Celtics at Wizards Final Score: Irving scores 38 in overtime thriller, drops Washington 130-125

Sometimes you just have to tip your cap.

Kyrie Irving scored a game-high 38 points with none bigger than a deep three-pointer in overtime with just seconds remaining to put the Celtics up for good as Boston drops Washington, 130-125.

In what turned out to be a vintage John Wall game, Wall flirted with a triple-double as he dropped 34 points to go along with 13 assists and 6 rebounds. Kelly Oubre continued his hot December with 20 points off the bench while Bradley Beal and Jeff Green added 22 a piece but it wouldn’t be enough to overcome Boston’s late-game execution down the stretch.

After getting outscored 38-22 in the third quarter and trailing 84-77, it looked like Washington was toast. But that’s when John Wall and the Wizards woke up. Washington opened the fourth quarter on an 8-0 run to regain the lead 85-84 in the blink of an eye. Wall re-entered the game and asserted himself right away with a lob to Thomas Bryant for the dunk bringing a buzz to Capital One Arena.

And that’s when the point guard duel began. John Wall and Kyrie Irving have had many epic battles in the past and the only difference this time was that Irving was wearing a Celtics jersey. Whenever Irving and the Celtics scored, Wall answered with a bucket of his own. Wall was relentless in attacking the rim in the fourth quarter as he got to the hole with ease.

With just 13 seconds remaining and the Wizards looking dead in the water, Bradley Beal went to the free-throw line. He made the first free-throw to cut the lead to two, 113-111. He missed his second free-throw but miraculously, it bounced right to him as he laid it in for a layup to tie the ballgame at 113 as we’d be heading to overtime.

The Celtics out-hustled the Wizards on the offensive glass to start the overtime period resulting in easy putback attempts and regaining the lead, 118-114. But just like in regulation, Wall continued to attack the hole and finish.

There was a scary sequence for Wall when he drove through the lane and got tangled up with Irving resulting in him landing awkwardly. After a quick breather, Wall would re-enter the game.

With the Wizards up 123-122, Wall crowded Irving on the wing but Kyrie pulled up for a three as Boston regained the lead, 125-123. Next time down with the game tied at 125, Kyrie would splash in a three from Montgomery County for the dagger putting Boston up for good.

Boston wins an overtime thriller, 130-125.

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Wizards vs. Hawks final score: Bradley Beal’s 36 lift Washington to 131-117 win over Atlanta

Six Wizards players score in double-figures, led by Bradley Beal with a season-high 36 as the Wizards took down the Hawks on Wednesday evening, 131-117. Otto Porter scored 20 and Kelly Oubre added 19 points off the bench for a short-handed Wizards squad that was without the services of John Wall (personal reasons) and Jeff Green (sore back) in Atlanta.

After a lackluster start to the game, the Wizards found their footing once they made the decision to lock in defensively. After getting crushed on the glass 11-5 to start this one, Washington ramped up the intensity and took the lead midway through the first quarter. A Thomas Bryant putback dunk followed by a couple of offensive rebounds to keep possessions alive got the Wizards going in this one.

Troy Brown Jr. got some first quarter playing time as a result of the team’s depth issues and took advantage of it early. Beal drove baseline and found the rookie for a floater in the lane for his first basket. A couple of possessions later, Brown returned the favor by gathering an offensive rebound and kicking it to Beal for a three-pointer as the Wizards took an eight point lead after one.

The Wizards opened this one up in the second quarter thanks to their bench. Kelly Oubre Jr.brought instant energy off the bench, scoring 12 points in the second quarter as Washington’s lead ballooned to 23 heading into halftime. It was arguably their best defensive half of the season and it was one of their best on the offensive end as well, as they assisted on 17 of their 24 made baskets.

After a stellar defensive performance in the first half, Washington turned in a clunker in the third quarter. They gave up 45 points in the period, which allowed Atlanta to get right back in the game. Two sloppy plays by Markieff Morris near the end of the quarter allowed the Hawks to get what was a 25-point lead back down to single digits heading into the fourth quarter.

