter, they managed only 42 in the second half. They blew a 16-point lead and lost, 113-108.

So, he wasn't alone. And those rooting for Hachimura to round out his game should feel good about his odds. He has a relentless work ethic and is often staying after practice to go over film with player development coach Dave Adkins.

Hachimura is perceptive and driven to improve. In order to take the next step as a scorer, he will have to get better at closing games.

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