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Wizards losing streak extended to 11


Wizards losing streak extended to 11

Now the heartbreak is getting too painful to bear.

Three nights after suffering their most crushing loss of the season, the Wizards were forced to digest another gut-wrenching defeat Saturday night, keeping them oh-for-November.

This time it was a heart-stopping 108-106 double overtime setback to the visiting Charlotte Bobcats. The Wizards are now an NBA-worst 0-11 – the worst start in franchise history and seven shy of matching the worst start in NBA history.

Wasted in the defeat was another herculean effort by Nene, who finished with 19 points in his second game back after missing the nine games with pain in his right heel.

Martell Webster came off the bench to lead the Wizards with a season-high 21 points, but Byron Mullens led the Bobcats with 27 and the Wizards were left to explain another last-second defeat.

Believe it or not, it could get worse for the Wizards before it gets better. Their next five opponents -- San Antonio [10-3], Portland [6-6], New York [8-3], Miami [9-3] and Atlanta [7-4] -- have a combined record of 40-19.

The Wizards had a chance to win at the end of the first overtime when Chris Singleton was fouled by Jeffery Taylor while attempting a 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds remaining and the Wizards trailing by two.

Singleton drained the first shot, but his second rattled around the rim three times before falling out. He sank his final free throw to tie the score at 99-99 and send the game into a second overtime.

The Wizards grabbed a 102-99 lead early in the second overtime on a fadeaway jumper by Nene, but a Reggie Williams 3-pointer and free throws by Ramon Sessions and Kemba Walker sealed it for the Bobcats.

Bradley Beal made it close when he drilled a 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds remaining to draw the Wiz within one, but Walker hit one of two in the closing seconds and Jordan Crawford’s halfcourt prayer missed the mark.

To their credit the Wizards stormed back from a late eight-point deficit and twice had a chance to win on the final possession of regulation. Martell Webster went to the line with 17.1 seconds remaining and a chance to put the Wizards ahead.

After making his first free throw, Webster missed the second, but the Wizards grabbed the rebound and Crawford’s attempt at the game-winner bounced hard off the back of the rim, sending the game into overtime at 92-92.

Wizards coach Randy Wittman went back to a starting lineup of Beal, Jan Vesely, Kevin Seraphin, Crawford and Shaun Livingston.

It may not have been the quintet Wittman drew up in training camp, but all five players got on the scoresheet and received solid support from the bench as the Wizards carried a 51-50 lead into the half.

Emeka Okafor came off the bench for nine first-half points, including a three-point play off a slick behind-the-back bounce pass from Nene with 14 seconds to go in the half

The 51 first-half points the most for the Wizards this season and the lead marked just the third time all season the Wizards carried a lead into halftime.

The good vibrations of the first half vanished early in the third quarter when the Bobcats went on a 14-2 run to take a 64-53 lead. The Wizards immediately answered with their own 12-2 run that Webster finished off with a 3-pointer.

Webster finished with a team-high eight points in that third quarter as the two teams entered the fourth locked in a 72-72 tie.


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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Marcin Gortat

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Marcin Gortat

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Marcin Gortat's season...

Player: Marcin Gortat

Position: Center

Age: 34

2017-18 salary: $12.8 million

2017-18 stats: 82 G, 25.3 mpg, 8.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.8 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.7 bpg, 51.8 FG%, 67.5 FT%, 51.8 eFG%, 112 ORtg, 107 DRtg

Best game: 10/18 vs. Sixers - 16 points, 17 rebounds, 3 blocks, assist, 7-for-12 FG

Season review: Marcin Gortat is self-aware enough to know that what happened to him in 2017-18 was inevitable in many ways. He even publicly called it before the season.

He was one year older, with Ian Mahinmi healthy and in the rotation, and with the NBA continuing to move towards small-ball and big men who can play on the perimeter. As a result, Gortat saw his role in the Wizards rotation pared down noticeably.

Though he still started all 82 games, his minutes went down from 31.2 per game the year before the 25.3. Kelly Oubre, Jr., who played the majority of the season coming off the bench, logged more minutes than Gortat, though he was a starter.

Gortat's minutes were his fewest since the 2009-10 season, when he was a 25-year-old bench player for the Orlando Magic. His numbers this season followed suit. Gortat's points and rebounds per game were both the lowest since that 2009-10 campaign.

