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Wizards fall prey to killer Kobe, Lakers 108-104: Five takeaways

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Wizards fall prey to killer Kobe, Lakers 108-104: Five takeaways

Other than a fiery first quarter for Kobe Bryant, this was far from vintage. But in the fourth, the 20-year veteran turned back the clock as he buried a three-pointer and a pull-up jump shot with 31 seconds left to give the L.A. Lakers a lead they'd never lose again.

John Wall had a game-high 34 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds as he brought the Wizards from 19 down in what felt like a road game in front of the third sellout of 20,356 at Verizon Center.

Bryant had 31 for the Lakers (3-15), who were routed by the NBA's worst team, the Philadelphia 76ers, on Tuesday. Chants of "K-O-B-E" dominated as he shined late and only cheers for the Lakers could be heard. Byrant announced over the weekend that he's retiring after this season.

The Wizards (7-9) had 23 turnovers, including seven in the fourth, to soil their accomplishment Tuesday of upsetting the Cleveland Cavaliers on the road. Wall's errant pass to Beal with 31 seconds left sealed the outcome as they lost to one of the NBA's worst teams.

Marcin Gortat had 18 points and 10 rebounds but Otto Porter shot 2 of 8 and Beal 4 of 12.

  • Jared Dudley started for the third game in a row, but he wasn't a match for Julius Randle who feasted on the glass. Randle had 12 rebounds by halftime, five offense. By the second quarter, coach Randy Wittman went to Kris Humphries as he was more effective. He made his first three-pointer in four games. His seven points all came in the second quarter when he was a force inside getting extra chances, such as on Kelly Oubre's missed dunk on the final play for a putback. Wittman did the right thing by riding with Humphries who had nine points and four rebounds in 11 minutes.

  • Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. This game got away from the Wizards in the first quarter when they botched 14-9 lead. Wall had a bad pass out of bounds, lost the ball on the next play, then Beal had a lost ball turnover and Wall another one. All came in a 1:13 span and when it was over the Wizards were down 20-14. They had a total of seven turnovers in the first 12 minutes which is why they led by double-digits until making a run late in the second quarter to trim the deficit to 57-51. With the score tied at 87 late in the fourth, the Wizards traded turnovers with the Lakers twice that ended with Bryant's three at 5:56.

  • Gortat got rolling early again. He was not only connecting with Wall but beating Roy Hibbert down the floor to get in position for easy baskets. At one point he was 5 of 7, but the reason for the two misses weren't great defense. Gortat's tendency to fade away from contact resulted in making tough shots tougher. With his defender in the air he has to lean in, jump a count after his man leaves his feet and initiate the contact. Maybe Gortat's shot gets blocked anyway, but maybe he gets the whistle and two foul shots instead. His help defense on the perimeter forced D'Angelo Russell to turn it over when Washington made it's run. As well as he played for the third game in a row, he can be even better. 

  • Beal has had his looks but still couldn't get himself right with a favorable matchup against Jordan Clarkson. His shots aren't going down and he had five giveaways. Neither are the shots for Porter who had multiple open looks from three. Porter's fourth miss from deep was wide open and it rimmed out in the fourth. All four were uncontested.

  • Last year, the Wizards switched from Beal to Paul Pierce to put more size on Bryant to slow him down. He had 0 field goals in the second half after having 20 points in the first two quarters. Wittman went to Garrett Temple, who made him take launch contested shots and he made fallaway three for a 43-25 lead. Then Oubre, who has a 7-2 wingspan and even more athletic, did a solid job containing Bryant. Oubre hadn't played this much since Nov. 27 in a blowout loss in Boston. But late, Beal couldn't do anything to bother Bryant's shot. 

[RELATED: Antawn Jamison excited to join Wizards broadcasts]

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Wizards' assistant Sidney Lowe leaves to join Dwane Casey's staff with Detroit Pistons

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Wizards' assistant Sidney Lowe leaves to join Dwane Casey's staff with Detroit Pistons

The Washington Wizards have an opening on their coaching staff, as assistant Sidney Lowe has left the team to join the Detroit Pistons.