With the Wizards lead trimmed down to five, 105-100 with ten minutes left, Tomas Satoranskycame up with a big three-pointer in transition that shifted the momentum back in Washington’s favor. The Wizards were able to take back control after that three and cruise to their third straight win, and ninth win in their last 14 games.

Takeaways

Bradley Beal calmly dominates the game

It’s really hard to score a quiet 36 points but Bradley Beal did it in this game. He was clearly the best player on the floor this evening and he played like it, scoring a season-high 36 points this evening and dishing out a team-high nine assists for Washington.

He was outstanding early on slicing his way to the basket and taking his man off the dribble for some close-in shots, leading the Wizards with 21 points at halftime.

Whenever the Wizards needed a basket in the second half once things were a little close for comfort, Beal stepped up to the plate. Whether it was a floater in the lane or a three-pointer from the wing, he gave the Wizards just what they needed to keep the Hawks at bay. He channeled the best parts of how he played during the ‘Everyone Eats’ phase last season to help Washington overcome John Wall’s absence.

Tomas Satoransky turns in a rock-solid performance

With John Wall sitting this one out due to personal reasons, that opened the door for Tomas Satoransky to run the show at point. He was outstanding tonight with 14 points on 5-7 shooting and knocked down some timely three-pointers in the fourth quarter when Atlanta clawed back within striking distance.

Scoring aside, he pitched a near-perfect game everywhere else. He led the charge defensively for Washington, forcing two steals and dished out seven assists without committing a turnover.

The Kelly Oubre experience takes its show on the road

Kelly Oubre has been frustratingly up-and-down all season and tonight, he continued one of his odd trends – he’s playing much better on the road than at home. After a 21-point night against the Knicks on Monday, he followed it up with 19 points and 5 rebounds in Atlanta.

Unlike Monday where he caught fire from deep, he did most of his damage in the paint against Atlanta, attacking the hole and getting to the line. He pushed the ball in transition for some easy shots and helped facilitate some ball movement in transition to set up Otto Porter for this layup.

The Wizards take care of a sub .500 team

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here; the Hawks are a lottery-bound basketball team. But, these were the kinds of games that Washington lost countless times last year. They’ve held serve recently against bottom-feeders like the Nets, Knicks, and Hawks. They’ll get another chance in a winnable game on Saturday as they take on the Cavaliers in Cleveland.

Scott Brooks’ lineup changes have provided a minor jolt for the Wizards

Change is hard. And oftentimes, most people are apprehensive to change unless things get really bad and reach the point where there’s no other option. Scott Brooks and the Washington Wizards are no different.

After Washington stumbled out of the gate to a 5-11 start to the season and on the heels of yet another embarrassing loss to Portland at home, there were no imminent signs that Scott Brooks planned on shaking up his starting lineup. That is, until the very next day when it was reported that just days prior, the Wizards had a very heated practice which included multiple verbal altercations with some of them directed at the coaching staff and front office.

Brooks was backed into a corner. There was no way he could trot out the same inefficient starting five once it became not-so-surprising public information that there was chaos swirling through the organization. So he did. Rather than plugging Ian Mahinmi in for a banged up Dwight Howard(because we know how that experiment went), starting on the November 20th contest against the Los Angeles Clippers, he opted to start second-year player Thomas Bryant in his place and also promoted Kelly Oubre Jr. to the starting lineup, sending Markieff Morris to the bench.

Save for a lifeless performance against the Pelicans, and their loss to the 76ers where they were missing Otto Porter, the lineup change injected a jolt into this team as they’ve gone 3-3 since the change and they’ve seen better production from the starters and the bench.

