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Wizards hold off Nets in overtime to win sixth game in last eight

Wizards hold off Nets in overtime to win sixth game in last eight

The Washington Wizards beat the Brooklyn Nets 119-113 in overtime on Saturday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Nets made it interesting: The Wizards finally broke through on Saturday against the Brooklyn Nets, a team that is objectively no good but for some reason has given Washington serious trouble this season. The Nets won each of their first two meetings, both in Brooklyn, and the first was by 35 points. This time the Wizards took care of business.

It wasn't easy, though. The Wizards went up 25-8 in the first quarter, led by 20 at halftime and 23 at one point in the third, yet the Nets (16-27) kept fighting, perhaps drawing confidence from their previous victories. 

Quincy Acy hit a game-tying three with 9.1 seconds left to force overtime. The Wizards pulled it out in the extra period thanks in part to a pair of big mid-range jumpers by John Wall in the last 40 seconds.

The Wizards' defense in the second half was quite terrible. They allowed 35 points in the third quarter and 33 in the fourth. The Nets closed the fourth on a 16-5 run.

Those points came despite the fact the Wizards switched to their small-ball lineup of Wall (23 points, 16 assists), Beal (24 points, six assists), Kelly Oubre, Jr. (16 points), Otto Porter (12 points, nine rebounds) and Markieff Morris (12 points). Usually that group, dubbed the 'Death Row line-up,' provides a boost on defense, but they couldn't get any stops and overtime was the result.

The Wizards ultimately prevailed and have now won two straight games and six of their last eight. They are 11-5 since Wall returned from injury and 25-18 on the year overall, about a 48-win pace for a full season.

[PODCAST: MIDSEASON AWARDS FOR MVP, BEST WIN AND MORE]

Gortat delivered: Marcin Gortat has had a lot going on these days. On Friday, he found himself embroiled in a mini-controversy stemming from comments he made to the Orlando Sentinel that he wouldn't mind playing for the Magic before his career is over. He then made a point to clear that up after the game. Saturday was Polish Heritage Night at Capital One Arena, which brought droves of Polish-Americans out and all of them were there to see him play.

Gortat came through with a big game. He hit on his first attempt, a turnaround hookshot on the baseline in the first minute, and by halftime had 11 points and eight rebounds. Gortat finished with 16 points and 13 boards.

Here was his best play, a powerful dunk assisted by Wall:

Gortat is a hero back home and Polish Heritage Night always brings extra responsibilities both before and after the game. Judging by his performance, he was able to manage it all quite well.

Oubre lit a spark: Oubre did not have his best game on Friday night against the Magic, as he shot just 4-for-12 from the field and 2-for-7 from three. That included a three pointer in the final minute with 12 seconds left on the shot clock that allowed the Magic to get an extra possession, a decision head coach Scott Brooks was not happy about.

Oubre bounced back nicely with a much more efficient game on Saturday. He hit his first four shots and ended up 5-for-6 from the field and 3-for-4 from three. He couldn't miss, as evidenced by this pull-up three to beat the buzzer at the end of the third:

Though his shooting percentage has fluctuated, Oubre's consistency scoring the ball has been impressive and a big reason why he is arguably the most improved player on the Wizards. He has now reached double figures in points 29 times in 43 appearances. That tied him for third on the Wizards this season with Porter.

Up next: The Wizards are off Sunday before hosting the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday, the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Tipoff is at 2 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. Remember, these teams saw each other just recently on Jan. 6 and in that game Matthew Dellavedova was ejected for pulling Beal to the ground. The rematch should be interesting.

[PODCAST: BRADLEY BEAL ON HIS GROWTH AS A LEADER]

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Markieff Morris

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Markieff Morris

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Markieff Morris' season...

Player: Markieff Morris

Position: Power forward

Age: 28

2017-18 salary: $8 million

2017-18 stats: 73 G, 27.0 mpg, 11.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.9 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.5 bpg, 48.0 FG%, 36.7 3P%, 82.0 FT%, 53.6 eFG%, 116 ORtg, 112 DRtg

Best game: 12/1 vs. Pistons - 23 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, zero turnovers, 10-for-16 FG, 2-for-3 3PT

Season review: It took quite a while for Markieff Morris to get healthy in the 2017-18 season. He was sidelined to begin last offseason with the ankle injury he suffered against the Celtics in the playoffs, then in September had surgery on both his abdomen and groin. The sports hernia surgery was known, while the groin procedure was revealed once the season was over.

