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As Markelle Fultz returns home, the Wizards must find an answer for him

As Markelle Fultz returns home, the Wizards must find an answer for him

As the Wizards return home from a brutal west coast road trip, they are set to host former DeMatha High School star Markelle Fultz and the 8-11 Magic. 

The Magic are probably one of the better matchups for the Wizards this year. They're one of the best defenses in the league (9th in NBA) but struggle immensely on offense (29th). They're basically Washington's evil twin depending on how you look at it. 

The last time these two teams played, Orlando's offense proved to be less inept than the Wizards' defense and won 125-121. We could be in line for another one of those games on Tuesday, but maybe with a brand new small lineup the Wizards could actually make some stops. 

Given how past DeMatha players have fared against their home-town team this season, bottling up Fultz might be the key to a victory. He already put up 19 points in Orlando's win three weeks ago, Nuggets forward Jerami Grant gave the Wizards a 20-piece in Denver and then Quinn Cook had 17 points of his own this past Friday. 

As nice as it will be for Fultz to return home and play in a primary role for his new team, the Wizards need to find an answer for these DeMatha kids continuously cooking them. 

Markelle Fultz

After dealing with a shoulder injury and a nightmare situation in Philadelphia during his first two seasons, Fultz finally has a consistent role on an NBA team this year with Steve Clifford's squad. He's averaging 11.7 points and 3.8 assists on near 50 percent shooting from the field, and given he's still just 21 years old, he's getting better every game. 

The three-point stroke isn't quite there yet, but that was never the best part about Fultz's game. It's his patience driving to the basket and his ability to change speeds at an instant to get above the rim. 

Fultz is one of the smoothest athletes you'll see on a basketball court, and if he's able to consistently break down a defense with his drives he presents a major problem. 

The Wizards are one of the worst team's in the NBA at defending the paint and are without every center they have, so Fultz could be in line for a big game.

The silver lining here is that the Magic are not a good shooting team. They rank 29th in the NBA in both field goal percentage and three-point percentage. So if Fultz gets past his man and kicks to an open shooter, the Wizards may be able to survive. 

Isaac Bonga may be the best option to put on Fultz. He's long and mobile and would be the Wizards' best bet to contain his dribble penetration. Another option is to switch everything with their small lineup.

Jonathan Isaac

When determining who to credit Orlando's top-10 defensive rating to, the conversation begins and ends with Jonathan Isaac. 

The third-year wing can guard practically every position on the floor, uses his length and foot-speed to torture scores and has the handle to grab rebounds or steals and immediately take them the other way. 

I'd predict Isaac to get deployed on either Bradley Beal or Davis Bertans Tuesday night. Beal and Bertans are different scorers obviously, but Isaac has the tools to shut either of them down. 

Every team who's stifled the Wizards' elite offense so far this season has done it by blitzing Beal and forcing the ball out of his hands. The Magic would be keen to try and do that and why not deploy your best defender on him. 

The Wizards and Magic tip-off at 7 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Washington as Washington looks to rebound from a 1-3 road trip. 

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Wizards committed more turnovers against the Raptors than they have in any game in 25 years

Wizards committed more turnovers against the Raptors than they have in any game in 25 years

Whether it's good or bad, nothing the Wizards do is subtle. 

They'll score a million points and give up two million points. They'll beat the Heat, Nuggets and Celtics without Bradley Beal but also blow an 18-point fourth quarter lead to the Bulls. 

The Wizards had some turnover issues Friday night, but again, they're never subtle. 

Washington committed 28 turnovers on the way to a 29-point loss. Following the first seven minutes of play, the Wizards had seven turnovers and seven points. 

The last time the Wizards turned the ball over that much was April 2, 1994, in a 104-96 win over the Bucks. The last time an NBA team turned it over 28 times? The 2010 Suns. 

Nine Wizards players had multiple turnovers, while five players had at least three. 

Following Bradley Beal's comments criticizing the team's culture and need to develop winning habits, the Wizards' response left more than enough to be desired. Credit the Raptors defense utilizing their length and ball pressure to take advantage of when the Wizards were loose with the ball, but it takes more than good defense to turn it over 28 times. 

The bright side is this was an uncharacteristic performance for the Wizards. They currently average the 10th-fewest turnovers per game in the NBA, so there's a good chance they clean things up on Monday against the Pistons. 

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Wizards barely put up a fight vs. Raptors after Bradley Beal's strong comments

Wizards barely put up a fight vs. Raptors after Bradley Beal's strong comments

The Washington Wizards lost to the Toronto Raptors 140-111 on Friday night on the road. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

1. In case anyone was wondering how the Wizards would respond to Bradley Beal's strong comments about the team's culture, the answer is not well.

The Wizards barely put up a fight against the Toronto Raptors in a lopsided loss. They lost by 29 and trailed by as many as 33.

One reason was they committed 28 turnovers. They also allowed the Raptors to make 22 threes. That's the third-most allowed in one game by the Wizards in franchise history.

This was the Wizards' 41st game of the season. With a 13-28 record, they are on pace to win 26 games.

2. The Wizards didn't just lose this game, they may have lost backup shooting guard Jordan McRae for an extended period of time.

McRae stepped on a shoe at midcourt and rolled his left ankle. He immediately went down in obvious pain and had to be carried off the floor and into the locker room. 

It was reminiscent of the ankle injury Garrison Mathews suffered nearly two weeks ago. That one fortunately did not result in a fracture or ligament damage. He just had a bad ankle sprain.

Just like Mathews, McRae suffered his injury at a time when he was playing well and really coming into his own. Tough timing.

3. There weren't many positives for the Wizards in this one, but Isaac Bonga certainly was one. The second-year wing dropped a career-high 17 points to go along with 10 rebounds and a steal. Five of his rebounds were on the offensive end.

Bonga shot 6-for-9 from the field and hit two threes. His continued development as a scorer has been impressive to watch this season.

4. Davis Bertans is such a good shooter that when he releases the ball, it is expected to go in. Even rarer, it seems, he misses two in a row.

Every once in a while, once in a blue moon, he has a legitimate off-shooting night. Friday was one of those nights. Bertans had 12 points and shot 3-for-11 from three.

Per usual of late, Bertans wasn't exactly open due to his place on the scouting report but he got decent looks. Many of his threes clanged off the front of the rim. 

Maybe he had tired legs. Whatever it was, the Latvian Laser didn't have it like he usually does.

5. The Isaiah Thomas experience has not been good as of late. The Wizards point guard at another bad game, this time with eight points in 16 minutes.

He just looked off; sluggish and making mental mistakes. That included two turnovers in the first quarter when he passed the ball as the shot clock expired.

Those decisions were inexcusable and in his last 10 games, Thomas has averaged 8.5 points while shooting 34.4 percent. He has not been the same guy since coming back from his calf injury in mid-December. But it's been more than physical. His head hasn't seemed to be in the game like it was earlier this season.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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