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Wizards' Scott Brooks named East's coach of the month for January

Wizards' Scott Brooks named East's coach of the month for January

After leading the Wizards to 12 wins in January, tied for most among all NBA teams, Scott Brooks has been named the Eastern Conference's coach of the month. Steve Kerr, whose Golden State Warriors also had 12 wins, earned the honors for the Western Conference.

The Wizards went 12-4 overall in January and continued their NBA-best home winning streak to 15 straight victories by going 7-0 at the Verizon Center. They now hold a 28-20 record overall and sit atop the Southeast Division, while ranking fourth overall in the conference. The Wizards finished the month with a season-high five game winning streak. 

Brooks, in his first year in Washington, has overseen a Wizards team recover from a disappointing 2-8 start and do so without backup center Ian Mahinmi. Mahinmi was their biggest offseason acquisition - he signed a four-year, $64 million deal in free agency - but has been sidelined by knee injuries. He has helped guide many players to the best seasons of their careers including starters John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter.

Brooks has worked wonders with a Wizards' bench that features many new faces and took months to find chemistry this season. Brooks has had to mix and match his rotations at times to stabilize a unit that early this season appeared to be a significant weakness. He has overseen the development of second-year forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. and has helped find more production from veterans like Jason Smith and Trey Burke, who had slow starts to the year after joining the Wizards in the offseason.

Brooks is the first Wizards coach to win a coach of the month award since Eddie Jordan did so in December of 2006. Other winners in franchise history include Doug Collins (Dec. of 2001) and Wes Unseld (Jan. of 1988).

This is the second straight month an award has been given to the Wizards. Wall won Eastern Conference player of the month for December.

Brooks, 51, signed a five-year deal to take over the Wizards in April after taking a year off from the NBA coaching ranks. He previously was the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder from 2008 through 2015 and won the NBA's coach of the year award in 2010.

Brooks won coach of the month three times while with the Thunder, once in 2009-10, again in 2011-12 and once more in 2014-15, his final year with OKC. This is Brooks' eighth season as an NBA head coach. He previously worked as an assistant in Denver, Sacramento, Seattle and in Oklahoma City before he took over as head coach. Brooks played 11 seasons in the NBA before becoming a coach.

[RELATED: Morning tip: Scott Brooks' methods are welcomed change for Wizards]

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Five observations from Wizards' 119-109 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, including Dwight Howard's injury

Five observations from Wizards' 119-109 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, including Dwight Howard's injury

The Washington Wizards lost to the Portland Trail Blazers 119-109 on Sunday night. Here are five observations from the game...

Not good: It just keeps getting worse. The Wizards have been playing a sleepy, uninspired brand of basketball in recent games and on Sunday they met a Blazers team that does just the opposite.

The result was probably predictable. Though the Wizards edged the Blazers last month in Portland, this time they lost a game that was nowhere near as close as the final score suggested. 

Portland led by as many as 29 points and the Wizards only cut that down late when head coach Scott Brooks emptied his bench. He brought in a host of young guys who were hungry and just happy to be playing like Troy Brown Jr. and Thomas Bryant. Hopefully the starters, who have been missing those qualities, were paying attention.

These teams are currently on two entirely different trajectories. The Blazers are trending up, while the Wizards, who have lost two straight, are sliding quickly.

Washington is now 5-11 on the season. That's worse than their mark at this point two years ago when they mounted the famous comeback.

Howard hurt again: Things were already going terribly for the Wizards when they got much worse. Dwight Howard, who was coming off a huge game against the Nets, left in the second quarter after aggravating his strained piriformis muscle injury. 

Howard, of course, missed the first seven games of the year with the injury, which has also been referred to as gluteal soreness. We knew he was still dealing with discomfort when he came back and it has never really gone away.

The injury affects his ability to run and jump. He can't even sit on the bench because of the pain. The fact it's bothering him enough to leave a game is a really bad sign.

Too many fouls: Just like last game, Howard found himself entangled in foul trouble and this time he got started earlier. By the midway point of the first quarter, he had two. By the 5:30 mark of the second quarter, he had three.

At least against the Nets on Friday, Howard was effective when he was on the floor. This time, he couldn't find a rhythm. His time on the court was basically a wash.

These two games show just how easy it is for Howard to rack up fouls and how much it hurts the Wizards when he gets in foul trouble. 

Horrid start: The Wizards have had some lifeless stretches this season, far too often for the talent they have on the roster. The way they began this game was them at their absolute worst.

They just couldn't keep up with the Blazers, who were zipping the ball around the court to find open shooters. Portland built a 20-point lead in the first quarter, 32-12, as they shot 7-for-9 from three. The seventh was a wide open look by C.J. McCollum.

That's C.J. McCollum, as in one of the best shooting guards in basketball. Somehow the Wizards completely lost him and paid for it. Those are the types of plays that are hard to excuse.

Bright spots: If there were any positives to draw from this game, it was the play of Kelly Oubre Jr. and Tomas Satoransky. Neither shot the ball well, but their energy and effort were noticeable on a night when most of their teammates just didn't have it.

They were among the few Wizards players active on defense and closing out on the three-point line. They helped key a 13-0 run to end the first quarter and helped the team show some life in the second half when the game was already out of hand.

Oubre finished with 19 points, four assists, four rebounds, and three blocks. He was +14. Satoransky had 10 points, seven assists and was +22. If Brooks wants some more energy from his team, those two could provide it.


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Dwight Howard leaves Wizards-Blazers game after aggravating piriformis injury

Dwight Howard leaves Wizards-Blazers game after aggravating piriformis injury

While down big against the Blazers on Sunday night, matters got even worse for the Washington Wizards as starting center Dwight Howard exited the game after aggravating his piriformis muscle injury.

Howard initially left the game midway through the second quarter due to foul trouble. Soon after, he went to the locker room with a trainer to get treatment. Howard was clearly frustrated as he walked through the tunnel.

Howard, 32, missed the first seven games of the season due to the injury, a strained piriformis muscle. He was sidelined for all of training camp and the preseason.

The piriformis muscle is located just below the back. Howard has battled discomfort while running, jumping and even sitting while dealing with the injury.

Even when he returned, he told reporters the pain had not completely subsided.

Howard left Sunday's game with two points and three rebounds in seven minutes.

More on this story as it develops...