Lowe, according to ESPN, will be the top assistant on new Pistons coach Dwane Casey's staff. 

Lowe spent two seasons under head coach Scott Brooks in Washington. A D.C. native, Lowe starred at DeMatha High School before playing at NC State and then in the NBA.

Lowe was the head coach at his alma mater for five years from 2006 through 2011, but has otherwise been an NBA lifer. He served as head coach of the Timberwolves in 1993-94 and head coach of the Grizzlies from 2000 to 2002.

The Wizards have several coaching hires to make now. They have a new G-League team set to take the court in the fall and will need to hire a staff sometime this summer. 

With Lowe gone, they could choose to promote from within or go outside the organization.

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Little information out there about Wizards' second round pick Issuf Sanon

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Little information out there about Wizards' second round pick Issuf Sanon

Wizards fans will know a lot more about 2018 second round pick Issuf Sanon once he takes the floor next month in the Las Vegas Summer League, but for now the 18-year-old point guard remains a bit of a mystery.

There are limited highlights on YouTube and stats available to evaluate him. Most who have an opinion on the player are operating on little information. 

For now, what we have are some video compilations and quotes from the team. Team president Ernie Grunfeld described Sanon on Thursday night and says he's a player who could someday play both guard positions at the NBA level.

"[He’s a] very talented point guard, combo guard who is very athletic and he has real good upside," Grunfeld said. "Very athletic [and] very talented. [He] makes plays, he has a nice shot and he’s playing very tough competition.”

Grunfeld mentioned Sanon's athleticism many times. The Wizards saw Sanon at the NBA's international combine and love his combination of size and speed. He is 6-foot-4 and 1/2 and noticeably faster than those he competes against in the Premier A Slovenian League. 

Grunfeld likened Sanon's size and speed to Tomas Satoransky, a point guard currently on the Wizards' roster.

"He's a good ball-hander, very competitive and a lot like Tomas. We drafted Tomas at an earlier age, he went overseas [and] he played at the highest level and it got him ready for the NBA.”," Grunfeld said.

The highlights available of Sanon show a guy who clearly stands out above his competition. He has a knack for getting to the rim and can finish in a variety of ways. There are also many clips of him blocking shots, sometimes in the post and often from behind on the fastbreak.

NBA.com has an interesting breakdown of Sanon's most recent season in the Slovenian league from an advanced stats perspective. They applauded his defense and the numbers suggest he puts that unique athleticism to use on the defensive end of the floor.

Had a remarkable year defensively for his age. Gets in a stance and competes to help make up for his lack of experience. Pressures the ball with quick hands, but lacks a degree of anticipation to stay in front of elite athletes. Still figuring out how to handle ball screens without overthinking things, but held his own anyways for the most part. Allowed only 0.471 points per Isolation possession [92nd percentile]. A bit foul prone, but forces turnovers at an impressive rate. Has a good work ethic defensively which should serve him well as he gains experience.

Sports Illustrated raved about Sanon's motor on the court and his hard-nosed approach, two things that would seem to bode well combined with his explosive athleticism:

Rangy, athletic combo guard who plays both ends of the floor. Puts pressure on the rim. Likes to get downhill and attack the basket. Shows flashes in transition. Lots of natural talent.

Sanon spoke with Wizards reporters soon after he was drafted on Thursday night and said Russell Westbrook is a guy he models his game after. He plays at a much lower level of professional basketball, but there are similarities with Westbrook in Sanon's size and knack for scoring at the rim.

The stats only tell so much of the story, as he was going up against lower competition. It is worth noting, however, that his shooting percentage was low pretty much across the board. In 22 games during the 2017-18 season, Sanon shot 29.3 percent from three and 40 percent from the free throw line.

The Wizards have realistic expectations for Sanon, knowing it could take years before he even plays in the NBA. Many second round picks never make it at all.

Grunfeld pointed to Satoransky's career path as a possible timeline for Sanon, meaning the Wizards may not bring him over until he's in his 20s. He won't be able to help at backup point guard right away, but someday perhaps he can put his athleticism to use and actually help the Wizards.

MORE 2018 NBA DRAFT COVERAGE:

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