If there has been one blemish, one reason to nitpick about the Wizards lately during their 10-5 run without John Wall it has been their newfound propensity to turn the ball over.
On Friday night against the Raptors, even the usually-protective Tomas Satoransky and Otto Porter got involved.
Satoransky, who is fifth in the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio and averages only 1.0 per game, had six. That doubled his previous career-high and four of them came in the first half alone.
Porter, who is fourth in the NBA in turnover percentage, had two turnovers, more than double his season average of 0.9 per game.
The Wizards as a whole committed 18 turnovers against the Raptors and those mistakes led to 27 points on the other end. Compare that to the Raptors' seven turnovers, which led to just five Wizards points, and you see a major difference in the game, which the Wizards lost 102-95.
"They were physical," head coach Scott Brooks said. "They're a good defensive team. They got some of that. They put their hands on us and we allow that by not setting our screens up, not setting good screens. You can't let them dictate how we play offense."
As for Satoransky, Brooks called his turnovers "unselfish." He said the point guard was trying to force the issue to make plays for others and the Raptors, who third in defensive efficiency, took away passing lanes.
Satoransky put the spotlight on himself.
“I think it was bad decision making, especially on my part. I have to do a much better job," he said. "There were some bad mistakes I usually don’t do. I gotta definitely take care of that."
As Satoransky and others noted, this was the continuation of a recent trend. In these 15 games without Wall, the Wizards are fifth-worst in the NBA in turnovers, averaging 14.9 per game. Since Jan. 1, they are sixth-worst, so it goes back long before Wall went down.
The Wizards had previously been quite good at protecting the ball. They were sixth-best in the NBA in December.
After the loss to the Raptors, the Wizards offered different theories for why they are trending the other way. Brooks said it relates to their recent increase in passing the ball.
"Well there's definitely a lot of moving pieces and parts and we were trying to make some more ball movement and we're slipping up a little bit too many times," Brooks said.
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Ball movement has been a big reason for the Wizards' recent surge, but opponents are starting to adapt according to Satoransky.
"I think the teams are also changing the scouting on us and changing a little bit of the defenses. We gotta be smarter in decision making," he said.
Granted, their last two losses have come against the Raptors and the Warriors, two of the best teams and defenses in the NBA. Bradley Beal, however, thinks there is an adjustment they can make.
“We just need to be simple. Sometimes we try to make the homerun play, or a play that’s not there, or get the assist, or whatever it may be," he said. "All we have to do is move the ball, share it and shoot it. Shoot it when you’re open and if you don’t shoot it when you’re open, that’s when the turnovers allow to happen."
If the Wizards limited their turnovers against the Raptors, they may have won. They only lost by seven points despite a major discrepancy in the category. Brooks knows how little can separate NBA teams on a given night and hopes to fix the problem soon.
"It's costing us ball games," he said.." Eighteen as a team, 27 points off of those turnovers. That's tough when you're playing the best team in basketball in the East.”