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Wizards lock down Hornets 109-101: Five takeaways

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Wizards lock down Hornets 109-101: Five takeaways

The old Wizards, who won games with their grit on defense and making teams pay by getting out in transition, reappeared Saturday as they topped the Charlotte Hornets 109-101 in from of 16,987 at Verizon Center.

The victory ends a two-game losing streak and Washington (11-14) did it against one of the NBA's surprise teams in Charlotte (15-11) without Otto Porter (left thigh bruise).

Four starters for the Wizards scored in double figures, led by John Wall who had 20 of his game-high 27 points in the first half, and 12 assists. Garrett Temple set a career-high with 21 points on 7 of 9 shooting, Jared Dudley had season highs of 19 points and nine rebounds and 18 points for Marcin Gortat, including a clutch shot from the baseline to give them a 103-98 edge after Charlotte had cut the deficit to 99-98.

Making his first start as a pro in place of Porter, rookie Kelly Oubre had eight points, five rebounds and one block in 21 minutes. 

The Wizards stretched their lead to as many as 14 in the third quarter despite seven turnovers.

Charlotte was led by Kemba Walker's 18 points, but he shot just 6 of 18, including 1 of 7 on three-pointers. Nic Batum, who was playing limited minutes after coming off missing a game with an illness, had 14 points but shot just 1 of 7 from deep, too. Jeremy Lin had 15 points, seven assists and six rebounds off the bench.

Lin was denied on the game's final play as Wall hustled down the court for a chase-down block.

  • Playing with better players, especially when it comes to rookies, makes you better. That was clear with Oubre who scored a career-high 18 points in the Wizards' last game, a loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Those were minutes when they mattered and not just garbage time. Oubre had five points and three rebounds in his first six minutes to get Washington out to a good start. Oubre didn't overdribble or attempt to do anything beyond his comfort zone. If it weren't for foul trouble, he would've contributed more. 
  • Without Bradley Beal and Porter in the starting lineup, Wall had to assume more of the scoring load and did so by scoring 11 of Washington's first 20 points as he opened 5 of 7 from the field. He's being bothered by a right ankle sprain that kept him out of practice Friday but still played 42 minutes.
  • Offensive rebounds killed the Wizards early as they gave up nine in the first two quarters. After playing good initial defense, the failure to grab the long rebounds led to so many extra chances. Eighteen of their 51 rebounds were offensive as they took advantage of Gortat having to step out and contest jump shooters and players like Marvin Williams (six) and Cody Zeller (four) slipping inside for putback chances.
  • Wall was tired and coach Randy Wittman had trouble resting him with the roster so thin. With a chance to pull away in the third quarter up 66-59, after Oubre's block of Zeller from behind, Wall had a turnover that produced a layup for Zeller. Then he had a risky pass that Batum that led to Oubre getting his third and fourth fouls and having to go to the bench. Wall had another turnover soon after that on a pass to Temple in the corner that led to Williams' layup that pulled Charlotte to 70-69. And Wall had yet another on a miscommunication with Dudley, who he thought was spotting up for a three. The Wizards led 86-75 after the third quarter, and without half of these giveaways the fourth quarter might've just been garbage time.
  • The three-point defense was finally up to par as the Wizards held them to 10 of 33, or 30.3%. They gave up some second-chance putbacks as a result but this was a pick-your-poison strategy and they opted to eliminate the long ball. Gortat bothered plenty of attempts which pulled him away from the rim and explains his six rebounds. The Wizards are the worst in the NBA at allowing three-point shots, only one of two teams to allow teams to shoot over 40% from deep. This is why they switched on most screens which left Gortat away from the rim. He contested the likes of Walker and Williams very well to force misses.

RELATED: Humphries, Sessions both record and-1s in the 3rd

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For a January game, Wizards vs. Pistons has plenty of playoff implications

For a January game, Wizards vs. Pistons has plenty of playoff implications

Winners of six of their last nine games, the Washington Wizards have breathed new life into their season, now with revitalized hopes of making the playoffs. On Monday, they will get a shot at one of the teams standing in their way.

With a 2 p.m. tip-off on NBC Sports Washington, the Wizards host the Detroit Pistons in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day matinee. The Wizards are 10th in the Eastern Conference and the Pistons are ninth.

With a win over the Pistons, the Wizards would move into a tie for ninth, just one spot out of the playoff picture. Though more than two months remain in the regular season, the Wizards can gain some valuable ground.

Whether that is on their mind going into the match-up depends on whom you ask.

"It's definitely too early to talk about it," head coach Scott Brooks said.

"I think there are some very important games [coming up] where we go head-to-head against the guys who are around us in the standings," guard Tomas Satoransky said, singing a different tune.

Satoransky doesn't just see an opportunity against the Pistons on Monday, he mentioned Friday's game against the Magic as well. Orlando is one spot behind the Wizards in 11th.

The standings are one thing. Even more important for the big picture is head-to-head records, which determine tiebreakers for playoff seeding. The Wizards are 0-1 against the Pistons, having lost in Detroit on Dec. 26. 

A win on Monday would tie the season series with only one meeting left, on Feb. 11. If the Pistons win on Monday, they would lock up the tiebreaker.

The Wizards have reasons to be confident going into this meeting with the Pistons. While they are playing their best basketball of the season, Detroit has been in a tailspin. Going back to Dec. 3, they are 7-18. Only the Cavaliers have more losses during that stretch.

In those 25 games, the Pistons have been 28th in the NBA in offensive rating (103.6) and effective field goal percentage (49.6). They have committed the third-most turnovers per game (15.6).

Injuries haven't been the reason, but the Pistons have a few to report entering Monday's game. All-Star center Andre Drummond missed their last game on Saturday with a concussion and is considered day-to-day. Guard Ish Smith is also day-to-day after missing Saturday's game with a groin injury.

The Wizards have a chance to beat a reeling team and gain some control of their playoff hopes. We'll see if they take advantage.

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5 things to know about new Wizards guard Gary Payton II, also known as 'The Mitten'

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5 things to know about new Wizards guard Gary Payton II, also known as 'The Mitten'

The Wizards are set to add guard Gary Payton II on a 10-day contract to fill their 14th roster spot. Here are five things to know about the Wizards' newest player...

1. Payton II is the son of NBA Hall of Famer Gary Payton Sr. His father made nine All-Star teams, nine All-NBA teams, won a title with the Heat on 2006 and is considered one of the best defensive players of all-time. Payton starred for the Seattle Supersonics in the 1990s, so naturally Payton II is originally from Seattle.

2. His father also had one of the best NBA nicknames of all-time. He was known as 'The Glove.' So, according to Basketball Reference, Payton II is sometimes referred to as 'The Mitten.' 

3. Payton II, a point guard, is listed at 6-foot-3 and shoots left-handed. He has appeared in 29 total NBA games split between the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers. He was Thomas Bryant's teammate in L.A. 

Payton II also spent time with the Portland Trailblazers in 2018-19 training camp before getting released in October. Since then, he played with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the G-League where he averaged 19.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 3.4 steals in 13 games.

4. Just like his father, Payton II played his college ball at Oregon State. With the Beavers, Payton II became the first player to win Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year twice. He averaged 2.8 steals per game in college.

5. Payton goes by Payton II, not by Payton Jr. That's because his half-brother is Gary Payton Jr. Payton Sr. named two of his sons after himself. There is also a third Payton brother named Julian, according to Payton II's college bio.

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