The Wizards have no room for error as they face one of the NBA’s toughest remaining schedules

The Wizards entered the All-Star break with a 33-24 record, good enough for the fourth best record in the Eastern Conference. And if you said ahead of the season that John Wall would miss 20 games (and counting) to go along with some locker room drama, I think all fans would have been OK with this outcome 23 of the way through the season. But, now that All-Star Weekend has come and gone, the Wizards must regroup, and quickly, as they are about to enter one of the most daunting stretches of the season.

On January 30th, when the news broke that John Wall would have to undergo yet another knee procedure, many wondered how the Wizards were going to right the ship and stay afloat in the Eastern Conference race without him. Washington was able to go 7-2 over that nine-game stretch with impressive wins over the Oklahoma City Thunder and Toronto Raptors.

The unfortunate news for Washington is, all of the teams trailing them in the 5-9 seeds (aside from the Miami Heat), also played very well in the leadup to All-Star Weekend boasting at least a 6-4 record over the previous 10 games. And with only 3.5 games separating the 4-seed and 8-seeds, there’s not a lot of room for error for the Wizards as there is bound to be plenty of shuffling in the standings down the stretch.

The scheduling fairies did the Wizards no favors as they have one of the toughest remaining schedules in the NBA. The Wizards must pick up where they left off and quickly as they take on the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers in Cleveland this Thursday in their first game after the break. Washington will then embark on their version of a hell week as they take on Philadelphia, play at Milwaukee, Golden State, Toronto, and Indiana; all in just an eight-day span. And as if playing the Warriors wasn’t already hard enough, Washington will take on the defending champs in the second half of a back-to-back after playing in Milwaukee the night before.

And remember how the ‘Too Cool for School Wizards’ had trouble knocking off sub .500 teams early in the season? Well, that could come back to haunt them as only seven of their remaining 25 games are against teams with sub .500 records including the Charlotte Hornets twice, a team that Washington has struggled with this season. To make matters worse, the Wizards only have four games left (New York, at Chicago, Atlanta, at Orlando) against likely participants in the 2018-Tank-A-Palooza.

Washington better bring their A-game as only the Indiana Pacers have a tougher remaining schedule than the Wizards for teams seeded 4-9. The Milwaukee Bucks have a slightly easier remaining schedule than the Wizards, however, it’s the Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ersthat have the easiest and second easiest schedules respectively in the league over the final third of the season. In fact, the 76ers, who’re currently just two games behind the Wizards, have such a favorable schedule that ESPN’s 538 predicts that they’ll catch Washington as both teams are projected to finish with 46 wins.

Yes, the Wizards’ recent 7-2 run without John Wall has been impressive. But outside of the Oklahoma City and Toronto wins, four of those wins came against lottery-bound teams (including overcoming a 27-point deficit against the lowly Knicks) as well as knocking off an Indiana Pacers team missing two of its top players.

With John Wall expected to be out until mid-March, everyone needs to continue to eat for the Wizards to play at a high level and finish the season strong. The path to the Eastern Conference Finals will get that much harder should Washington struggle down the stretch and slip into the sixth, seventh, or even the eighth seed.

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Wizards vs. Bulls final score: Tomas Satoransky’s career-best night lifts Wizards to 101-90 win in Chicago

Tomas Satoransky turned in a career night with 25 points on 10-12 shooting to go along with six assists as the Wizards beat the Chicago Bulls, 101-90 on Saturday night.

Otto Porter added 14 points and Mike Scott chipped in with 14 off the bench as the Wizards avoided their first three-game losing skid of the season.

Chicago took a 2-0 lead on a Robin Lopez jumper to start the game. It was the only time the Wizards trailed all game as they were able to maintain a double-digit lead the rest of the way for most of the evening.

Washington won the war of attrition as Tomas SatoranskyTim Frazier, and Ian Mahinmi were forced to leave the contest early for varying reasons and Markieff Morris didn’t dress due to flu-like symptoms, but regardless, the Wizards still found a way to get the win on the road.