This change looks to have affected Markieff Morris. Night after night, time and time again, there have been too many instances this season where Morris looks like he doesn’t want to be out on the court. Whether it’s standing still as his man drives by him or being a spectator while his man either out-jumps or out-hustles him for a rebound – the fanbase and Brooks were sick of it.

Since being relegated to the bench, Morris has scored in double figures in five of the six games and has eclipsed the 15-point mark in four the of those six contests — something he did just three times over the first 16 games of the season. Not only is his shooting up over this stretch, but it’s also lit a fire under him on the glass. Morris has ripped down 7.7 rebounds per game over this five-game stretch, up from his season average of 5.2 per contest.

The irony in all of this is that Morris is getting essentially the same minutes that he was prior to the demotion, the only difference is, he’s coming off the pine. The bench can either be a major motivator or can break a guy, and in what has been somewhat of a pleasant surprise (save for Friday’s debacle against Philadelphia), it’s been the former for Morris.

Rather than going with the vanilla option and re-inserting Mahinmi back into the starting lineup, Brooks pulled somewhat of a surprising move in giving second-year player Thomas Bryant the nod. It looked like Bryant might not get much playing time this season but he has played well in his limited time with the starters and he’s likely going to get more minutes now that Dwight Howard is going to be sidelined for 2-3 months.

His 5.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per contest aren’t going to turn any heads but he does all of the intangibles that don’t show up in the box score. He has a relentless motor, is unafraid of banging down low and boxing out his guy, and most importantly; he runs the floor, hard.

The Wizards have talent on their roster, it’s just that everyone knows that the effort is going to be inconsistent at best from its main cast of players. That’s not the case for Bryant and is a much-welcomed sign. Bryant has just played between 12 and 19 minutes since being inserted into the starting lineup and if he continues keeps his energy up and engine revving, I’d be surprised if his minutes didn’t increase.

And what to make of Kelly Oubre? Rather than trying to lead the reserve unit, we’re instead getting the starting version of the Kelly Oubre experience. He’s still had the head-scratching performances but we’re also treated to his occasional one-game explosions like we saw in New Orleans the other night which continues to have fans thinking ‘what if?’ However, until proven otherwise, Oubre is a consistently inconsistent player. It’s just now, he’s getting more time with the starters.

Make no mistake about it, this lineup change and overall roster changes are long overdue. In the meantime, this seems to be an ok option to band-aid this problem before inevitable trades are made and new guys arrive. However, the bigger question still hovers over this team like a stormy cloud — will the franchise need to hit rock bottom again or have internal information become public knowledge before yet another change is made?

Wizards vs. 76ers final score: Philadelphia blows out shorthanded Washington squad 123-98

Eight players scored in double figures on Friday evening as the Philadelphia 76ers rolled through the Wizards 123-98 for their fifth loss of over 20 points this season. Joel Embiid led the Sixers with 16 points and 15 rebounds and Ben Simmons had a near triple-double with 13 points, 8 rebounds and 10 assists as this game was decided by halftime with Philly barely needing to break a sweat against a Wizards squad missing Dwight Howard and Otto Porter.

We’ve all seen this movie before. Washington didn’t bring any effort on the defensive end nor the defensive glass and before you knew it, the Wizards found themselves in a 25-14 hole. Philly didn’t shoot particularly well as they were just 11-of-29 from the field in the first quarter, but Washington gave them plenty of second-chance opportunities. The 76ers corralled nine offensive rebounds off of their 18 misses — a 50 percent offensive rebounding rate — leading to easy putbacks from close in.

And for the umpteenth time in this season, the Wizards found themselves in a double-digit hole at the end of one quarter as they trailed 31-19.

After a Jimmy Butler steal and a dunk 90 seconds into the second quarter, the Wizards found themselves in an even deeper 18-point deficit, 37-19. But you know the drill now. Washington locked in defensively for a couple of minutes and was able to trim the deficit to nine, but Philly countered with 20-7 run to close the half as the rout was on 68-46 at halftime.