Morris only missed nine games in the entire season, but took time to find his rhythm early. He averaged just 9.0 points and 4.4 rebounds in 14 games in the month of November. He picked it up after that, though he never quite reached the level we saw from him in 2016-17 in terms of volume production.

Morris played less minutes, took less shots, scored fewer points and grabbed less rebounds than the season before. On the other hand, he was more efficient than ever. Morris shot 48 percent from the field, his best since 2013-14, and posted career-highs in three-point percentage (36.7) and effective field-goal percentage (53.6). 

The Wizards could use more scoring from Morris moving forward, especially at times when one of their primary options is injured, as was the case in 2017-18 when John Wall missed 41 games. An active and engaged Morris changes everything for the Wizards. 

When Morris scored 15 points or more this season, the Wizards went 15-8. The season before, they went 22-9 when he got to the 15-point mark. 

It's a bit difficult to project Morris' role for the 2018-19 season at this point, given the fact he's entering a contract year and the most logical area for the Wizards to make significant changes (if they choose to) is in their frontcourt. Also, as Morris discussed in his exit interview, he knows more time at center in small-ball sets could be in his future.

Regardless of what happens with the team, it's a huge summer for Morris individually. If he sets himself up well for a big year in 2018-19, he could earn a nice payday in what might be his last long-term contract given his age.

Potential to improve: Rebounding, screens, scoring

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

Marcin Gortat, C

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Marcin Gortat

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Marcin Gortat

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Marcin Gortat's season...

Player: Marcin Gortat

Position: Center

Age: 34

2017-18 salary: $12.8 million

2017-18 stats: 82 G, 25.3 mpg, 8.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.8 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.7 bpg, 51.8 FG%, 67.5 FT%, 51.8 eFG%, 112 ORtg, 107 DRtg

Best game: 10/18 vs. Sixers - 16 points, 17 rebounds, 3 blocks, assist, 7-for-12 FG

Season review: Marcin Gortat is self-aware enough to know that what happened to him in 2017-18 was inevitable in many ways. He even publicly called it before the season.

He was one year older, with Ian Mahinmi healthy and in the rotation, and with the NBA continuing to move towards small-ball and big men who can play on the perimeter. As a result, Gortat saw his role in the Wizards rotation pared down noticeably.

Though he still started all 82 games, his minutes went down from 31.2 per game the year before the 25.3. Kelly Oubre, Jr., who played the majority of the season coming off the bench, logged more minutes than Gortat, though he was a starter.

Gortat's minutes were his fewest since the 2009-10 season, when he was a 25-year-old bench player for the Orlando Magic. His numbers this season followed suit. Gortat's points and rebounds per game were both the lowest since that 2009-10 campaign.

Gortat averaged a career-best 10.4 rebounds per game in 2016-17, but the minutes had a direct effect on his volume of boards. He pulled in 2.4 less per game this season despite his rebound percentage (17.0) being close to his career average (17.5). That career average, by the way, is 30th-best all-time an eighth among active players.

Not getting the same opportunities he had in years past, plus public misunderstandings with teammates, combined to make for a frustrating year for Gortat. He said on the Wizards Tipoff podcast midseason it was the worst year of his career. Gortat, though, did continue to make an impact setting screens for the Wizards and he rallied to finish relatively strong.

He had several solid outings in the playoffs, including his 16 points in Game 3 and his 12 rebounds in Game 5. The question is whether that is the last time we will see Gortat in a Wizards uniform.

Washington has played with the idea of trading Gortat for a while now. He popped up in rumors around the trade deadline in February, but remained on the roster. Now he has an expiring contract working in his favor, making it a bit more likely he gets dealt.

Gortat knows his future in Washington is uncertain, though he said following the season he would like to stay. It would not be surprising to him or anyone if he were traded this summer. If not, he's got one year left with the Wizards and could very well have his role decreased even more.

Potential to improve: Rim protection, midrange shooting, free throw percentage

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

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