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Wizards use defense to beat Heat and win fourth straight game

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Wizards use defense to beat Heat and win fourth straight game

The Washington Wizards beat the Miami Heat 102-93 on Wednesday night at American Airlines Arena.

Here's analysis of what went down...

Defense won this one:

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks and his players often say defense is extra important because it can lead to wins on nights when their offense isn't clicking. On Wednesday night, that is exactly what happened.

Now, the Wizards still managed a respectable 102 points, but they shot just 41 percent and in the third quarter only scored 10. Meanwhile, on defense, the Wizards held the Heat to 93 points and 41.6 percent shooting.

The Wizards have now kept their opponents to less than 100 points in four straight games. That matches their longest such streak since the 2014-15 season.

The Wizards have won all four of those games in what is their longest winning streak of the season so far. It has been a nice response by Washington after their ugly loss to the Mavericks just over a week ago.

One could argue Miami (6-8) is much better than their record. This was among the Wizards' best wins of the season so far. It was one thing to do it against Atlanta and Sacramento, but the Heat could be in the playoffs come April.

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Wall, Keef took off early:

John Wall entered this game banged up, having sprained his ankle in the Wizards' win over the Kings on Monday to go along with a slew of ailments already holding him back. He wasn't hampered by it one bit.

Wall had 16 points in the first half, eight in each of the first two quarters. And just like Monday, Wall caught fire early from three. He hit his first two shots from long range.

Wall's best highlight, though, resulted in a missed shot.

It was this nutmeg of Hassan Whiteside on the fastbreak:

That's just disrespectful.

Wall, though, slowed down a bit in the second half. He finished with 27 points and six assists on 9-for-21 from the field.

Markieff Morris also got off to a hot start. He had 10 points in his first seven minutes including two threes. He ended up with 15 points in 22 minutes before he not only fouled out, but also got ejected with a second technical. Not often you see that, but when you're already out of the game, might as well give the refs an earful.

RELATED: C-MILLS' ROAD DIARIES FROM MIAMI

Bad third quarter:

The Wizards held a 12-point lead at halftime, but quickly saw things unravel in the third. The Heat outscored the Wizards 25-10 in the frame with the Wizards shooting just 4-for-19 from the field. It was their worst quarter of the season without question. 

Goran Dragic got hot and scored nine points in the third, but this one was all on the Wizards' offense. They couldn't get anything going and it was ugly.

Dragic kept going in the fourth. He took advantage of a mismatch in size against Tim Frazier on several possessions. At one point he posted up Frazier and banked in a turnaround jumper with ease. Dragic ended up with 21 points.

Off-night for Gortat:

Marcin Gortat had a long night dealing with Whiteside down low in this one. While Whiteside had a strong game with 14 points and 21 rebounds, Gortat was held to just two points and five rebounds. He never found a rhythm offensively as the Heat did a good job defending the Wizards' pick-and-roll, which is usually automatic. Gortat finished 0-for-6 from the field.

Gortat was very upset with himself after some recent games where he was outmatched on the boards. He won't be happy with this one, either.

Up next:

The Wizards return home only to see the Heat again. They host Miami on Friday with a 7 p.m. tipoff on NBC Sports Washington.

 

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Wizards' second pre-draft workout highlights quest for shooting, raises question at point guard

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Wizards' second pre-draft workout highlights quest for shooting, raises question at point guard


The Wizards held their second pre-draft workout at Capital One Arena on Wednesday and the theme of this session was shooting. They hosted six players, four of which shot 40 percent or better for their college careers. Not 40 percent for their final season, like they developed a shot over the years, 40 percent for their careers.

Those four would be Aaron Holiday of UCLA, a likely first-round pick, plus likely second-round picks Devonte' Graham and Sviatoslave Mykhailiuk of Kansas, and Zach Thomas of Bucknell who may go undrafted.

One of the outliers was Moe Wagner of Michigan, who shot 39.4 percent as a junior. The other was Johnathan Williams, who shot 33.3 percent from long range in college, but impressed in the workout by knocking down more shots than expected.

Wizards executives raved about the amount of made shots in this workout and the players they chose to host help demonstrate that shooting is a need the Wizards are hoping to address. Head coach Scott Brooks said as much in his final meeting with the media following their playoff loss.

Here are some notes on the players that addressed reporters on Wednesday...

Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

 - The brother of NBA players Jrue and Justin, Holiday said he is aiming to find the same success as them at the professional level. Both are good defensive players and Holiday said that is a big part of his game: 

"No pressure at all. I'm here to make my own name for myself... We all like to play defense... I just try to watch how they read guys and force guys into bad plays."

Holiday was informed his brother, Jrue, had just been named All-Defense. He was happy for him, of course.

