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Wizards fall on Raptors' buzzer-beater 84-82: Five takeaways


Wizards fall on Raptors' buzzer-beater 84-82: Five takeaways

Turning back the clock and playing the type of grind-it-out defense that the Wizards are known for, they almost ended their three-game losing streak Saturday. But John Wall misfired on two foul shots with five seconds remaining and allowed the Toronto Raptors to set up a final play that resulted in Cory Joseph hitting the game-winner at the buzzer at Verizon Center, 84-82.

It wasn't just that the Wizards (6-8) lost the game. It's how they lost as they had every opportunity to put Toronto away with an 80-72 lead with 4:04 left. Wall had a miserable game shooting, 6 of 25 for 18 points and just five assists.

The Wizards only shot 33.3% in the first half, making 15 of 45 shots, but they got to the foul line eight more times, had eight fewer turnovers than the Raptors (11-6) and held them to 39 first-half points. 

Jared Dudley, making his first start at power forward for Kris Humphries, had seven points and four rebounds. Bradley Beal led the way with 20 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals and Marcin Gortat contributed 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Kyle Lowry's three-pointer tied the score at 70 with 9:09 left, but the Wizards swallowed them up to compensate for stalled offense. But in the end, it was the Raptors Lowry led Toronto with 27 points and DeMar DeRozan 20. Joseph had 12 off the bench.

DeRozan took the inbound pass with three seconds left, drove into the paint and found Joseph spotting up in the corner.

  • Gortat touched the ball early and often, and that's what the Wizards have to do to maximize the big man in the middle who was the only person in the trenches rebounding in the last game. Gortat hit his first four shots. His defensive rotations were Nene-like in helping stop penetration from DeRozan. Gortat stepped out to help on DeRozan in the corner until Otto Porter could recover. With him trapped, DeRozan threw an errant pass cross court. After along rebound, DeRozan got out in the open court to use  a Euro-step to get to the rim but Gortat's block stopped him. 

  • Wall wasn't deterred by missing his first nine shots. He warmed up in the third quarter as he got his looks more in the flow of the offense as he made three consecutive jump shots. But just as important for the point guard was his determination on the defensive end. After Kelly Oubre's contested dunk popped out, DeRozan had a clear breakaway dunk. Wall sprinted from behind to make a legitimate contest -- and despite DeRozan having full extension at the time of Wall's leap -- to break up the play and send him to the foul line. DeRozan made 1 of 2 but this is the type of hustle that has been absent from almost everyone during the losing streak. Cory Joseph bowled Wall over on a drive attempt, and when the whistle didn't blow Wall claimed the loose ball on the floor for a timeout at 4:04. The 50-50 ball battle was won by Washington.

  • Beal had 20 points on just nine shots. That's efficiency. He was getting to the line as he took eight free throws, his most of the season. If Beal is the best shooter/scorer on this team, there's no excuse for him having just two shot attempts in nine minutes of play in the fourth quarter and zero points. 

  • Bismack Biyombo is a defensive force in the middle, but the Wizards made the Raptors pay for the offensive liability being on the floor. They were able to double DeRozan and DeMarre Carroll with whoever was guarding Biyombo to slow down their offense. But Biyombo's presence prevented the Wizards from running away with it. It's not just his four blocks but he changed countless shots on dribble penetration in the paint. Biyombo had  one of the best 0 point games in basketball, also grabbing a game-high 16 rebounds.

  • Because the Wizards took care of the ball in the first half (five turnovers), they were able to lead 45-39 despite making only 15 field goals. They had 10 giveaways in the second half. In all, that's seven fewer than Toronto but down the stretch the mistakes were crippling. There was a shot-clock turnover with 2:39 left as they played hot potato with the ball and Beal gave it away to Joseph soon after. 

MORE WIZARDS: Wizards make change at power forward against Raptors

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Elena Delle Donne the favorite to win WNBA MVP, according to league GMs

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Elena Delle Donne the favorite to win WNBA MVP, according to league GMs

Washington Mystics forward Elena Delle Donne is one of the best players in the WNBA, and thus is always in the discussion for MVP honors. 

And heading into the 2019 season, league GMs give her the best chance of anyone to actually hoist the trophy when it's all said and done. 

In a WNBA.com survey of general managers, 42 percent picked Delle Donne to win MVP in 2019. Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury had the second-most votes at 25 percent, followed by A’ja Wilson of Las Vegas Aces at 17 percent then Las Vegas' Liz Cambage and Jonquel Jones of the Connecticut Sun at eight percent. 

Delle Donne won her first and only WNBA MVP award in 2015 as a member of the Chicago Sky when she averaged a career-high 23.4 points per game. And with the Mystics set to make another run at the WNBA title (58 percent of GMs predicted Washington to have the most regular season wins in the Eastern Conference), she has a great opportunity to get her second this season. 


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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Nickeil Walker-Alexander

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Nickeil Walker-Alexander

The Washington Wizards will have the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Nickeil Alexander-Walker

School: Virginia Tech
Position: Guard
Age: 20 (turns 21 in September)
Height: 6-6
Weight: 204
Wingspan: 6-10
Max vertical: N/A

2018/19 stats: 16.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.9 spg, 0.5 bpg, 47.4 FG% (5.6/11.8), 37.4 3PT% (1.7/4.6), 77.8 FT%

Player comparison: Shai-Gilgeous Alexander, Tomas Satoransky

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 19th, NBADraft.net 14th, Bleacher Report 18th, Sports Illustrated 20th, Ringer 16th

5 things to know:

*Alexander-Walker is a big guard known for his offensive skillset. He can handle the ball, pass and score in a variety of ways. He can play both point guard and shooting guard and affect games with his passing at either spot. 

*He was an excellent three-point shooter in college. As a freshman, he shot 39.2 percent from long range on 4.5 attempts per game. His percentage dipped as a sophomore to 37.4 percent, but that was still impressive given he attempted 4.6 shots per game. 

*Alexander-Walker has a plus wingspan, which he uses to his advantage on defense. He averaged 1.9 steals per game this past season in Blacksburg and his highlight reels are flooded with open court dunks off turnovers. He appears to have strong instincts as a perimeter defender, but could struggle initially at the NBA level against quicker and stronger guards.

*Though he has great size and length for a guard, Alexander-Walker is not considered a premier athlete for the position. He does not have elite quickness or the ability to play consistently above the rim. Because of that, some wonder how high his ceiling will be in the NBA. He may, however, have a high floor given his well-rounded game and basketball IQ.

*Alexander-Walker is from Canada. He has played for the national team as a junior and is part of a new wave of players from the country in the NBA. Alexander-Walker was a high school teammate of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who just enjoyed a strong rookie season with the L.A. Clippers.

Fit with Wizards: The Wizards need help at just about every position, so even a guard can't be ruled out. Alexander-Walker would give them more backcourt depth and that is needed long-term, even after John Wall returns from injury.

If Alexander-Walker can develop into an above average perimeter defender, he could be very useful for the Wizards. They need to improve at stopping dribble penetration and three-point shooters. They could use more players with Alexander-Walker's length and ability to force turnovers. Also, he would help spread the floor with his shooting.

All that said, the Wizards could probably find a player with more upside than Alexander-Walker with the ninth overall pick. He would be more in line with their decision to take Troy Brown Jr. last June.

Like Brown, he is smart and a safe bet to carve out a long NBA career. But could Alexander-Walker become an elite player at his position? He seems like a better option if they trade down into the teens and acquire more picks.

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