Takeaways

Sato turns in a career night

Tomas Satoransky scored a career-high with 25 points tonight on a blistering hot 10-12 shooting including knocking down five-of-six of his three-point attempts to go along with six assists. He set the tone early for the Wizards as he was constantly looking to push the ball and get out in transition. As a result, the Wizards had three uncontested dunks or layups in the first quarter.

He got going early by making all three three-point attempts in the first half as Washington built a double-digit lead. When the ball wasn’t in his hands on offense, he kept himself involved with timely cuts through the paint.

Sato continued his hot shooting in the second half as he added another 10 points including this three-pointer to give him a new career high in points and three-pointers made.

The Wizards let if fly from 3

The Wizards came into this contest averaging just 26.5 three-point attempts per contest, but they came out gunning from three-point range in the first quarter where they took 13 shots from deep and connected on six of them.

Washington had a cold stretch from distance through the second quarter and into the third quarter but it was key three-pointers from Tomas Satoransky, Jodie Meeks, and Mike Scott in the fourth quarter as the Wizards were able to halt any run whenever it looked like Chicago might get back in this one.

A war of attrition

At the 2:35 mark of the fourth quarter, Tomas Satoransky drove baseline for a dunk and Bobby Portis fouled him up high resulting in a very scary fall for Satoransky.

Sato looked to have a gash on the side of his head and didn’t return putting a damper on a career night.

Earlier in the game, Tim Frazier hit his head on Bobby Portis’ knee when diving for a loose ball. He left the game with a nasal fracture.

If either player has to miss time, don’t be surprised to see the Wizards grab a point guard to provide more depth.

Markieff Morris missed tonight’s game due to flu-like symptoms and it looks like it might be spreading around as Ian Mahinmi played in the first half but didn’t return in the second half due to illness. As a result, Jason Smith and Chris McCullough received some unexpected playing time.

Game Notes

  • Bradley Beal had a second straight cold shooting night as he was held to just seven points on 3-13 shooting and missed all seven of his 3-point attempts.
  • The Washington bench combined for 38 points led by Mike Scott with 14 and Jodie Meeks with 10.
  • Everyone was eating yet again as the Wizards combined for 31 assists.

Next up: The Wizards play their final game before the All-Star break in New York on Wednesday against the Knicks at 7 p.m.

Wizards at 76ers Final Score: Washington can’t overcome a 17-point first quarter deficit, fall to Philadelphia 115-102

Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 30 points against the Philadelphia 76ers but it was too little too late as Washington falls, 115-102. Otto Porter scored 17 points and Ian Mahinmi added 13 points off the bench but the Wizards win streak is snapped at five, as they can’t overcome a 17-point first quarter deficit.

With all of the drama surrounding the team just hours before the game, it looked like this one might get ugly, and fast. The Wizards were down 20 in the blink of an eye and trailed the 76ers 37-20 after one quarter.

Even though their shots weren’t falling, Washington would claw their way back in this one on multiple occasions to make you think they had a punchers chance of completing the comeback. Unfortunately, for the Wizards, those runs were quickly countered by a Philly run as the closest Washington cut the deficit to was seven.

Washington can’t overcome a scorching hot first quarter from Philly

There was a buzz in the arena to start this one. Philly fans, which don’t need an excuse to be loud were deafening at the beginning of this game and the 76ers fed off the energy.

Everything Philly was throwing up they were knocking down evidenced as they shot 70% (16-23) in the first quarter and connected on 5-6 three-point attempts. On the other hand, the Wizards couldn’t buy a bucket. Washington shot just 33 percent in the opening period and if it weren’t for Otto Porter who had nine first quarter points, this one could have gotten super ugly.

Bradley Beal was held scoreless on 0-4 shooting and at the end of the night; the 17-point deficit that the Wizards dug themselves (37-20) was just too much to overcome.

Washington had plenty of opportunities tonight, they just couldn’t capitalize

Even with the early 17-point deficit, Washington still had a punchers chance late. Washington was able to cut the lead to 10 entering the fourth quarter and even cut the deficit to seven in the fourth quarter.