Scott Brooks yanked the starters with three minutes remaining in the third quarter as the lead ballooned to 31 and it became clear it was time to shift focus to Saturday’s game against the Nets.

Takeaways

All of the Wizards poor habits were on full display tonight.

Terrible defense, poor shot selection, no effort on the glass –- the list goes on and on. I think we’re all getting serious #contentfatigue talking about this team’s flaws over and over again so let’s check in on the young guys why don’t we?

Thomas Bryant turns in another solid performance

Thomas Bryant got his sixth start of the season and after he was tasked with checking Anthony Davis on Wednesday, he had to try to lock down Joel Embiid tonight.

Like we’ve seen with Bryant over this stretch, his skill-set won’t wow you but it’s the intangibles that catch your eye. Early on after a nice defensive possession, Bryant sprinted the floor beating Embiid down court and John Wall rewarded him hitting the big man with a nice pass for an easy dunk.

In the second half, there was a defensive sequence where Embiid caught the ball on the low post and started backing down on Bryant. Bryant was able to stand his ground and challenged Embiid, swatting his shot away. Yes, it was just one play and Embiid clearly won the head-to-head battle; however, it was a pleasant sight seeing the second-year player attempt to challenge Embiid.

Troy Brown Jr. gets real NBA minutes

Up until tonight, Troy Brown Jr. had only seen the floor in garbage time of blowout games. But due to the Wizards being shorthanded with Porter out, combined with some early foul trouble, Brown ended up getting 4-plus minutes of meaningful playing time late in the first quarter and early into the second.

In his ‘welcome to the league, rookie’ moment, Brown was tasked with guarding Jimmy Butler. All things considered Brown did about as good of a job as you could have expected. He was sound defensively, played under control, and aside from one turnover in semi-transition, played fine during that 4:18 stretch.

Brown’s individual highlight in non-garbage time came on a backdoor pass to a cutting Tomas Satoransky for a reverse layup.

Brown re-entered the contest when this game reached garbage time late in the third quarter. He ended the night with 6 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. If there are any positives to take away from tonight, it’s that Brown was able to get more experience and a few real NBA minutes.

Wizards at Pelicans Final Score: Washington falls to New Orleans 125-104 in latest blowout loss

Unlike Monday night, Washington can’t dig themselves out of a 20-point hole against New Orleans and they fall to the Pelicans, 125-104. The Wizards were led by Kelly Oubre and Markieff Morris who each scored 22 points tonight but it wouldn’t be nearly enough to overcome Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, and Julius Randle who would combine for 80 this evening.

As we’ve become accustomed to at this point, the Wizards came out sluggish in this one and the Pelicans, mainly Jrue Holiday, capitalized on Washington’s lethargy for 11 points just minutes into the game resulting in a quick 18-10 lead for New Orleans. The Wizards snapped out of it (well, sort of) towards the end of the quarter as the reserves closed the period on a 9-2 run trimming the Pelicans’ lead to 7, 31-24 after one quarter.

The Wizards did that thing again where they’d go on a run and lure you back into this one as they’d cut the lead to 5, 41-36. But New Orleans countered with a 9-0 run of their own and would blow this one open, 67-47 as we’d be heading into the intermission.

Once again, the Wizards made their inevitable second-half run and clawed within seven in the third period, but New Orleans would counter with a run of their own putting all hope of a comeback to rest.

Washington falls 125-104 in their latest blowout loss.

Oubre shines in his homecoming

Kelly Oubre, a New Orleans native came out as one would expect in this one – in full on attack mode.

It was clear that Oubre wanted to put on a show for his friends and family in the crowd and he was a big reason why the Wizards were within striking distance early on as he scored 12 of Washington’s first 24 points.

Oubre, as we’ve become all too familiar with; put his head down and attacked the hole but this time, his contested shots were falling. Oubre also turned in one of his best three-point shooting nights as he was 4-8 from distance with three of those makes coming in the first half.

