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What has led to Wizards' recent turnaround in play?

What has led to Wizards' recent turnaround in play?

The light hasn't just come on for the Wizards. They've gradually played better and are they're starting to see their way out of being under .500 all season, and that could happen before the calendar year ends.

They erased a 13-point deficit to beat the Chicago Bulls on their home floor Wednesday and sit at 13-15 with a chance to have a winning record on this three-game road trip.

They play at the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday, a team they beat 110-105 earlier this month.

So why the about-face after they struggled mightily to defend the three-point line, rebound and finish of games that were close late?

They've won six of their last eight games: "We got stops. We got to the free-throw line. We were being aggressive," said John Wall, who led the Wizards with 23 points, nine assists, six rebounds and three steals.

"Our second unit did a great job of giving us a six-point lead. Me and Brad (Beal) came back and we just closed it out from there."


-- Beal hasn't just been an All-Star caliber player on the offensive end. He has played All-Star level defense, too. Dwyane Wade was held to four points in the second half as Beal bodied up the veteran in the mid-post and forced him beyond his shooting range. Wade shot 2-for-9 in the second half. Beal's defense during this streak has been exceptional, but it also preceeded it. Wall, who wasn't nearly as good to begin the season, has caught up now that he's in better shape since his knee surgeries May 5. 

-- Marcin Gortat is 44 of 70 from the field for 62.8%. Those aren't empty stats. He's not only taking what defenses are giving him -- and a lot of them during this stretch are giving up the roll man to take away the three-point shot from Beal or Wall's dribble penetration. The pocket passes are there and Gortat is finishing them to make them pay.He attempted just four, eight and five shots in the first three games of this stretch and has since gotten 11, 10, eight, 15 and nine on the back end.

-- Coach Scott Brooks has found a bench rotation that works. He had to go deeper than expected vs. Chicago when Otto Porter left after halftime with back spasms and resort to Sheldon McClellan. Even if Kelly Oubre isn't scoring, his defense is valuable and he has learned how to stay on the court. Trey Burke is playing to his true self which is to look for his shot and score, similar to Ramon Sessions when he was here. It's what he does best. Burke isn't a pure point guard but when he has a mismatch he's not settling for fallaway contested jumpers. He's attacking off the dribble, breaking down defenses and getting to the rim. Jason Smith isn't hesitating to shoot the mid-range jumper from the elbow. Defenses are giving him that shot and he's staying in his lane and just taking it. 

--Beal and Wall are doing two things well together: Getting to the foul line and creating for others.Wall has attempted 7.8 free throws during this stretch and averaging 9.3 assists. Beal is attempting the exact number of foul shots as Wall, 7.8 per game (63 total) and 4.5 assists. That's helping them get easy points, distribute the wealth and put opponents in foul trouble. 

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Wizards waive three, sign 2017 first-rounder Anzejs Pasecniks

Wizards waive three, sign 2017 first-rounder Anzejs Pasecniks

As the NBA regular season approaches, the Washington Wizards seek to finalize their roster.

The Wizards announced on Wednesday that they have waived Phil Booth, Justin Anderson and Jemerrio Jones. The team also signed 2017 first-rounder Anzejs Pasecniks and small forward Jalen Jones, the team announced.

Pasecniks and Jones were signed to Exhibit 10 contracts, meaning that if they are waived, they will have the opportunity to play for the Go-Go, the Wizards' G-League affiliate. Booth was on an Exhibit 10 deal, so he will report to the Go-Go after being waived.

Pasecniks, a 7-foot center from Latvia, was the 25th overall selection from the 2017 draft. The Orlando Magic drafted him and moved him to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for draft picks. The 76ers renounced his rights in June.

Pasecniks played on the Wizards summer league team, averaging 4.0 points and 5.3 rebounds. Jalen Jones has averaged 4.8 points and 2.3 rebounds while shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc in 32 games over two seasons with three teams.


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John Wall embracing role as assistant coach during injury rehab

John Wall embracing role as assistant coach during injury rehab

WASHINGTON -- John Wall has already made enough money during his basketball career to last a lifetime and his new supermax contract worth $170 million is just kicking in. When he is done playing in the NBA, he doesn't have to do anything at all if he doesn't want to.

But there is at least a small part of Wall that believes coaching could be in his future. He loves the game enough to not rule out the possibility.

This year will give him a taste of what being a coach is all about. While he rehabs his ruptured left Achilles, he will serve as an unofficial assistant to head coach Scott Brooks. Wall will be asked to break down film with players, advise on plays to run and help the team's young point guards in practice.

Wall isn't sure as of today whether he wants to coach when his playing days are over. But he may have an answer in just a few months.

"I think this year will tell me whether I can be a coach or not," Wall told NBC Sports Washington on the Wizards Talk podcast. 

"I think you have to have a lot of patience and you've gotta know how to interact with every player. Every player's attitudes and character and mood swings are totally different. I learned from when a coach tried to coach me when I was young and I wasn't the guy to coach."

Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard envisions Wall as an important part of the locker room, even when he isn't playing. Part of his role may include some tough conversations with players. As Sheppard says, Wall may be able to deliver some messages that resonate more from a peer than if they came from a coach. 

Wall knows he can help in that regard. He has long been a vocal presence for the Wizards and had to assume the role as a team leader at an early age. After coming in as the No. 1 overall pick, he was a franchise player from the time he was 19 years old.

Wall's personality may also lend itself to those duties. He is very honest, whether it be with teammates or the media. 

"I like to speak my mind," he said. "It's like my momma always told me, 'I'd rather you speak your mind and say what you want to say, but say it in a respectful manner and a respectful way.'"

Wall, in fact, has a detailed philosophy on being honest. He doesn't like to lie whether it's in a media setting, to teammates or in everyday life.

It's not quite a Jim Carrey in 'Liar, Liar' deal, but Wall sees no point in beating around the bush. If he has something to say to a teammate or the media, he will say it.

"I don't know how to not give you the truth," he said. "What I've learned is that when you lie, you've gotta remember that lie exactly the way you said it for the next 12 people you tell it to. So, why make it that tough?"

Wall is set to miss at least the first few months of the Wizards' 2019-20 season and he could be sidelined the entire year. He said he hopes to have a similar impact that Kristi Tolliver did with the Mystics this past season where she remained active as a veteran leader in the locker room despite not being able to help the team on the floor for weeks due to a knee injury.

Missing so much time due to injury is not the ideal situation for Wall, but he plans to make the most of it.

"It will make my game a lot smarter and better for when I come back," he said.