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Wizards' domination of Magic complete 105-99: Five takeaways


Wizards' domination of Magic complete 105-99: Five takeaways

The only thing that has gone right for the Wizards this season is their matchup with the Orlando Magic, which they've swept 4-0 after Saturday's 105-99 victory at Amway Center in which six players scored in double figures.

The Wizards (16-19) ended a three-game losing streak as John Wall led with game-highs of 24 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and four steals. Gary Neal, Otto Porter and Jared Dudley each scored 16 points, Marcin Gortat posted his 17th double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds) and Garrett Temple had 11 points. 

After Wall's pull-up jumper gave the Wizards a 10-9 lead early in the first quarter, they never trailed again and stretched to as many as 17.

Orlando (20-18) also had six players score in double figures, led by Nic Vucevic (23 points, nine rebounds) and Victor Oladipo (17 points).

The Wizards' franchise longest win streak vs. an opponent is 13, against the Cleveland Cavaliers from 1972-74, Detroit Pistons from 1968-70 and Utah Jazz from 1977-81. They've won 12 in a row vs. the Magic to match their streak vs. the San Diego Rockets from 1969-71.

  • The formula for winning until Bradley Beal's return is simple: Wall has to have a strong game and the Wizards have to make open shots. Wall shot 10 of 17 (59%) and the Wizards made 13 of 23 three-pointers (56.5%), one short of tying a season-high for makes. 

  • Vucevic was hit with a flagrant 1 foul on Gortat on his clear drive to the basket as he struck him in the face. Temple immediately went over to confront him and had to be pushed away. The toughness and energy that he shows on a nightly basis has to be contagious (and it isn't). Coach Randy Wittman pointed this out as an example of the fight that the Wizards lacked on Friday when Porter was pummeled to the floor twice by the Toronto Raptors' Patrick Patterson and Luis Scola and they met no resistance. And for that matter, when Wall broke his hand and wrist in last season's playoffs on a hard foul from Jeff Teague, the Wizards simply let it go. It shouldn't be on Temple, with his slight 6-6 frame, to do the dirty work but this is yet another example of how he quietly leads with his effort and hustle. Plus, Temple's ball pressure had a lot to do with Oladipo's six turnovers. Porter had a breakaway in the first quarter created by Temple's pressure on Oladipo who made a bad pass.

  • Neal was 1 of 9 in Friday's loss to the Toronto Raptors, but his number was called for players often early in the fourth quarter when he made three consecutive baskets to keep the lead at 14. When Neal is on, he's a great complement to the offense. When he's not, like Friday, they've got to find other answers. Rookie Kelly Oubre still was able to get on the court and even though didn't take a shot in 15 minutes his defense on Tobias Harris and Evan Fournier was as good as it gets.

  • In his second game back, Drew Gooden played 15 minutes to score five points on 2 of 5 shooting and he played center which allowed Porter to play power forward where he can beat his man off the dribble. Both of Gooden's buckets, one a three-pointer, came consecutively midway through the second quarter when the Wizards began pulling away. Gooden's block of Oladipo on a drive sparked a fast break that resulted in a three-pointer for Porter and a 40-28 lead. Gooden's form looks good and when his legs are fully back it'll give coach Randy Wittman another option at the stretch four position besides Dudley or a chance to use him as a spread five which opens the floor even more.

  • Gortat's command in the middle continues. Aside from his 17th double-double, he's battling on the boards and for loose balls and one of his two offensive rebounds led to a three-point basket. Vucevic faces up a lot and is shooting from outside more. While fighting Vucevic for position in the fourth, he was clipped with an elbow and had to be pulled from the game because of bleeding.

MORE WIZARDS: Bradley Beal is close to returning to Wizards

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Austin Rivers getting cut by Suns may change perception of Trevor Ariza trade to Wizards

Austin Rivers getting cut by Suns may change perception of Trevor Ariza trade to Wizards

When the Suns traded Trevor Ariza for Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers, the thought by most was that Rivers, though not a perfect fit, would slide in at point guard to fill their biggest need. Instead, on the day the trade became official, Phoenix opted to waive Rivers and make him a free agent.

