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Wizards have been the most consistent NBA team at being inconsistent

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Wizards have been the most consistent NBA team at being inconsistent

The Wizards did something on Saturday in Los Angeles that has been head-scratchingly common for them this season, they lost to an objectively bad team. And, as has become custom, the Wizards led by double-digit points at one juncture and their opponent was missing several key players.

It was a game in which they had no excuse for losing.

"It’s frustrating. It’s a little bit beyond frustrating at this point," guard Bradley Beal said. "Like I just told Tim [Frazier], we should be tired of coming in here and saying ‘on to the next one, on to the next one.’ You run out of games at some point."

Head coach Scott Brooks appears beyond frustrated, as well. After the game he suggested over and over that there were players on his team that didn't show up to play. 

"We need all of our guys ready to play and we didn’t have that this afternoon," he said.

Brooks could have been referring to Kelly Oubre, Jr, or Markieff Morris, who had arguably their worst games of the season, but he wouldn't name names. It doesn't really matter because just about everyone has been a culprit at some point in these letdowns against lesser teams this season.

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The Wizards this season have been the NBA's most enigmatic and least predictable team. They have two very different versions of themselves and what you get appears to heavily depend on who they are playing.

This season the 14-12 Wizards have been markedly worse against losing teams than they have against teams at .500 or with a winning record. Basically, they play well against the good teams and bad against the bad ones. That's the definition of NBA insanity.

In the Eastern Conference, only the Celtics (8-4) and Cavs (7-4) have a better record against teams at .500 above than the Wizards, who are 8-5. That's the positive.

But the Wizards are just 6-7 against teams with losing records. Only the Hawks (5-7) and Bulls (5-9) have been worse in that category among teams in the East and they are terrible. The Wizards are the only NBA team currently with a reverse split of a losing record against losing teams and a winning record against winning teams.

The 2017-18 NBA season is only about a third of the way finished, and things may end up evening out, but the contrast the Wizards are seeing is very rare. No team has finished a season with a reverse split since at least the 2001-02 season (as far back as ESPN.com's expanded NBA standings go).

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It's usually the other way around and to a dramatic extent. Last season, the Wizards were 27-9 against teams with losing records compared to 22-24 vs. those at .500 or better. 

In every NBA season, even some good teams are bad against other good teams. And usually, even bad teams are good against other bad teams. Last season, seven teams that missed the playoffs had winning records against teams below .500, including the Knicks, Sixers and Kings.

This season the Wizards have already lost to the Hornets (9-16), Lakers (10-15), Clippers (9-15), Suns (9-19) and Mavericks (7-19). Their under. 500 difficulties also include defeats against the Jazz (13-14) and the Heat (12-13). Two more and they will match their total losses against sub-.500 teams from all of last season.

Many of the Wizards' games have been close and they are ending up on the wrong side far too often. Their losses against the Lakers, Heat and Clippers were all by three points or less.

No team in the East has had more games decided by three points or less than the Wizards, who are 1-5 in those scenarios. No one else in the East has lost more than three such games.

The Wizards only lost six games decided by three points or less all of last season. They were 9-6 in those games and only two teams won more of them.

The numbers from last year suggest the Wizards will snap out of this at some point, but like Beal said, it should probably happen sooner than later.

"We’ve gotta learn how to put teams away. We’ve gotta learn how to put our foot on the gas," he added. "These are important games and games that we need to win and should have won."

The Wizards keep playing up and down to their opponents and it's leading to a staggering amount of regrettable defeats.

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Rockets will finally trade Carmelo Anthony to Bulls, where they plan to cut him, per reports

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Rockets will finally trade Carmelo Anthony to Bulls, where they plan to cut him, per reports

The Houston Rockets will trade Carmelo Anthony to the Chicago Bulls, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

Anthony, a six-time All-NBA selection and 10-time All-Star, has not played for the Rockets since Nov. 8. Discontent between the two-sides in his first season with the team prevented Anthony from being a piece in a championship contending team. 

However, his tenure on the Bulls will be short lived. K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reports that Chicago will move on from one of the best scorers from the 2000s. Wojnarowski also later reported that the Bulls will cut Anthony.

