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Terrible decision-making on final play almost costs Wizards

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Terrible decision-making on final play almost costs Wizards

NEW YORK -- Drew Gooden walked off the floor in absolute disgust, shaking his head as nary a player for the Wizards could celebrate how they won Tuesday's game at Madison Square Garden. 

Gooden, who didn't play in the second half, knew what he saw was unacceptable if the Wizards have any hope of turning their season around. Langston Galloway hit a big three-point shot to pull the Knicks 107-106 of the Wizards with 8.5 seconds left, which should've scared them enough to be at attentive on the final play. But Galloway was able to get a clean look from 25 feet as the buzzer sounded.

Fortunately for the Wizards (23-27), he missed or it would've forced overtime instead of a 111-108 victory.

Aside from blowing a 16-point lead, like they squandered a 19-point lead over the weekend in a loss at the Charlotte Hornets, the Wizards simply lack the attention to detail to close games.

"That's all on us. We got to at some point stand up and understand how to close games," said coach Randy Wittman, who instructed his team to foul to prevent the three-point heave from Galloway. "We did just about everything you could do wrong coming down the stretch instead of just playing solid. Going for steals, leaving open threes when that's all they need. ... It was a little ugly down the stretch."

After trailing 92-91 on a three-pointer by Galloway with 7:18 left in the game, the Wizards went on a 15-4 run highlighted by threes from Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and three consecutive jump shots from John Wall, including a three. 

Then they came unraveled. Beal missed 3 of 4 foul shots in the final 39 seconds. After Wall hit his fourth consecutive free throws in the last seven seconds to keep the Wizards ahead by three -- neither team had any timeouts left -- the Knicks inbounded with 4.3 seconds left. Porter was supposed to foul Jose Calderon immediately on the inbound to prevent the three by Galloway at the end that failed. Wall tried to cover for him but failed to foul Calderon in time, who threw the ball ahead to Galloway. Jared Dudley made an attempt to run across the court when he saw the breakdown to challenge the shot but it was essentially a wide-open look from one of New York's better shooters.

It could've ruined an otherwise masterful performance by Wall (28 points, 17 assists, one turnover) and it remains head-scratching why such a disciplined team defensively has become so skittish and unreliable in clutch situations. 

"Bad communication," Beal said in explaining the lapses. "I fell asleep a few times. We just weren't locked in at the end of the game. I wouldn't say our aggressiveness necessarily stopped. They made a lot of tough shots."

Wall placed the blame on himself and Porter. But Wall also had to recognize out of all shooters to leave wide open in that situation, it wasn't Galloway. 

"It was Otto for not knowing the foul and also me for leaving the man wide open," Wall said. "We went for steals sometimes when we shouldn't have. At times we were trying to go give up threes  but twos, but we were giving up twos in like two seconds so it wasn't enough time running off the clock."

There even was an inbound play in the final seconds as Dudley tried to make an inbounds play. His four teammates hovered near the baseline, giving him no angles or spacing to make any sort of pass. No one broke down court. He had to use the Wizards' last timeout, but Wittman still was able to instruct Porter from the sideline to foul on the final play. 

Dudley scored all of his 14 points in the first half. He could only shake his head at how this game could've been a disaster. 

"We didn't deserve to win this game," he said. "This game symbolizes us. Inconsistent. Up and down. Great first half. Second half, terrible third we've (had) the whole year, fourth quarter pick it back up in the last four or five minutes. I would've hated to be in Vegas watching those bets on the spread tonight."

MORE WIZARDS: FIVE TAKEAWAYS FROM THE WIZARDS WIN AT MSG

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Markieff Morris

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Markieff Morris

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Markieff Morris' season...

Player: Markieff Morris

Position: Power forward

Age: 28

2017-18 salary: $8 million

2017-18 stats: 73 G, 27.0 mpg, 11.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.9 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.5 bpg, 48.0 FG%, 36.7 3P%, 82.0 FT%, 53.6 eFG%, 116 ORtg, 112 DRtg

Best game: 12/1 vs. Pistons - 23 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, zero turnovers, 10-for-16 FG, 2-for-3 3PT

Season review: It took quite a while for Markieff Morris to get healthy in the 2017-18 season. He was sidelined to begin last offseason with the ankle injury he suffered against the Celtics in the playoffs, then in September had surgery on both his abdomen and groin. The sports hernia surgery was known, while the groin procedure was revealed once the season was over.

