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Wizards notch first Summer League win behind big games from Brown, Robinson and Bryant


Wizards notch first Summer League win behind big games from Brown, Robinson and Bryant

The long and arduous three-game wait for the Wizards' first Summer League victory is finally over, as Washington took out the Sixers 87-75 in their Las Vegas regular season finale on Monday night.

Okay, the final result is pretty much meaningless, but once again they saw impressive games from their top prospects.

Troy Brown, Jr., Devin Robinson and Thomas Bryant outshined the Sixers youngsters to combine for 61 points.

Here's analysis of the Wizards' win...

Robinson is coming into his own: What a difference one year can make. Robinson, who spent most of his rookie season in the G-League, has returned to the Summer League a noticeably better player. He was borderline dominant in this one, finishing with 22 points in just 30 minutes.

His efficiency was remarkable as the Sixers had no answer to stop him. He made 8-of-10 shots from the field, including 2-for-4 from three. He also had two assists, two rebounds, a steal and a block.

Much of what Robinson is doing is rooted in his superior athleticism, but some of his developing skills are shining through. He is much more adept off the dribble and is even working in a stepback jumper. He's still workshopping it, however, as one of his stepback shots resulted in a traveling call.

Robinson can fly down the court and is aggressive attacking the rim. With his length and rare leaping ability, he is putting a lot of pressure on opposing defenses in the lane. And his ability to step out and hit threes has been a big asset for the Wizards.

This was one of his best plays on Monday, a corner three to beat the shot clock buzzer:

Brown stuffs the stat sheet: It was another strong outing for Brown, who put up 23 points to go along with eight rebounds and two assists. He even hit his first three of the Summer League, a stepback triple from way outside:

One thing that continues to stand out about Brown is his touch around the rim. He has a nice hook shot and floater. In this game, he knocked down a sweet runner from about seven feet out midway through the third quarter.

Another thing that Brown has shown is a willingness to take risks passing the ball. Sometimes that results in turnovers, but he is always trying to thread the needle and it's going to result in some highlights when he connects.

Brown, for the record, thoroughly outplayed Zhaire Smith, the guy picked one spot behind him in last year's draft. Smith was a non-factor with two points in 23 minutes on 1-for-9 shooting and two turnovers.

Young Bryant has a high I.Q.: It's tough to project what Thomas Bryant can do for the Wizards in the NBA next season by watching these games because he has such a size advantage over many of his opponents and is playing in his second year in the league. Some of the stuff he is doing around the rim might be easily defended by veterans in the NBA.

But what is clear about Bryant is that he is a smart player for his age. He doesn't make the dumb mistakes one might expect from a 20-year-old known for his athleticism and high ceiling. He is fundamentally sound and seems to know his limitations and stay within them.

Bryant had 16 points and 12 rebounds in the win. His best play was this block:

Kendley can fly: Tiwian Kendley, an undrafted guard from Morgan State University in Maryland, has shown he has the athleticism to belong at the NBA level. He didn't have a great game, as he scored nine points but needed eight shots to get there, but there's no question the guy has speed and can leap.

Kendley blows past defenders in the fastbreak on the regular and on this play finished with a nice slam:

His athleticism alone may be reason to give him a spot on the G-League roster, just to see what he turns into.




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Rebounding issues arise again in Wizards' season opening loss to the Miami Heat

Rebounding issues arise again in Wizards' season opening loss to the Miami Heat

Realistically, the Miami Heat had no business even being in position to win on Thursday night in the Wizards' 2018-19 regular season opener.

They shot just 39.2 percent from the field, compared to 46.9 percent for the Wizards, and had 19 turnovers. 

The Heat were on the second night of a back-to-back, having lost a tough one to the Magic the night before. They were missing a host of rotation players, including two of their regular starters.

Yet, the Heat pulled out a victory to stun the Opening Night crowd at Capital One Arena simply because they out-hustled the Wizards. They out-rebounded the Wizards 55-40, including a 22-7 margin in offensive boards. Those 22 offensive rebounds were tied for the most allowed by the Wizards since 2012.

"Rebounding the ball is really why we lost the game," Wizards guard John Wall said. "That's really where they killed us."

Miami's advantage on the glass allowed them to put up a whopping 16 more shots. That led to 27 second chance points compared to just 10 for Washington.

It was the central theme of the game, so naturally it played a role in how it was decided. After Wall forced a miss by Dwyane Wade on a fadeaway attempt in the closing seconds, Heat big man Kelly Olynyk was right there to catch the ball and scoop it in for two.

That score proved to be the go-ahead points as just 0.2 seconds remained on the clock. All night, the Wizards made plays on defense, only to have the Heat save themselves with second looks.

The Wizards had no better explanation postgame other than Miami simply tried harder.

"They out-hustled us," forward Jeff Green said.

"Rebounds come down to whoever wants it the most and tonight they wanted it more than we did," forward Otto Porter Jr. said.

It sounds simple, and perhaps it was indeed that easy to explain. But there were other factors at play, some in their control and some not.