Upon him getting cut by the Bulls, Anthony will become a free agent (again) if he clears waivers. Chicago at 11-38 is a team that appears to be tanking for the 2019 NBA Draft and look to be moving assets to prepare for a push this summer.

Before the Rockets refusal to play Anthony, he averaged 13.4 points on 40.5 percent shooting and 32.8 percent from deep in 10 games.

If Anthony is willing to take a pay cut, another playoff team could be looking to bolster their depth.

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Wizards blow out Detroit Pistons to gain important ground in East playoff race

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Wizards blow out Detroit Pistons to gain important ground in East playoff race

The Washington Wizards beat the Detroit Pistons 101-87 on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Here are five observations from the game...

1. If the Wizards can keep up their recent winning ways and remain in the playoff mix at the end of this season, what they did on Monday could come in handy either for seeding or making the postseason altogether. 

They knocked off the Detroit Pistons to move into ninth place in the East, one spot outside of the playoff picture, and tied the season series at 1-1. The season series between the teams, ever-important for tiebreaker scenarios, will come down to their final matchup of the season on Feb. 11.

If Monday's game was any longterm indication, the Wizards should feel good about their chances to outpace the Pistons. They were the better team, offering a thorough beatdown on both ends of the floor. It helped the Pistons were missing Andre Drummond, but the Wizards are down three key players themselves.

Those injuries just haven't held the Wizards back like many expected they would. The Wizards are now 7-3 since they learned John Wall would miss the rest of the season due to left heel surgery. They moved to 20-26 on the year, the closest they've been to the .500 mark since Dec. 16.

2. The Wizards' defense has been something else recently. Despite arguably being the worst defensive team in the NBA overall this season, they have completely flipped the script in recent games. They came into this one boasting the eighth-best defensive rating over their past nine games.

It continued early against the Pistons who, to be fair, are among the worst offensive teams in the game. The Wizards allowed only 34 points in the first half, the fewest they have surrendered in any half this season. The Pistons shot just 30 percent from the field and 2-for-15 from three and had nine turnovers in the first half. Detroits 87 points were the fewest the Wizards have given up in a game this season.

Those 34 points first-half broke the season-low the Wizards set just last game against the Knicks in London, where they gave up 37 points in the second half in their win. That means the Wizards gave up only 71 points across four quarters, the equivalent of a full game. 

The Wizards' defense has been on point in recent games. Now, let's see if they can do it against the Warriors on Thursday.

3. Any concerns about the Wizards losing momentum from the London trip were quickly put to rest. Seven players reached double figures and shot a solid 45.6 percent.

Tomas Satoransky (nine points, eight assists, two steals) appears to be taking another step as a ball-handler. He is way more assertive attacking the rim that we had seen in previous years. On several occasions in this game, he blew past defenders and finished with spin moves around the rim.

Otto Porter Jr. (19 points) is also playing with more confidence, now in an increased scoring role. On numerous plays in this game, he called for the ball, sensing a mismatch, often against Jose Calderon or Luke Kennard.

4. Wizards head coach Scott Brooks remarked at Sunday's practice that he has been pleasantly surprised with how Trevor Ariza can fill up the box score. He said he knew the guy could play defense but didn't know he was so well-rounded as a scorer and in other areas of the game. 

Monday was a perfect example of that. Ariza finished with 20 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and zero turnovers. He shot 7-for-13 from the field, 2-for-5 from three and 4-for-4 from the line.

He also, of course, was instrumental in the Wizards' strong defensive effort. He continues to make the impact the Wizards hoped for when they traded him as a tone-setting pest on the perimeter.

It may have taken a few games for that to reflect in the standings, and he needs to get his shooting percentages up, but he has clearly helped change the team's DNA defensively and is no slouch on the offensive end, either. He is averaging 14.7 points through 16 games with the Wizards, about three more per contest than he was with the Suns.

5. The Pistons playing without Drummond allowed the Wizards to find a lot of success on the boards. In their last meeting, they were out-rebounded by the Pistons, 46-31, but this time they won the rebounding margin, 45-to-40. 

The Wizards have been among the worst rebounding teams in basketball this season, but when they commit to the glass, they are tough to beat. They are now 11-0 in games where they out-rebound their opponents.

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