Morris only missed nine games in the entire season, but took time to find his rhythm early. He averaged just 9.0 points and 4.4 rebounds in 14 games in the month of November. He picked it up after that, though he never quite reached the level we saw from him in 2016-17 in terms of volume production.

Morris played less minutes, took less shots, scored fewer points and grabbed less rebounds than the season before. On the other hand, he was more efficient than ever. Morris shot 48 percent from the field, his best since 2013-14, and posted career-highs in three-point percentage (36.7) and effective field-goal percentage (53.6). 

The Wizards could use more scoring from Morris moving forward, especially at times when one of their primary options is injured, as was the case in 2017-18 when John Wall missed 41 games. An active and engaged Morris changes everything for the Wizards. 

When Morris scored 15 points or more this season, the Wizards went 15-8. The season before, they went 22-9 when he got to the 15-point mark. 

It's a bit difficult to project Morris' role for the 2018-19 season at this point, given the fact he's entering a contract year and the most logical area for the Wizards to make significant changes (if they choose to) is in their frontcourt. Also, as Morris discussed in his exit interview, he knows more time at center in small-ball sets could be in his future.

Regardless of what happens with the team, it's a huge summer for Morris individually. If he sets himself up well for a big year in 2018-19, he could earn a nice payday in what might be his last long-term contract given his age.

Potential to improve: Rebounding, screens, scoring

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

Marcin Gortat, C

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Marcin Gortat

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Marcin Gortat

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Marcin Gortat's season...

Player: Marcin Gortat

Position: Center

Age: 34

2017-18 salary: $12.8 million

2017-18 stats: 82 G, 25.3 mpg, 8.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.8 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.7 bpg, 51.8 FG%, 67.5 FT%, 51.8 eFG%, 112 ORtg, 107 DRtg

Best game: 10/18 vs. Sixers - 16 points, 17 rebounds, 3 blocks, assist, 7-for-12 FG

Season review: Marcin Gortat is self-aware enough to know that what happened to him in 2017-18 was inevitable in many ways. He even publicly called it before the season.

He was one year older, with Ian Mahinmi healthy and in the rotation, and with the NBA continuing to move towards small-ball and big men who can play on the perimeter. As a result, Gortat saw his role in the Wizards rotation pared down noticeably.

Though he still started all 82 games, his minutes went down from 31.2 per game the year before the 25.3. Kelly Oubre, Jr., who played the majority of the season coming off the bench, logged more minutes than Gortat, though he was a starter.

Gortat's minutes were his fewest since the 2009-10 season, when he was a 25-year-old bench player for the Orlando Magic. His numbers this season followed suit. Gortat's points and rebounds per game were both the lowest since that 2009-10 campaign.

Gortat averaged a career-best 10.4 rebounds per game in 2016-17, but the minutes had a direct effect on his volume of boards. He pulled in 2.4 less per game this season despite his rebound percentage (17.0) being close to his career average (17.5). That career average, by the way, is 30th-best all-time an eighth among active players.

Not getting the same opportunities he had in years past, plus public misunderstandings with teammates, combined to make for a frustrating year for Gortat. He said on the Wizards Tipoff podcast midseason it was the worst year of his career. Gortat, though, did continue to make an impact setting screens for the Wizards and he rallied to finish relatively strong.

He had several solid outings in the playoffs, including his 16 points in Game 3 and his 12 rebounds in Game 5. The question is whether that is the last time we will see Gortat in a Wizards uniform.

Washington has played with the idea of trading Gortat for a while now. He popped up in rumors around the trade deadline in February, but remained on the roster. Now he has an expiring contract working in his favor, making it a bit more likely he gets dealt.

Gortat knows his future in Washington is uncertain, though he said following the season he would like to stay. It would not be surprising to him or anyone if he were traded this summer. If not, he's got one year left with the Wizards and could very well have his role decreased even more.

Potential to improve: Rim protection, midrange shooting, free throw percentage

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

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