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Can Michael Jordan's Hornets prevent back-to-back wins for the Wizards?

Can Michael Jordan's Hornets prevent back-to-back wins for the Wizards?

Sporting the NBA's most prolific offense and coming off their best win of the year against the Spurs, the Wizards are gunning for their first set of back-to-back wins since March of last season. 

The Wizards play the Hornets on Friday at 7 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Washington.

In order to get there, they'll have to get past one of the worst teams in the league in Michael Jordan's Hornets. Charlotte is currently 24th in offensive efficiency, 23rd in defense and has the fourth-worst net rating, getting outscored by nearly eight points per 100 possessions. 

The Wizards' defense has been legitimately awful through the first 12 games of the year, but perhaps the Hornets could be their "get right" game to build some confidence on that end of the floor. 

To do that, they'll need to neutralize Terry Rozier and Miles Bridges. 

Terry Rozier

Rozier broke out in the 2018 playoffs by helping lead the Celtics to the brink of the NBA Finals without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. His follow-up act last season was disastrous. He failed to adjust to a reserve role behind Irving, he ended up shooting 38 percent from the floor and the Celtics, for a multitude of reasons, crashed and burned. 

It became clear that for Rozier to succeed, he needed a team to give him a starting role. That's exactly what the Hornets provided when they signed him to a three-year, $58 million deal to replace Kemba Walker. 

In his first season as a full-time starter, Rozier is averaging 16.5 points, 4.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds while shooting a career-high 41 percent from the floor and 35 percent from three. When trying to stop the Hornets' attack, nearly everything begins with Rozier. 

He's not much of a facilitator on pick and rolls, mostly looking to score off the dribble. This isn't something he's great at, because Rozier's a streaky shooter. If the Wizards' defense lets him get comfortable early and some of his pull-up jumpers fall, he could be in line for a 25-plus point night. 

Miles Bridges

Bridges may not be the most polished offensive player yet, scoring most of his points off of activity and athleticism around the rim, but that's the kind of player who could go off against a defense like the Wizards.

He's shooting a modest 36 percent from three on 4.4 attempts per game, so there's not much of an upside to playing off of him to keep the second-year wing out of the paint. The key will be making sure he's accounted for on the offensive glass and getting back on defense after misses to limit transition opportunities. 

Similarly to Rozier, the Wizards need to be mindful not to let Bridges get going early on. If they can keep both out of rhythm early, Washington shouldn't have a tough time with these Hornets. 

Expectations were low coming into the year for the Wizards and seemingly fell even harder after the team limped out to a 2-7 start. However, it's clear this team can score against anyone and if they decide to play even a lick of defense on Friday, they should walk out with a relatively easy win. 

The Wizards and Hornets tip-off Friday night at 7 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Washington.

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Former NBA Commissioner David Stern has emergency brain surgery

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USA Today Sports Images

Former NBA Commissioner David Stern has emergency brain surgery

The NBA says former Commissioner David Stern suffered a sudden brain hemorrhage Thursday and had emergency surgery.

The league says in a statement its thoughts and prayers are with the 77-year-old Stern's family.

Stern served exactly 30 years as the NBA's longest-tenured commissioner before Adam Silver replaced him on Feb. 1, 2014. Stern has remained affiliated with the league with the title of commissioner emeritus and has remained active in his other interests, such as sports technology.

Zach Brook contributed to this report.

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Wizards, Rui Hachimura get a glimpse at Rookie of the Year favorite Ja Morant

Wizards, Rui Hachimura get a glimpse at Rookie of the Year favorite Ja Morant

For a game featuring a 7-16 Wizards team and the 8-16 Grizzlies, Saturday's matchup packs plenty of intrigue. 

With Rui Hachimura showing plenty of promise in Washington and Ja Morant nearly running away with the Rookie of the Year Award, we're all in for a classic battle of two of the game's best newcomers. 

Outside of that for the Wizards, Saturday night should absolutely be a win. The Grizzlies are 24th in NET rating (25th offense, 21st defense) and while their young core is as promising as any in the league, they don't quite know how to put together wins yet. 

Here's a breakdown of two players the Wizards should be wary of. 

Ja Morant

As we stated earlier with Morant, he's been far and away the best rookie this season. He's averaging 18.7 points, 6.4 assists and 3.2 rebounds on 46.3 percent from the field and 42.2 percent from three. 

Morant had the generational physical tools and exciting upside that got him drafted second overall, the question was whether he'd be able to put it all together at the NBA level, especially playing the hardest position in the league as a lead guard. 

It's safe to say he's answered almost all of those questions just 19 games into his career. 

The Wizards will have to contain his drives to the rim and force him into contested jump shots, which is a lot easier said than done for this defense. 

If they can't keep him in front and he starts breaking down the defense off the dribble, look out. He could mess around and get a triple-double. 

Jaren Jackson Jr.

Before the Grizzlies drafted Morant, Jackson was their crowned jewel prospect. Don't get me wrong, he's still one of the best young players in the league, it's just a testament with how good Morant has been. 

Jackson has the potential to be one of the best defenders in the league one day. When he's playing well, he provides the Grizzlies defense incredible versatility since he can switch onto nearly every position while being able to protect the paint and rebound at a high level. 

Then on the offensive end, Jackson can stretch the floor on pick and pops (37.8 percent 3P) and put the ball on the deck to attack closeouts. He truly is the embodiment of the modern NBA center. 

The Wizards have been used to paint-dominant centers after playing the Sixers and Nuggets over the last few weeks. Jackson just might present a better matchup for their injury-riddled frontcourt. 

Washington would be wise to use Moe Wagner to keep him stretched out of the paint and then take advantage of the Grizzlies suspect perimeter defense to get to the basket. That is, of course, if Wagner can stay on the floor. 

The Wizards and Grizzlies are scheduled to tip at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, and you can catch all of our coverage on NBC Sports Washington.