Oubre ended the night with 22 points on 9-18 shooting to go along with six rebounds, two steals and not a single turnover. If only the Wizards could get this Kelly Oubre on a nightly basis.

Revenge game for Tim Frazier

We all know about the #wizardskiller fraternity and after Wednesday night, we might have to start thinking of forming a #formerwizardskiller group. Tim Frazier of the Pelicans was outstanding against his former squad as he notched 12 points, 12 assists, and grabbed six rebounds (did he do this in his entire tenure in Washington?).

Frazier got the start tonight and benefitted from Washington’s Swiss cheese defense as he was able to get to the hole for some easy baskets with no resistance. In the second period, Frazier then hit two timely three-pointers to answer when Washington went on a run to trim the lead to five.

Frazier was outstanding tonight and his performance is just one game but also a huge reflection on another Wizards mishap. If you remember, Frazier was supposed to be a backup to John Wall but was forced into the starting lineup with Wall’s injury last year. Later in the season, Washington picked up Ramon Sessions and Frazier found himself completely out of the rotation. So, Frazier never really had an opportunity to do what he was brought in to do, backup John Wall.

That’s all moot as this point as now, Frazier is putting up double-doubles against his former squad.

Rockets at Wizards Final Score: Wizards overcome 54 points from Harden, beat Rockets 135-131 in overtime thriller

John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for 68 points tonight in a vintage House of Guards game as Washington was able to overcome 54 points from James Harden and beat Houston in an overtime thriller, 135-131.

Washington’s bench combined for 45 points led by Markieff Morris with 22 points and 10 rebounds as Washington wins their second straight game over a Western Conference foe.

Houston, and more specifically, Eric Gordon came out smoking hot to start this one. The Rockets started the game 10-14 from the field including knocking down all six three-point attempts as Houston raced out to an early 27-10 lead forcing Scott Brooks to burn two early timeouts. For the third time this season, Washington surrendered 40+ points in the first quarter and it felt like this one had the makings of a blowout.

Things changed for Washington in the second quarter when they inserted their reserve unit and started pushing the ball. Some tic-tac-toe passing from Wall to Beal to Morris ended up in a dunk late in the second quarter as the Wizards used a 12-2 run to regain the lead 67-65 into the break.

James Harden put on a shooting clinic in the third quarter. First, it was step back three-pointers, then knocking down threes even while getting fouled; and if the Wizards crowded him? He’d drive right by for the layup. Harden scored 21 points in the period as the Rockets regained the lead 98-94 entering the fourth quarter.

Late in the fourth quarter, James Harden did his dance, stepped back for three and knocked down yet another three-pointer and got fouled giving him 50 points on the night as Houston took a 121-117 lead looking to bury the Wizards. But Washington wouldn’t go away. Big three-pointers from Morris and Beal allowed the Wizards to retake the lead and Porter could have put the nail in the coffin as he had a wide-open three with the Wizards up one but it rimmed out.

John Wall would get stripped on the final play of regulation and after five ties and five lead changes in the quarter alone, we’d be going to overtime.

Washington locked down defensively in the overtime period as Houston didn’t score their first basket until the 1:35 mark of the period. After a few tough shots from John Wall, Otto Porter picked off James Harden and threw a touchdown pass to Beal for the dunk icing the game.

Washington overcomes Harden’s 54 points to beat Houston, 135-131 in overtime.

The Wizards can get stops when they want to

It feels very weird to write this as Washington surrendered 131 points tonight but there were stretches where the Wizards played some very sound defense, specifically, towards the end of the fourth quarter and in the overtime periods.

Bradley Beal did a terrific job limiting Harden’s damage, as everyone in the arena knew that he’d try to take over late. Beal crowded Harden forcing him to take some very tough shots (some he made but you just have to tip your cap in that instance).

In the overtime period, Washington was able to hold Houston to just one point until the 1:35 mark with many key stops and forcing some opportune turnovers.