For one, the Wizards were missing their best rebounder, Dwight Howard, who sat out with a strained piriformis muscle. Even at 32, Howard remains one of the best rebounders in basketball and would have made a significant difference. 

It would have been nice to have him, a 280-pound giant in the paint to match up with Hassan Whiteside, one of the most physically imposing centers in the league.

With Howard out of the mix, the Wizards turned to Ian Mahinmi and Jason Smith, but they each stumbled into early foul trouble. Head coach Scott Brooks had no other option than to go small with guys like Green and Markieff Morris at the five-spot.

Brooks wants to employ that strategy more often anyways, but not by necessity. And sure enough, it was Green and Morris on the floor when Olynyk broke loose for the final deciding play.

"The last rebound, we definitely need to put most of the ownership on me and Jeff because we were the biggest guys," Morris said. "I think that might have been the easiest layup of the game right there."

"I was surprised I was open," Olynyk admitted afterwards. "It kinda just popped open and I was kinda just standing right there."

Though many factors were at play, the Wizards' struggles rebounding the ball came down to the simple fundamentals of boxing out their opponent. As they learned last year, it's tough to be consistent when you can't take care of the little things that separate wins and losses. 



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After his buzzer beater, Kelly Olynyk is becoming one of D.C.'s top sports villains

After his buzzer beater, Kelly Olynyk is becoming one of D.C.'s top sports villains

Kelly Olynyk has done it once again to the Washington Wizards. 

The Miami Heat center ripped the heart of the Wizards just when it looked like it was going to be a new chapter for the team.

After leading a team to victory over the Wizards once again, he is starting to become one of the biggest sports villains in Washington D.C.

Olynyk hit a go-ahead layup with 0.2. second left to sink the Wizards in their 2018 season opener. Dwyane Wade had the first chance to win it for the Heat. He missed, but Olynyk was there for the rebound and uncontested layup.

For those that need a reminder this is not the first time Olynyk has torched the Wizards. 

Back in Game 7 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Olynyk, then the Boston Celtics backup center, went off for 26 points, 14 coming in a tense fourth quarter. The loss ended the Wizards chance to get to the Conference Finals that year. If would have been the first time they reach that mark in the John Wall-era of the franchise.

Olynyk was also guilty of getting under the skin of Kelly Oubre Jr. The Wizards forward was sent to the floor following a big screen set by Olynyk. Oubre sprang to his feet and shoved Olynyk, leading to a minor scuffle. Oubre was ejected from the game and suspended for the following game.

With a reputation like that, Olynyk is starting to etch his name down on the wrong side of D.C. sports lore.

Who does Olynyk join among the ranks of most disliked athletes inside the D.M.V.? Here's our list:

Sidney Crosby

To the vast majority of Washington, D.C. sports fans, no one will ever be a bigger villain than Sidney Crosby. His rivalry with Alex Ovechkin is a major part of this, but being on the winning side more often than the Washington Capitals plays just as big a part. Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins eliminated the Capitals in three different Eastern Conference Semifinal series before Washington finally broke through last season.

Also it's Crosby. His incessant whinning and cockiness are overwhelming. 

Jaroslav Halak

At the time he was just an average goalie for the Montreal Canadiens, but by the end of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Jaroslav Halak was public enemy No. 1 in the nation's capital.

Against a Capitals team that won the Presidents Trophy, Halak stood on his head as the No. 8 seed Canadiens faced elimination with the Caps up 3-1 in the series. He had 37 saves in Game 5, an incredible 53 saves in Game 6, and clinched the series with 41 saves in Game 7. He allowed just three goals in those three games, and sent the Capitals packing earlier than expected.

Had it not been for Halak, the first Washington Capitals championship might have happened well before June 2018.

Jerry Jones

He owns the Dallas Cowboys. Need we say more? 

Jonathan Papelbon

For years Jonathan Papelbon was on the Philadelphia Phillies. That alone would be enough to be on the bad side of D.C. sports fans.

Then he came to Washington, as a member of the Nationals, and tried to choke-out Bryce Harper

An insider job? We think so. 

Albert Haynesworth

Albert Haynesworth drew a seven-year, $100 million contract with the Washington Redskins. He ended up playing less than two seasons. 

He was so bad that NFL.com has listed him as one of the worst free agents signings in league history.

There are two things Albert Haynesworth is remembered for in Washington, D.C.
1: Taking a lot of money from the Redskins
2: This video 

Pete Kozma

Only on this list because some believe that Pete Kozma is the sole reason the Washington Nationals did not win a championship in 2012.

Aside from a three-run home run and then the game-winning runs in Game 5 of the NLDS, there has not been another chapter in the Kozma vs. Washington D.C. rivalry.

The real villain in all of this should be the Nats' pitcher, Drew Storen. He had a two-run lead before coming into the ninth in a winner-take-all Game 5. He gave the Cardinals four runs.


So now that I've gone and despressed your day away, re-living terrible D.C. sports nightmares, just know that Olynyk is squarely on this list and just re-affirmed that with his latest buzzer-beater.