But whenever the Wizards took their best shot at Philly, the Sixers had an answer. On numerous occasions, the Wizards were able to cut the Sixers lead down to make the game feel within reach but Philly would counter with quick runs to negate all that. Philly made Washington pay for their mistakes, often coming in the midst of those runs to build the lead back up to double-figures.

Although it’s cliché, it’s a make or miss league and the Wizards were off early and it was too much of a deficit to overcome. The energy and effort were there, they just dug themselves too big of a hole early on.

Tip Ins:

  • Bradley Beal started the game 0-5 from the field but when 12-17 the rest of the way.
  • The Wizards streak of games with 25+ assists ends at five as they just had 23 assists tonight.
  • Ian Mahinmi went a perfect 5-5 from the free-throw line tonight (yes, you read that correctly).

Up Next: Washington’s hell week continues as the Celtics come to town on Thursday evening.

Wizards at Pacers final score: ‘Everyone Eats’ yet again as Washington rolls to a 111-102 victory over Indiana

Eight Wizards players scored in double figures this evening led by Bradley Beal with 21 as the Wizards knocked off the short-handed Pacers, 111-102. Otto Porter scored 13 points (11 in the second half) and the duo of Tim Frazier and Tomas Satoransky combined for 12 assists as Washington wins their fifth straight game and improves to 10-6 without John Wall on the season.

After racing out to a 28-23 lead after one quarter, like we’ve become accustomed to, Scott Brooks inserted all reserves only to watch the lead quickly vanish. But it was Kelly Oubre who got fouled shooting a three-pointer which sparked a Wizards 9-0 run as the Wizards regained control 42-34.

Bradley Beal hit this nasty step back jumper late in the second quarter, something we’ve become used to seeing on a nightly basis as the Wizards enjoyed a 58-49 lead at halftime.

After a slow first half, Otto Porter caught fire for the Wizards with 11 of his 13 points coming in the third quarter as Washington was able to take control of this game.

Jodie Meeks and Ian Mahinmi had some very timely baskets in the fourth quarter (yes, you read that correctly) as Washington was able to pull away for the 111-102 victory.

Everybody eats once again

As mentioned, eight Wizards players scored in double figures tonight led by Bradley Beal with 21 and Kelly Oubre Jr. with 15 off the bench. However, Ian Mahinmi and Jodie Meeks also scored in double figures tonight, something we’ve seldom seen from them this season.

Not only did the team share the scoring wealth, but the ball continued to zip around. Washington combined for 29 assists tonight, their fifth straight game with at least 25 assists and it was Tim Frazier and Tomas Satoransky who led the team in that department with six each.

Markieff Morris was terrific tonight as he notched a double-double with 11 points and 10 assists and Mike Scott was his usual efficient self, connecting on 5-10 field goals for 11 points as everyone eats for the fifth straight game.

Ian Mahinmi and Jodie Meeks both had really good games

Jodie Meeks, who’s stated that he wants out of Washington in hopes of playing for a team where he can have a more prominent role did well in his audition with 10 points on 4-6 shooting. Meeks knocked down his first three-pointer of the night and also hit a nice baseline jumper in the first half at a time when the Wizards were struggling to score.

Meeks backed that up with five fourth quarter points including a three-pointer in transition to give Washington a double-digit lead.

Ian Mahinmi played one of his best games for the Wizards tonight with 12 points on a perfect 4-4 shooting to go along with seven rebounds. Mahinmi was active on the offensive end bullying his was for easy layups and dunks all night.

Tip Ins:

  • Washington turned the Pacers over 15 times converting that into 29 points
  • The Wizards shot 14-17 (82 percent) from the free-throw line tonight

Up Next: Washington heads to Philadelphia to take on the 76ers tomorrow night.

Wizards at Magic Final Score: ‘Everybody Eats’ yet again as the Wizards blowout the Magic 115-98

Tomas Satoransky scored a career-high 19 points to go along with six assists as the Wizards beat the Magic, 115-98, dropping them for the third time this season. All five starters scored in double-figures and the “everybody eats” model held true again tonight as the Wizards combined for 35 assists on 46 made field goals.