This is what makes the Wizards so frustrating. They were able to play outstanding defense for 3-4 minute stretches tonight and really forced Houston to work for their shots. But then, there were plenty of moments where it was clear that defense was the last thing on their minds. If Washington could lock in defensively for the entire 48 minutes, as they’ve shown glimpses that they are capable of doing, they’d be a very good basketball team. Instead, they find themselves surrendering 120+ points per night and with an 8-12 record.

The bench has proven to be a huge motivator for Markieff Morris

Just four games ago, Markieff Morris was relegated to the bench for his subpar play. Since the lineup shakeup from Brooks, the Wizards have gone 3-1 and it seems to have lit a fire under Morris as he’s playing his best basketball over the season culminating tonight with a 22-point and 10 rebound performance on 8-12 shooting including going 3-4 from three-point range.

Even though Morris came off the bench tonight, he outplayed Kelly Oubre, the guy who replaced him in the starting lineup by 21 minutes. Morris was on the floor in crunch time including the end of regulation and the entire overtime period, when it mattered most.

The reason Morris has been so frustrating for Wizards fans is that he’s capable of nights like this but far too often turns in clunkers of a performance. The irony here is if he continues to play this well off the bench, will Brooks reinsert him back into the starting lineup or keep things put?

Nets at Wizards Final Score: Washington’s bad habits reappear in 115-104 loss to Brooklyn, snapping their 3-game winning streak

Spencer Dinwiddie and D’Angelo Russell combined for 48 points Friday night as the Nets take down the Wizards, 115-104, snapping Washington’s 3-game winning streak. Dwight Howard turned in his best performance in a Wizards’ uniform with 25 points and 17 rebounds but it wouldn’t be enough on a night where Washington’s poor habits reappeared.

When the Wizards play focused and inspiring defense, good things happen. In the first quarter, Washington was able to limit Brooklyn to tough shots, got a bunch of deflections, and turned turnovers into points on the other end. As a result, the Wizards were up 30-26 after the first period.

Things began unraveling in the second quarter but the wheels fell off in the second half. Washington reverted back to playing lazy and lethargic defense and relinquished 13 offensive rebounds to Brooklyn as the Nets used a 16-3 run midway through the third quarter to open this game up.

Washington trailed by as many as 18 points in this one but dug themselves too deep of a hole as they never cut Brooklyn’s lead to single digits after that run.

Washington loses 115-104 and all of the good things that the Wizards did during that 3-game winning streak are now a distant afterthought.

Dwight Howard has his best game as a Wizard

There’s something about the Nets that brings out the best in Dwight Howard. Last year he turned in a 30-30 game against this squad and tonight, he had 25 points to go along with 17 rebounds in just 27 minutes of play. Howard started the game with 11 points and five rebounds in the first quarter and it looked like he would be in for a huge night.

However, foul trouble in the first half limited his minutes and the big man fouled out in the fourth quarter after logging just 27:20 of playing time or he likely would have had an even bigger night.

Many thought (including myself) that Howard was going to be a headache this year. He has been a pleasant surprise this year to what has become a dumpster fire of a start to the season. More often than not, it’s Howard who’s bringing the most effort defensively but more importantly, bringing a positive attitude to a doormat team.

Howard has a player option at the end of this season and at the rate things are going, he’ll likely be in a position to test the free agency waters.

It’s time for a change at the power forward position

Inserting Jeff Green into the starting-five may not be the answer, however, starting Markieff Morris certainly is not. Morris turned in another dud of a game with just four points and two rebounds. Morris had two lazy turnovers (one right after a timeout) and both resulted in Brooklyn points on the other end.

Morris will turn in a 20-point performance once in a blue moon but the lazy performances like we saw tonight are more the norm. Morris looks very slow out there and quite frankly, doesn’t really look interested in playing.

It’s long overdue, however, it’s time for a change at the power forward position.