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Bradley Beal offers harsh assessment of Wizards who continue to lose ground in playoff race

Bradley Beal offers harsh assessment of Wizards who continue to lose ground in playoff race

Elvin Hayes, Phil Chenier and the 1977-78 Bullets deserved better than this.

While hosting some of the best players in franchise history to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their lone NBA championship, the Wizards put in one of their worst performances of the season, a 101-97 loss to a Knicks team that had lost 19 of their last 22 games.

With the loss, the Wizards have now dropped eight of their last 12 games. Players are fed up and searching for answers.

No one was stronger with his words than guard Bradley Beal, who didn't play very well himself. He was held to 14 points on 5-for-17 shooting by New York.

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Beal was sick of his own play and that of his teammates when addressing the media afterwards.

"We're acting like we don't give a damn, honestly. We thought we could just show up and play because they didn't have anything to play for. We just thought it was going to be a cake walk and they just smacked us in the mouth," Beal said.

He went on.

"I'm tired of talking about this s***. It's just the same thing over and over," he said. "Until we do it individually and together collectively, we're going to get our asses kicked in the playoffs. This isn't even remotely acceptable, how we are playing right now."

Beal's frustrations have boiled over as the Wizards are playing some of their worst basketball of the entire season right when they should be gearing up for the playoffs. While they are stumbling, teams like the Cavaliers and Sixers are sprinting to the finish, appearing to peak at the right time.

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The Wizards, meanwhile, are losing their footing. The good news is that five-time All-Star John Wall is on his way back. The bad news is that he won't be back immediately. Wall still has to go through several more practices before he is cleared for game action.

From there, it could take time for Wall to get up to full speed. Wednesday will mark eight weeks since he had arthroscopic left knee surgery.

Wall is still on the mend and won't fix all of their problems overnight. The Wizards need to understand that and play like it.

Head coach Scott Brooks was asked about whether his team was overlooking games, knowing Wall is very close to returning. He balked at the suggestion.

Minutes later, point guard Tomas Satoransky brought it up unprompted.

"It looks like we are waiting for John to come back and change everything," Satoransky said. "We're not playing like we did the first games he was missing. That's not right way to do it. We have to go and play as hard as we can every game."

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There's no question this team looks different than they did when Wall first went out in late January. They began his absence by winning 10 of their first 13 games.

There were even whispers in the media and among fans about whether the Wizards were better off without Wall in the mix. They were completely uninformed and off-base, but those things were said.

Now all of that seems ridiculous in hindsight. There was a long way to go and surely the Wizards were going to experience some rough times while Wall was out. No team loses an All-NBA player and all of a sudden gets better. It doesn't work like that.

These struggles were probably inevitable for the Wizards without Wall. They happen to be occurring in the days leading up to his return, creating tension and urgency to keep the ship afloat before their captain returns.

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Wizards fall flat in battle with young Grizzlies

Wizards fall flat in battle with young Grizzlies

The Washington Wizards lost to the Memphis Grizzlies 128-111 on Saturday night. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

1. It was just over a week ago the Wizards had their best win of the season against the Sixers. Saturday night was one of their worst.

They went into Memphis to play an emerging, but struggling team and got their you-know-whats handed to them. The Wizards jumped out to a 13-6 lead in the first, then lost the momentum and never got it back.

By halftime the Wizards were down 15. That deficit grew to 24 in the second half.

The Wizards ended up losing by 17, but it wasn't as close as the score would suggest. It was Washington's seventh loss in eight games.

Maybe it was the three-day layoff. Perhaps they weren't sharp. Whatever the reason, that was a bad one.

2. As this game went on, it became very obvious that Memphis' gameplan was to make sure Davis Bertans didn't beat them. They swarmed the Latvian Laser on the perimeter and guarded him well beyond the three-point line.

Bertans was held to nine points on 2-for-9 shooting and 1-for-6 from three. His one three was a quick release shot from about 27 feet out. Soon after that, the defense was picking him up at halfcourt.

 

This type of treatment was inevitable for Bertans, who has been the biggest surprise of the Wizards' season so far. He has turned into one of the league's best three-point shooters and the second-best scorer on the team. Teams now know it.

3. Rui Hachimura's college teammate stole the show in this one. Brandon Clarke, who played last year with Hachimura at Gonzaga, put on an impressive scoring display highlighted by a series of vicious dunks. He measured a max vertical of 40 1/2 inches and used every inch of it to dunk all over the Wizards.

He had 19 points in the first half, including an alley-oop where his head was level with the rim and a poster dunk on the fastbreak that nearly ended Ian Mahinmi's career.

 

Clarke had 25 points on 11-for-14 shooting with four rebounds. Coming out of the draft, he was considered a good defensive player but too old (he's 23) and too raw offensively without a three-point shot.

So far, he's looking like a major steal at the 21st overall pick. 

4. The Grizzlies might not be good, but they are fun to watch and have a nice young core with Clarke alongside Jaren Jackson Jr. and Morant. Jackson is a unicorn at 6-foot-11 with the ability to drive coast-to-coast and hit threes. Morant is a force of nature, able to play well above the rim despite being 6-foot-3.

Morant nearly pulled off one of the most disrespectful plays in basketball on Bradley Beal. He tried to pull a "Michael Jordan on Ron Mercer" by snatching the ball off the glass with two hands. But he clipped the rim and was called for goaltending. Still, it was impressive because of how high he got in the air.

Memphis has an exciting young team. They might contend for a playoff spot next year with a good offseason. If they were in the East, they could really make some noise.

5. The Wizards were without several key regulars once again. Isaiah Thomas missed his fifth straight game with a left calf strain and Moe Wagner was out with his left ankle sprain after playing in the past four games.

They did get back Garrison Mathews, though. The two-way guard played in his first game since Oct. 25 after sitting out due to a stress reaction in his right leg. It was Mathews' third professional game, but he made his first shot - a corner three. It happened to come in his home state of Tennessee. 

Mathews might actually get some minutes in the next few weeks because he is the second-best shooting guard on the roster with Jordan McRae out due to a finger injury.

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Wizards release statement on the passing of John Wall's mother

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Wizards release statement on the passing of John Wall's mother

The Washington Wizards announced the passing of John Wall's mother, Frances Pulley on Friday. 

Wall's mother had been battling cancer before her passing. She was 58. 

In a statement on Twitter, the Wizards said, "Sending thoughts and love for John Wall and his family after the passing of his mother, Frances Pulley. She will forever be a part of our #DCFamily."

Zach Leonsis, the senior vice president of strategic initiatives at Monumental Sports & Entertainment, also released a statement

"Thinking of @JohnWall and his family right now. Keeping you guys in our prayers. So terribly sorry for your loss and know that she will be remembered forever. #DCFamily

Wall's Kentucky coach, John Calipari also expressed his condolences for his former star: 

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