Gortat averaged a career-best 10.4 rebounds per game in 2016-17, but the minutes had a direct effect on his volume of boards. He pulled in 2.4 less per game this season despite his rebound percentage (17.0) being close to his career average (17.5). That career average, by the way, is 30th-best all-time an eighth among active players.

Not getting the same opportunities he had in years past, plus public misunderstandings with teammates, combined to make for a frustrating year for Gortat. He said on the Wizards Tipoff podcast midseason it was the worst year of his career. Gortat, though, did continue to make an impact setting screens for the Wizards and he rallied to finish relatively strong.

He had several solid outings in the playoffs, including his 16 points in Game 3 and his 12 rebounds in Game 5. The question is whether that is the last time we will see Gortat in a Wizards uniform.

Washington has played with the idea of trading Gortat for a while now. He popped up in rumors around the trade deadline in February, but remained on the roster. Now he has an expiring contract working in his favor, making it a bit more likely he gets dealt.

Gortat knows his future in Washington is uncertain, though he said following the season he would like to stay. It would not be surprising to him or anyone if he were traded this summer. If not, he's got one year left with the Wizards and could very well have his role decreased even more.

Potential to improve: Rim protection, midrange shooting, free throw percentage

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Kelly Oubre, Jr.

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Kelly Oubre, Jr.

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Kelly Oubre, Jr.'s season...

Player: Kelly Oubre, Jr.

Position: Small forward

Age: 22

2017-18 salary: $2.1 million

2017-18 stats: 81 G, 27.5 mpg, 11.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.4 bpg, 40.3 FG%, 34.1 3P%, 82.0 FT%, 48.2 eFG%, 106 ORtg, 109 DRtg

Best game: 3/21 at Spurs - 21 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, 2 steals, 9-for-17 FG, 3-for-6 3PT

Season review: The first half of Kelly Oubre, Jr.'s 2017-18 season went very differently than the second half. Through 46 games to begin the year, Oubre shot 44.9 percent from the field and 40.5 percent from the perimeter. Oubre then shot just 34.9 percent from the field and 27.4 percent from three in his last 35 games to close the regular season. That included a stretch from March 25 through April 5 in which he shot 2-for-35 from long range and 23-for-77 (29.9%) overall in seven games.

As his head coach described, Oubre had a tale of two seasons. By mid-January it appeared to be a breakout year, as he was scoring consistently and shooting at a high percentage. He was even limiting his mistakes on defense. Then, his shot went away and Oubre could never quite regain it.

All in all, Oubre's season represented a step forward. He proved he could be a top-six player in a playoff rotation and had extended stretches of success he can draw confidence from in the future.

Now Oubre enters his biggest offseason yet as a basketball player. He has just one year left on his rookie scale contract and will be in line for a considerable raise if he keeps developing. If Oubre takes even a slight step forward, he will make big money in his next contract. If he takes a major leap forward, like Otto Porter did when he was in the same position in 2016-17, he could earn way more money than the Wizards can afford as currently constructed.

That dynamic gives the Wizards a decision to make this summer on Oubre's future. He has significant trade value at this point, given his upside and his contract. He is due to make just $3.2 million next season and will be a restricted free agent in the summer of 2019. If they don't see a long-term future for him in Washington, trading him this offseason should not be ruled out.

It figures to be a busy summer for the Wizards and when it comes to Oubre there are a lot of factors in play. If they want financial flexibility, another option would be to deal Porter or another frontcourt starter and roll with Oubre as a less expensive option. Though his season was inconsistent, Oubre has shown enough to warrant consideration as a starter.

Regardless of what the Wizards decide, Oubre himself is in good shape. If he keeps getting better, he will earn a nice deal whether it's in Washington or somewhere else. He just needs to find consistency on both ends of the floor. 

He can do that on offense by tightening up his ball-handling and improving his ability to get to the rim. That would allow him to circumnavigate the type of shooting struggles that held him back late in the year.

Defensively, he has all the natural ability needed to be an elite player. He just needs to limit the gambles he takes that turn into blown assignments or unnecessary fouls.

Potential to improve: Consistency, efficiency, ball-handling


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