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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' first pre-draft workout to feature Kentucky's Hamidou Diallo of Kentucky, UMBC's upset hero


Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Kentucky's Hamidou Diallo of Kentucky, UMBC's upset hero

The Washington Wizards will hold their first pre-draft workout on Tuesday at Capital One Arena and the group of six players features some familiar names. 

Included in the mix is guard Jairus Lyles, who starred for the Unversity of Maryland-Baltimore County and helped lead them as a 16-seed over top-ranked Virginia in the NCAA Tournament. It was the first 16-over-a-1 upset in the tournament's history.

Here are the six players with some notes on each one...

Chris Chiozza, guard, Florida (6-0, 175)

Chiozza played four years at Florida and finished as the school's all-time assists leader. He averaged 11.1 points, 6.1 assists and 1.9 steals per game as a senior.

Hamidou Diallo, guard, Kentucky (6-5, 198)

Diallo redshirted in 2016-17 and played one season for the Wildcats. He averaged 10.0 points and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 45.8 percent from the field. Diallo measured 6-foot-6 with shoes at the combine and boasts a 7-foot wingspan.

Tiwian Kendley, guard, Morgan State (6-5, 190)

Kendly was a big-time scorer at Morgan St., averaging 21.0 points as a redshirt junior and 26.1 points as a senior. He took a lot of shots, however, averaging 18.2 field goal attempts on 45.3 percent from the field this past season. Kendley starred at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Maryland before joining the college ranks, first at Lamar Community College.

Jairus Lyles, guard, UMBC (6-2, 175)

Lyles was the leading scorer for the Retrievers this past season as they became the biggest underdog Cinderella in NCAA history, defeating the No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. He averaged 20.2 points and shot 39.0 percent from three on 6.1 attempts. Lyles began his college career at VCU and played high school ball at nearby DeMatha.

Doral Moore, center, Wake Forest (7-1, 280)

A three-year player at Wake Forest, Moore had a breakout season as a junior with averages of 11.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. Moore played with Sixers star Ben Simmons in high school.

Ray Spalding, forward, Louisville (6-10, 215)

Spalding played three years at Louisville and averaged 12.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.5 steals per game as a junior. He posted a 7-5 wingspan at the NBA Combine. Spalding played with Jazz star Donovan Mitchell in college. 

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Mike Scott

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Mike Scott

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

Player: Mike Scott

Position: Power forward

Age: 29

2017-18 salary: $1.7 million

2017-18 stats: 76 G, 18.5 mpg, 8.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.1 bpg, 52.7 FG%, 40.5 3P%, 65.8 FT%, 59.0 eFG%, 109 ORtg, 111 DRtg

Best game: 12/9 at Clippers - 22 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 9-for-11 FG, 3-for-4 3PT, 28 minutes

Season review: The 2017-18 Wizards season was full of unpredictability and the most positive surprise had to be the comeback of Mike Scott.

The Wizards signed Scott to a veteran minimum contract last offseason after a workout at Capital One Arena. This came just months after he had felony drug charges dropped in the state of Georgia, he lost 25 pounds and rehabbed a leg injury. That spring he had wondered, and justifiably, if his NBA career was over.

Scott overcame all of those odds to not only return to the NBA, but re-establish himself as a productive player off the bench. No one was more consistent start-to-finish in the Wizards' second unit than Scott was.

Scott earned a significant role in head coach Scott Brooks' rotation out of the preseason and stayed there. He reached double-figures in 31 of his 76 games, second only to Kelly Oubre, Jr. on the Wizards. 

Scott's primary value was on offense. He scored inside and out and got his points with remarkable efficiency. He led the Wizards and was tied for 11th in the NBA in effective field-goal percentage. He was second on Washington in field goal percentage and third in three-point percentage. 

Scott closed the season strong, reaching double-figures in scoring in seven of the last nine regular season games. He carried that over into the playoffs with 46 points through their first three games against the Raptors. 

Now comes the question of how much money Scott earned himself with his comeback year and whether the Wizards can afford keeping him. Since they are in the luxury tax, they will have little money to spend this summer. 

The way to keep Scott would be to use the remainder of their taxpayer mid-level exception, but that figures to be only about $1.9 million, not much more than what Scott made in 2017-18. Given how well he played this season, it would not be surprising if he earns much more than that.

Potential to improve: Free throw shooting, forcing turnovers, ability to guard bigs

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

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