"That's awesome. That's actually really good. I thought he would do it, too. Obviously, he's a great defender. Both of my brothers do well."

 - Bringing in Holiday was interesting because he is expected to be a first round pick and plays point guard. The Wizards, of course, already have an All-Star point guard in John Wall. Holiday acknowledged that fact, but believes he can play with both Wall and All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal:

"It was obviously a question of why they would want me, but at the same time I know they need help on the backend, coming off the bench and playing high minutes and producing while John and them aren't on the court. Or, even playing with John Wall out there... with John and Bradley Beal out there, I could space the court pretty well for them."

Holiday would have no problem beginning his career as a bench player, if that's what happens:

"If the coach tells me to come off the bench, play a lot of minutes and get other people involved, that's what I will do. I also can play off the ball as well. I think I fit pretty good."

The Wizards taking a point guard in the first round is not that crazy of an idea. They have long been in need of a viable backup point guard and Fred VanVleet of the Raptors showed how much a really good backup can help.

Moritz Wagner, C, Michigan

 - Wagner worked out with the Bulls first and has the Nets up next. He said the Wizards workout was more intense than the Bulls, which is something we heard from many prospects last year. Washington apparently puts a greater emphasis on physical conditioning than other teams.

 - A native of Germany, and a seven-footer who shoots threes, naturally Wagner grew up a big fan of Mavs great Dirk Nowitzki:

"He was kind of our MJ. He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball. He's from where I'm from, too. It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

 - Questions for Wagner surround his defense and whether he can protect the rim, as he wasn't a shot-blocker in college. Wagner said he is hoping to show teams how his mobility can help on that end of the floor:

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen. Especially with the way the league is going; switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Devonte' Graham, G, Kansas

 - Graham also worked out with the Bulls first. He has the Suns, Hawks, Rockets and Grizzlies up next. He expects to work out for 13 or 14 teams in total.

 - Graham is from Raleigh, just like Wall who was in attendance. Wall and Graham sat next to each other to chat after the workout was over:

"We're from the [area code] 919 and we all stick together. I hit him up last night."

 - Graham also knows Wizards forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. very well. They were roommates as freshmen at Kansas:

"He was a goofy dude. That was my boy, though."

 - Graham said he has been talking to Jazz star rookie Donovan Mitchell about the draft process, as he and Mitchell share the same agent.

MORE WIZARDS: 

- Diallo visits: Is the Kentucky star a good fit?
- Turgeon talks: Maryland coach talks 2018 draft
- NBA mock draft: Post combine edition

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Ian Mahinmi

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Ian Mahinmi

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

Player: Ian Mahinmi

Position: Center

Age: 31

2017-18 salary: $15.9 million

2017-18 stats: 77 G, 14.9 mpg, 4.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.5 bpg, 55.6 FG%, 00.0 3P%, 70.3 FT%, 55.6 eFG%, 107 ORtg, 107 DRtg

Best game: 1/12 vs. Magic - 17 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, steal, assist, 7-for-8 FG, 3-for-4 FT

Season review: After missing 51 games in the 2016-17 season, the first of his four-year contract with the Wizards, center Ian Mahinmi managed to stay healthy for the entirety of 2017-18. He appeared in 77 games and gave the Wizards a good look at the player they signed to a $64 million deal in free agency.

Mahinmi was a mainstay in the Wizards' rotation as their backup center. While Marcin Gortat started all 82 games at center, Mahinmi at times got the nod late in games as head coach Scott Brooks favored his defense.

Though Mahinmi was available all season, he still fell short of the numbers he put up in his last year in Indiana, in 2015-16. Mahinmi's minutes per game were his fewest since 2010-11, and his points and rebounds were his fewest since 2013-14. 

Mahinmi's numbers were affected by his low minutes, as he could never quite crack the top six or seven spots in Brooks' rotation. His numbers per 36 minutes, however, were on par with how he played in Indiana before the Wizards signed him to a big contract.

2015-16 per 36: 13.1 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 1.5 bpg, 1.3 spg

2017-18 per 36: 11.5 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 1.3 bpg, 1.2 spg

That, of course, only means so much. Mahinmi may have been relatively efficient with his minutes, but the consistency wasn't there to convince Brooks and the coaching staff to increase his role.

It will be interesting to see what the team plans for Mahinmi next season, as this summer could bring changes to their frontcourt. Both of their starting big men - Gortat and Markieff Morris - have one year left on their contracts. If Gortat in particular is dealt, that could open the door for Mahinmi to earn more playing time.

The Wizards could also add to their frontcourt through the draft. If they get a rim-protecting big man in the first round, that could be bad news for Mahinmi's playing time. Like several Wizards players, Mahinmi's role is up in the air entering this summer.

Potential to improve: Finishing around rim, consistency, limiting fouls

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

Tomas Satoransky, PG

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