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Wizards fall to Jazz for second time this season, as turnovers kill them

Wizards fall to Jazz for second time this season, as turnovers kill them

The Washington Wizards lost to the Utah Jazz 107-104 on Wednesday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Revenge will have to wait: This wasn't as bad as their 47-point defeat to the Jazz on Dec. 4, but it wasn't great, either. This time the Jazz were missing Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors, their two best big men and still the Wizards still couldn't take advantage. 

The Wizards have now lost two straight games for the first time since Dec. 12. Before this stretch, they were rolling with four straight wins, a season-high streak. 

This one will hurt more than Saturday night's loss to the Bucks. On the whiteboard in the Wizards' locker room before Wednesday's game read the phrase '47 pts' and it was in three different colors, meaning whomever wrote it went over it twice again. It was in reference to the first meeting between these teams, on Dec. 4 when the Jazz blasted the Wizards by 47 points, the second-biggest margin of defeat in Wizards/Bullets franchise history.

The Wizards were determined to issue a correction, but they could not. And in many ways, they beat themselves.

Washington dropped to 23-18 at the exact midway point of the season. Given their struggles against sub-.500 teams, it was perhaps fitting they lost to one in this game. They are still on pace for 46 wins, but they know they could have a better record if they took care of business against the lesser opponents.

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All of the turnovers: The Wizards played well in some aspects of the game, but they were sloppy with ball control and Utah took advantage. The Wizards tied a season-high with 23 turnovers in the game and allowed 27 points off of them.

The problems really started in the second quarter when they had seven turnovers after just two in the first. They had 18 by the end of the third quarter.

There were a few culprits, but none more than John Wall, who had eight to offset his otherwise impressive night of 35 points, 11 assists, six rebounds, three steals and a block. Bradley Beal had five turnovers to spoil his 23 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre, Jr. each had two giveaways.

Otto returned: The Wizards had Porter back in their starting lineup after he missed their last game and part of the previous one with a right hip strain and tight back. It's something Porter deals with periodically.

He didn't miss a beat while he was out, despite sitting for four days. Porter scored the Wizards' first points of the game and had nine in his first nine minutes on 4-for-5 from the field.

Porter's mobility wasn't limited at all and that was very evident on this play in particular. Porter used a quick spin move to get to the rim for two:

Porter slowed down significantly in the second half and finished with 14 points and six rebounds, but his game overall was encouraging.

Rubio, for real?: Jazz guard Ricky Rubio is one of the worst shooters in the NBA. He entered the game hitting just 39.2 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from three. But you wouldn't have known it on Wednesday, as Rubio came out hot and hit his first four shots. He hit his first two threes, as well. Early on he was the only one scoring for the Jazz and led them at halftime with 12 points. 

Rubio was held back a bit in the second half, as he totaled 21 points. But his first half outburst did not reflect well on the Wizads' defense. Some of the shots were contested, but some were open looks that most NBA players can knock down. It's a fine line between letting a guy who can't shoot have space and giving him too much space, but the Wizards may have crossed it.

Meeks continues to struggle: The Wizards are giving Jodie Meeks every opportunity they can to get him going. Given his strong track record as an outside shooter, they remain confident he can shoot his way out of what has been a season-long slump. But once again he barely made an impact despite getting several open looks.

Meeks played 17 minutes, but finished with zero points on 0-for-4 shooting. He entered the game shooting just 35.6 percent from the field and 31.3 percent from three.

With under a month to go until the trade deadline, his position seems to be the only one they could upgrade with a minor move. They will keep giving him chances, but at some point he needs to break through or else it wouldn't be a surprise if they targeted backup shooting guard at the deadline. Beal needs someone to take some minutes off his workload.

Up next: The Wizards are off Thursday before playing a back-to-back set at home. They host the Orlando Magic on Friday night with a 7 p.m. tipoff on NBC Sports Washington.

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NBA offseason grades: With Kawhi Leonard, Raptors shined most in Atlantic Division

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NBA offseason grades: With Kawhi Leonard, Raptors shined most in Atlantic Division

Here is a look at how the 2018 NBA offseason went for teams in the Atlantic Division...

Toronto Raptors, B+

2017-18 finish: 59-23, 2nd round of playoffs
In: F Kawhi Leonard, G Danny Green, C Greg Monroe
Out: G DeMar DeRozan, C Jakub Poeltl, C Lucas Nogueira

The Raptors had one of the more consequential offseasons of any NBA team this year. First, they fired Dwane Casey, the 2017-18 NBA Coach of the Year, following a season in which they won 59 games. Then, they pulled off the biggest trade of the summer, a deal that featured two perennial All-NBA players. They let go of DeRozan and brought in Leonard in return. If they hadn't parted with DeRozan and Casey, they may have gotten an A. But it's hard to tell how much better they will be following the deal and Leonard does bring with him some concerns based on his quadriceps injury and the fact he has only one year left on his contract. The Raptors do, however, also get points for re-signing point guard Fred VanVleet.

Boston Celtics, C

2017-18 finish: 55-27, conference finals
In: C Robert Williams, G Brad Wanamaker
Out: C Greg Monroe

One year ago, the Celtics flipped nearly their entire roster and brought in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. This year, they mostly stood pat and didn't add much of anything in free agency or trades. Their biggest acquisition was Williams, who they took 27th overall in the first round of the draft. The Celtics will hope they improve from within. They re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes, and should get Irving and Hayward back from injuries. They should have plenty of talent to compete for an NBA Finals berth, but as far as this offseason goes, they didn't do much.

