If Thursday's game against the Utah Jazz is the start of a turnaround to the Wizards' season as they play their first of three consecutive games on three nights, when Markieff Morris arrives things will get a lot more exciting.
The Wizards (24-28) led for most of four quarters en route to a 103-89 blowout at Verizon Center in front of 12,415, learning earlier in the day that Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair had been shipped to the Phoenix Suns in a trade deadline deal.
Marcin Gortat (22 points, 10 rebounds, season-high five blocks) had his best offensive output since Dec. 26. He was followed by John Wall (17 points, 11 assists, six rebounds, four steals), Nene (16 points, five rebounds, four assists), Bradley Beal (16 points), Ramon Sessions (13 points, five rebounds) and Otto Porter (nine points).
Gordon Hayward led the Jazz (19 points) with help from Rudy Gobert (16 points, 12 rebounds, five blocks) and Rodney Hood (18 points) but they were out of this one after the fell behind 28-23 to end the first quarter.
- The lack of point-guard play is glaring for Utah, and Wall took advantage. Raul Neto nor Trey Burke could handle that assignment as he almost posted his second triple-double of the season. The Jazz had 23 turnovers with their poor ball-handling that led to 27 points (and 34 fast-break points) for Washington.
- Nene started at power forward instead of Jared Dudley to combat the size of Derrick Favors and Gobert in Utah's frontcourt. The Wizards are now 2-3 when Nene starts next to Gortat. He was able to use his superior foot speed to turn the corner for finger-roll layups on Favors and used his superior strength to turn into Gobert, bump him off-balance and get his shot on the rim before the shot-blocker could get to it. It still didn't help much in the rebounding department where the Jazz had a 48-36 edge.
- Beal, who isn't sure how his minutes will be managed yet with three consecutive games, came off the bench and his shot was off. He floated an airball on a runner and whiffed on a wide-open three at the top of the key. Then he took a blow to the face at the end of the first quarter that came from his teammate, Drew Gooden, who was going for a loose ball. Beal still is wearing a mask after breaking his nose a few weeks ago but stayed on the court to play 23 minutes. He had five consecutive points in the fourth quarter -- 11 total -- that gave the Wizards the breathing room they needed to hold off a mini-run by Utah.
- The ball pressure from Porter and Garrett Temple set the tone early as they were able to disrupt Hayward as he began by shooting just 2 of 6 in the first half. Gortat was effective in this regard as well, forcing Favors into tough, fallaway shots that didn't have a chance. He was 0 of 3 in the first half with three turnovers and three fouls that ruined any chance he had of getting into a rhythm.
- The Jazz shot 4 of 15 from three-point range, 26.7%. Three-point defense is a major weakness for Washington (worst in NBA), and keeping Hayward from getting clean looks was key. Hood accounted for three of the made threes.