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Without Wall and Nene, Wizards need someone in clutch


Without Wall and Nene, Wizards need someone in clutch

If it is true that a coach learns the most about his team in the final minutes of a close game, Wizards coach Randy Wittman discovered Saturday night just how much he misses John Wall and Nene.

“I’m searching to find a go-to guy in that situation,” Wittman said after Saturday night’s 89-86 loss to the Boston Celtics, “and we just don’t have that right now.”

Trailing by one point with 2:35 to play, the Wizards had three chances to win the game.

On the first, Cartier Martin had a pass stolen by Paul Pierce

On the second, Kevin Seraphin turned the ball over.

And on the third, Martell Webster hoisted an off-balance 3-pointer that clanged off the rim.

“Listen, a lot of these guys haven’t been put in a position to be in the game at the last second,” Wittman said. “It’s a process of learning.”

His players aren’t buying it, saying they all need to become go-to guys in the absence of their two biggest stars.

“Everybody is that go-to guy,” Webster said. “Jannero [Pargo] came in and made three big buckets. JC [Jordan Crawford] played great. Kevin [Seraphin] played his heart out. I think everybody is capable of knocking down those shots in crunch time.”

Webster got that call Saturday night. The Wizards had possession with 4.5 seconds remaining on the clock and Webster found himself all alone in the far corner. Webster saw an open shot. Wittman thought he had a better option.

“No, that’s not what we wanted,” Wittman said of Webster’s off-balance attempt. “Four-point-five seconds is eternity at the end of the game. You can put the ball on the floor and basically get full court in 4.5 seconds. Sometimes you think you need to get it off fast or we’re not going to get it off and [Kevin] Garnett made a good contest on it.”

A little too much contest in the opinion of Webster.

“I thought I had a good look,” Webster said. “There was a little bit of contact, but that’s a shot I’m very capable of making. I wish I could relive it to tell you the truth, just to be a little stronger and a little more aggressive

“I thought there was some contact [from Garnett], honestly. But I guess there wasn’t. If I had the chance to do that again I think there’d be a different outcome.”

So after two games the Wizards are off to an 0-2 start. But they were far more competitive in Saturday’s loss to the Celtics than they were in Thursday night’s loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

All they needed was a go-to guy when they needed it most.

“This is an opportunity for every one of us,” Pargo said. “It comes down to who wants it. If you want to be the guy then step up and prove it.”

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Former Terp Kevin Huerter makes NBA All-Rookie Second Team

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Former Terp Kevin Huerter makes NBA All-Rookie Second Team

With Dallas' Luka Doncic and Atlanta's Trae Young leading the way, the top five NBA draft picks from 2018 have been selected as the top five NBA rookies this season.

Doncic and Young were unanimous first-team selections for the NBA All-Rookie team, which was announced Tuesday. Phoenix's Deandre Ayton, Memphis' Jaren Jackson and Sacramento's Marvin Bagley III are also on the first team, which was chosen by 100 voters who cover the league.

Ayton, Bagley, Doncic, Jackson and Young were the first five picks in the last year's draft.

This marks the first time since the 1984 draft that the first five picks ended up as first-team all-rookie -- the selections that year being Hakeem Olajuwon, Sam Bowie, Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins, Charles Barkley. That was the entirety of the rookie team that season; the NBA didn't start doing first- and second-team selections until 1988-89.

The Hawks had two all-rookie selections this season, with Kevin Huerter on the second team to join Young. Also on the second team were a pair of Los Angeles Clippers, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Landry Shamet, along with Cleveland's Collin Sexton and New York's Mitchell Robinson.

Rookie of the year will be announced at the NBA Awards show in Los Angeles on June 24. Doncic, Young and Ayton are the finalists.

Doncic and Young join other unanimous first-team all-rookie picks over the last decade: Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell (2018), Malcolm Brogdon and Dario Saric (2017), Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis (2016), Andrew Wiggins (2015), Michael Carter-Williams (2014), Damian Lillard (2013), Kyrie Irving (2012), Blake Griffin (2011) and Tyreke Evans, Brandon Jennings and Stephen Curry (2010).

Others receiving votes: Phoenix's Mikal Bridges, New York's Kevin Knox and Allonzo Trier, Minnesota's Josh Okogie, Dallas' Jalen Brunson, Brooklyn's Rodions Kurucs, Chicago's Wendell Carter Jr., Charlotte's Mile Bridges, Detroit's Bruce Brown, Sacramento's Harry Giles III, Orlando's Mo Bamba and Indiana's Aaron Holiday.


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Tim Connelly explains his interview with Wizards, decision to stay with Nuggets

Tim Connelly explains his interview with Wizards, decision to stay with Nuggets

Tim Connelly sat down with Wizards owner Ted Leonsis about the head front-office opening on Friday.

On Monday, NBC Sports Washington confirmed that he decided to stick with his role as president of basketball operations for the Denver Nuggets

A day later, he spoke to the media at a press conference and answered questions about his meeting with Washington.

Clear in Connelly's comments were his respect for Leonsis, but commitment to continuity in Denver. 

"I had a really nice conversation with Mr. Leonsis and his staff. He's a fantastic owner, I think a real visionary. I was really impressed by who he was and his thoughts for the team. That team's going to be special quickly under his leadership. We just had a conversation and not much more than that."

As for the reason for the discussion with Leonsis, Connelly said it came down to his love for the franchise. 

"I spent 14 years there. Certainly it's where I'm from, it's where my wife's from, so I just wanted to have the conversation because I care about the organization," he said.

"I'd never had an audience with [Leonsis], so to have that conversation and exchange of ideas, you know, it's flattering." 

Ultimately, however, the Baltimore native emphasized that Washington couldn't entice him away from the franchise he'd spent the last six years building. 

"Loyalty and patience is such a rarity in professional sports and that's here in spades. Those things matter to me," he said. "I had a hard time envisioning myself elsewhere."

With Connelly out of the picture, the list of candidates for the Wizards front-office opening is narrowing. Currently, Tommy Sheppard, Danny Ferry and Troy Weaver remain in the conversation.