Philadelphia 76ers, D+

2017-18 finish: 52-30, 2nd round of playoffs
In: F Wilson Chandler, C Mike Muscala, G Zhaire Smith, G Landry Shamet
Out: G Marco Belinelli, F Ersan Ilyasova

Where do we begin? This summer was about as dramatic and bad as it could get for the Sixers. First, they had to fire their general manager because of a burner Twitter account scandal. Then, they struck out miserably in free agency with LeBron James and Paul George, and in trade talks for Leonard. After that, Smith - their first round pick - hurt his foot. And along the way, Ben Simmons has been dating a Kardashian, flirting with the curse that has claimed many pro athletes before him. Philly did re-sign J.J. Redick and Johnson, and the Chandler trade was nice, but all in all it was an offseason that fell way short of the Sixers' expectations. That said, they can still get way better next season based solely on their young players taking another step.

New York Knicks, B

2017-18 finish: 29-53, missed playoffs
In: F Mario Hezonja, F Kevin Knox, F Noah Vonleh, C Mitchell Robinson
Out: F Michael Beasley, G Jarrett Jack, F Kyle O'Quinn

It's been a while since the Knicks had an offseason to write home about and this one is no exception. There was nothing they did that would flirt with an A-grade. However, the early returns on their draft are excellent. Knox and Robinson were both standouts in the Summer League and offer fans a little bit more hope about the team's future. As long as Kristaps Porzingis can return this season safe and sound from his ACL tear, the Knicks could take a step forward in 2018-19.

Brooklyn Nets, C+

2017-18 finish: 28-54, missed playoffs
In: F Ed Davis, F Kenneth Faried, F Jared Dudley
Out: F Dante Cunningham, G Nik Stauskas, C Jahlil Okafor

The best news about the Nets' offseason is that their trade with the Celtics, the one that stripped them of years of first round picks, is finally over. Next year, the Nets will have a first round pick. This summer, they once again didn't add any major pieces in the draft, but seemed to make some smart moves in free agency. The Davis deal is solid and Faried may benefit from a change of scenery. More baby steps for Brooklyn.

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NBA offseason grades: Wizards, Magic highlight Southeast Division

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USA TODAY Sports

NBA offseason grades: Wizards, Magic highlight Southeast Division

Here is a look at how the 2018 NBA offseason went for teams in the Southeast Division...

Washington Wizards, B+

2017-18 finish: 43-39, 1st round of playoffs
In: C Dwight Howard, G Austin Rivers, G Troy Brown, Jr., F Jeff Green, C Thomas Bryant
Out: C Marcin Gortat, F Mike Scott, G Ty Lawson, G Tim Frazier, G Ramon Sessions, F Chris McCullough

Given the circumstances of their salary cap situation, the Wizards did quite well for themselves this summer. They shook things up by trading Gortat and actually got something solid back for him in Rivers. They then filled Gortat's spot with an eight-time All-Star in Howard and did so at a bargain price, the taxpayer mid-level exception. They also added Green at a nice price and Brown, who acquitted himself nicely in the Summer League. Whether the Wizards made a major leap forward is debatable, but the potential is there for them to re-install themselves as contenders in the East. The possibility things go wrong is also there, but all in all, a strong summer for the Wizards.

Atlanta Hawks, B

2017-18 finish: 24-58, missed playoffs
In: G Jeremy Lin, C Alex Len, G Trae Young, G Vince Carter, G Kevin Huerter, F Justin Anderson, F Omari Spellman
Out: G Dennis Schroeder, C Mike Muscala, C Dewayne Dedmon, G Malcolm Delaney, G Isaiah Tayor

The Hawks did a nice job with the draft by picking up an extra first round pick just to move back two spots (from third to fifth) in their trade with the Mavericks. They added Young with the fifth pick and then got Huerter later on at No. 18. The Len signing at two years and $8.5 million looks like a bargain and they added a nice mix of veteran free agents and young players to develop. It will probably be a few years before the Hawks are back in the playoffs, but they seemed to take a step forward this summer.

Miami Heat, D

2017-18 finish: 44-38, 1st round of playoffs
In: F Duncan Robinson
Out: G Dwyane Wade, G Wayne Ellington, F Luke Babbitt

The Heat had one of the least impactful summers of any team in the NBA. The biggest addition they have so far, and this is true, is Robinson. They didn't make any draft picks and struck out in free agency. What they did do is let go of Wade, Ellington and others. The only way the Heat improve year-over-year is if their young guys like Bam Adebayo or Justise Winslow take a big step forward. 

Charlotte Hornets, C+

2017-18 finish: 36-46, missed playoffs
In: C Bismack Biyombo, F Miles Bridges, G Devonte' Graham
Out: C Dwight Howard, G Michael Carter-Williams, G Treveon Graham

New Hornets GM Mitch Kupchak quickly turned the franchise into a different direction this offseason by trading Howard to the Nets. They then added Biyombo in a deal with the Magic and acquired Bridges through the draft. There isn't a lot to love or hate about the Hornets' offseason, so they fall in the middle of the grading scale. The real question now is what they do with Kemba Walker, who has just one year left on his contract.

Orlando Magic, B+

2017-18 finish: 25-57, missed playoffs
In: C Mohamed Bamba, C Timofey Mozgov, F Justin Jackson, F Jarell Martin, G Jerian Grant
Out: G Mario Hezonja, C Marreese Speights, G Arron Aflalo

The Magic had a strong summer. The re-signed forward Aaron Gordon, a rising young player, and drafted Bamba, who has the tools to become an All-Star and a dominant defensive force. They had some questionable moves, like trading for Mozgov, but the future looks a lot brighter for the Magic than it did just a few months ago.

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