The Suns will pay about $8 million to let Rivers go, according to ESPN. He is now free to sign with any team except for the Wizards. That means he can return to the L.A. Clippers, where he played last season, if he wants.

Rivers, 26, has had a dramatic fall in a matter of months. In July, the Wizards sent starting center Marcin Gortat to the Clippers to acquire Rivers, who was coming off a career year. They believed he could solidify their backup shooting guard position and become an asset off the bench.

Rivers, though, proved a poor fit. He struggled with fewer shots and fewer minutes, averaging only 7.2 points while shooting 39.2 percent from the field and 31.1 percent from three. 

Rivers arrived in Washington with numbers that suggested he could score efficiently. But his stint with the Wizards showed he may need more volume to sustain a rhythm.

The Suns cutting Rivers makes the trade between the teams from a Suns perspective essentially an Ariza-for-Oubre swap. Phoenix wanted to clear some money and part with Ariza, who was wasting away on their last-place roster. Now they can see what they have in Oubre over the course of the rest of this season before he hits restricted free agency.

From the Wizards' side, this move shows how far Rivers' trade value had dropped, as one of the league's worst teams has cut him loose. That they were able to unload Rivers' salary while prying away Ariza may change slightly how the trade is viewed.


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With Trevor Ariza now in store, Wizards begin new phase against Hawks

With Trevor Ariza now in store, Wizards begin new phase against Hawks

The Wizards have undergone a midseason roster renovation over the past week-plus, culminating with a trade over the weekend to acquire Trevor Ariza. On Tuesday in Atlanta, a new phase will begin for the Wizards as they take on the Hawks at 7:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

Ariza has joined the team on the road in anticipation of his debut. With Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers now out the door, the team brought back guard Chasson Randle. Those two will help make up a new-look rotation for Washington, as they try to recover from a 12-18 start to this season.

Ariza will likely slide into the starting lineup, certainly in the short-term as Otto Porter Jr. recovers from a minor knee injury. The changes should also present opportunities for a few players who otherwise may not have played.

Sam Dekker, for one, will clearly be in the mix. He has averaged 13.5 minutes per game since coming over in a three-team trade last week. On Sunday against the Lakers, he put up a season-high 20 points. Even when Porter returns, he should have a role, as his path to play was carved by Oubre's departure.

The adjustments should, in theory, also clear the runway for rookie Troy Brown Jr. The 2018 first round pick has only appeared in 13 of the Wizards' 30 games this season because of a logjam at his position. 

But on Sunday, the first game since Oubre and Rivers were dealt, he played 15:21 against the Lakers. It wasn't in garbage time, either. He entered in the first half and made an instant impact with three steals and two rebounds.

Though Tomas Satoransky has played an important role this season as a backup guard and temporary starter, his standing was made even more secure when the Wizards traded Rivers. They have Randle and two-way player Jordan McRae, but Satoransky is now their primary backup guard. Barring a trade or another signing, they have no choice but to rely heavily on him to spell John Wall and Bradley Beal.

Speaking of Wall and Beal, they will bear watching despite nothing changing in their roles with the Wizards. They, along with Markieff Morris and Porter, have been the core of this team throughout the tumultuous last two years. The Wizards brought in Ariza to help compensate for their shortcomings in defending the perimeter, rebounding and - this year, at least - three-point shooting. 

If Ariza's arrival has a domino effect on teammates, if it lights a spark and brings the best out of the Wizards, those are the guys to watch. The Wizards want consistency from them, more of what they saw against the Lakers. And Ariza's commitment on the defensive end, the team hopes, can rub off on others.

The Wizards have already played one game since trading Oubre and Rivers, but now that Ariza is in store and ready to debut, the Wizards can officially hit the restart button. Will this trade prove the catalyst and help get them back on track? Tuesday night will give the first answers to that question.