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Wizards break down in 119-117 loss to Celtics: Five takeaways


Wizards break down in 119-117 loss to Celtics: Five takeaways

The Wizards had a chance to officially turn the corner with Saturday's game against the Boston Celtics, but they faltered late in a game they controlled most of the way and lost to them for the third time this season and failed to get over .500.

John Wall (season-high 36 points, 13 assists, seven rebounds seven steals) led all scorers as all of Washington's starters reached double-figures. Marcin Gortat (18 points, 11 rebounds), Jared Dudley (15 points, seven rebounds), Garrett Temple (12 points), Kelly Oubre (10 points, six rebounds) and Gary Neal (10 points).

In two meetings in Boston in November, the Celtics blitzed them 118-98 and 111-78. On Saturday, the Wizards (19-20) blew out the Indiana Pacers 118-104 after they'd been embarrassed at home by them in November but came up short in this one after they tied the score at 117 on a pair of foul shots from Temple.

Isaiah Thomas, who made two foul shots with 21 seconds left, led the Celtics (22-19) with 32 points but Jae Crowder (22 points) had the game-winner on a layup on an inbounds play.

Wall was able to get up the court and have a layup but it trickled off the rim and Nene's putback dunk to force overtime was too late.

  • It's amazing how ball security makes everything better, or the lack of it causes the wheels to fall off. When the Wizards lost in Boston on Nov. 6, they had 24 turnovers that led to 24 points and were outrebounded by the smaller team 53-45. In a Nov. 27 loss, the Wizards had 22 turnovers that produced 17 points and were outrebounded again 58-46 (19 offensive). They only had nine through three quarters Saturday but opened the fourth with five which allowed Boston to get back in it.

  • At 3:31 of the first quarter, the Wizards went with Nene along with four guards -- Wall, Temple, Neal and Ramon Sessions. It produced as the Wizards extended the lead to 11. They're better off going smaller against the Celtics anyway because they force so many switches on bigs who can shoot from the arc. Not having Kris Humphries (knee) doesn't hurt against teams that go small like this. Not having Otto Porter (hip) hurts far more.

  • Bradley Beal didn't play because this was the second game of a back-to-back. He has played 23 and 22 minutes coming off the bench since returning from a stress reaction in his lower right leg and this has been the plan all along. Nothing is wrong with his leg but given that he has had the same injury four consecutive seasons they're taking every precaution. 

  •  Without Beal, Wall played a season-high 44 minutes. Going into the All-Star break, this is where the Wizards have to be careful so he doesn't develop any other ailments that could hinder their best player. Expect him to get a lot of practice time off while they deal with even more injuries to other players as they only had 10 active. Drew Gooden (left calf) had to sit this one out, too.

  • If there's a better coach at drawing up lays after timeouts than Brad Stevens, who is it? He's a master at it. Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley got clean looks during crucial plays in the fourth quarter to give the Celtics breathing room. With the score 111-110, the Celtics were able to get Bradley opne for a three that looked like the dagger. After the Wizards tied it, the layup by Crowder came on an ATO as well, the ball lobbed over the top of Oubre who was fronting the post. The were expecting the play to go through Thomas. Crowder was the last option which is why there wasn't help on the backside for Oubre.

MORE WIZARDS: Morning tip: When Nene isn't hurt, he's special

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Capital City Go-Go now allow Wizards make final roster cut to 14 and leave the 15th spot open

Capital City Go-Go now allow Wizards make final roster cut to 14 and leave the 15th spot open

On Saturday, two days before the deadline to finalize Opening Day rosters, the Washington Wizards waived four players - LaVoy Allen, Chris Chiozza, Chasson Randle and Tiwian Kendley - and in doing so trimmed their roster down to 14 players. That's one fewer than the NBA roster maximum of 15 players, meaning they opted to leave one of their roster spots vacant.

This was not a big surprise, but it's worth going through the reasons why they chose to do so for those who may be wondering. 

For one, the Wizards have a lot of money committed to their roster and could use some savings. They are fourth in the NBA this season with a total cap of $134.9 million. That is $11.1 million more than the salary cap limit, which means they are due to pay $19.1 million in luxury tax next year, according to Spotrac.

The Wizards also don't absolutely need that 15th player. They have two two-way players in Devin Robinson and Jordan McRae who collectively give them depth at a wide variety of positions. 

Under two-way contracts, they can be activated for up to 45 days this season before the Wizards have to decide on a fully guaranteed NBA deal. The NBA adjusted the rules this season to exclude travel days from that 45-day clock. The NBA days limit for Robinson and McRae also does not begin until G-League training camps begin on Oct. 22.

Speaking of the G-League, the Wizards have their own team now. The Capital City Go-Go will begin their inaugural season in November and that will give the organization the deepest stable of prospects (and roster spots) is has ever had. They now have much more room than ever to stash young players that would otherwise be considered for the final spot.

Even if the Wizards didn't have that option, as they did not last year, it wouldn't necessarily convince them to fill the last roster spot. Last season, they went without a 15th player for much of the year and for extended stretches only carried 13, the league minimum. They even rolled with 12 after the NBA trade deadline, as the league allows two weeks for teams to reach the minimum.

That recent history alone was enough to suggest they wouldn't fill the 15th spot. And, truthfully, that 15th spot rarely came into play as an actual need. This isn't the NFL where injuries make every roster spot incredibly valuable, or MLB where extra innings can sometimes make it feel like their rosters aren't deep enough.

Perhaps the Wizards will fill the 15th spot at some point this season. They can do so in a variety of ways, including if they trade one player for two. Just don't count on it, for all the reasons listed above.


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Richard Jefferson announces retirement from basketball after 17 NBA seasons

USA Today Sports

Richard Jefferson announces retirement from basketball after 17 NBA seasons

After a career that spanned 17 NBA seasons while playing for eight different teams, Richard Jefferson officially announced his retirement from basketball on Saturday via Instagram.

Jefferson spent the first seven years of his career with the Nets (then of New Jersey) before moving on to the Spurs, Bucks, Warriors, Jazz, Mavericks, Cavaliers and finally Nuggets. The Arizona alum was with Cleveland when the Cavs won the NBA title in 2015-16.

For his career, Jefferson averaged 12.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. He played particularly well against the Wizards, scoring an average of 14.1 points in 43 total games versus Washington.