After enjoying a lead for the entire first quarter, the Magic made a run early in the second period with all Washington reserves on the court. Tomas Satoransky checked back into the game at the 3:31 and that flipped the tide. Washington ended the second period on a 12-2 run upon Sato’s return as the Wizards held a comfortable 56-47 lead at halftime.

The Wizards outscored Orlando 31-22 in the third period behind eight points and five rebounds from Marcin Gortat and some knockdown three-point shooting from Satoransky as Washington would blow this one open and never look back.

The starters got a rest in the fourth quarter and the ‘human victory cigar’ in Chris McCullough scored a bucket late as Washington would cruise to a 115-98 victory.

Sato with a career-high

As mentioned, Tomas Satoransky scored a career-high 19 points on 7-9 shooting including going a perfect 3-3 from long range. He added six assists and two steals only coughing the ball up once all while locking down Elfrid Payton, a guy who’s torched the Wizards this season.

Sato was outstanding tonight looking to get others involved first and then staying within himself when looking for his own shot. He pushed the ball in transition whenever the Wizards had numbers resulting in easy baskets and even two three-pointers for him as he was wide open on the wing.

The tide turned for the Wizards at the 3:31 mark of the second quarter as Satoransky re-entered the game and forced a turnover right off the bat resulting in an easy basket for the Wizards.

All around great game from Beal

Bradley Beal was outstanding tonight finishing the game with 18 points, eight assists, and eight rebounds all in just three quarters of play. Unfortunately for Beal, the Wizards had such a large lead heading into the fourth quarter so there was no need to put Beal in and chase that triple-double.

Everything was working for Beal this evening. Nice assists to get others involved? Check. Slicing through the lane and finishing over the trees at the rim? Check. That lethal step back? You bet.

This was another All-Star worthy performance from Brad in just 31 minutes of play.

Tip Ins:

  • The win gives Washington their 17th victory over Orlando in their last 19 tries
  • Marcin Gortat added another double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds against his former team
  • Markieff Morris had another strong game with 16 points, three rebounds, and three steals tonight

Up Next: The Wizards have a very tough week ahead of them starting in Indiana against the Pacers on Monday night.

Raptors at Wizards final score: Washington wins a nail-biter, hangs on for 122-119 victory over Toronto

With the Wizards up 118-120 and just four seconds to play, all Bradley Beal had to do was catch an inbounds pass and hold on for the inevitable foul from Toronto. Unfortunately, Beal made his move before gathering the ball coughing it up and fouling Kyle Lowry with just three seconds to play to make matters worse.

Lowry, a 86 percent free-throw shooter clanked the first free-throw and Beal would atone for his sin on the other end knocking down two free-throws of his own as the Wizards hang on for the 122-119 victory over the Raptors.

Washington shared the wealth as eight players scored in double figures led by Bradley Beal with 27 (25 in the second half), followed by Otto Porter with 16 and Markieff Morris who chipped in with 15.

The win gives snaps Washington’s seven-game home losing streak to Toronto. Yes, you read that correctly.

A tale of two halves for Beal

The Toronto Raptors put the clamps on Bradley Beal in the first half. They were double-teaming him every time he got the ball and were packing the paint on his drives to the hole. As a result, Beal struggled, missing all six of his field goal attempts and scoring just two points on free throws in the first half.

But that all changed in the second half. Beal came out on fire in the second half connecting on his first four field goals for 11 points just one minute and 50 seconds into the third quarter as the Wizards erased a seven-point halftime deficit. Beal was much more aggressive and let it fly from three-point range knocking down his first three attempts of the third quarter as he finished the period with 17 points.

Beal hit a tough layup over Jonas Valanciunas with under a minute to play to tie the game and knocked down four free-throws in the final seconds as the Wizards would come away with the victory.

Washington gets it done with an all-around team effort 

With John Wall out for up to two months, it’s no secret that the Wizards are going to need many guys to step up if they are able to keep a respectable seeding in the Eastern Conference. And tonight, they got just that. Eight Wizards players scored in double figures tonight and four players had at least four assists to fill in for Wall’s absence.

Marcin Gortat started the game 3-3 from the field to get the Wizards offense going early on and Markieff Morris provided a much-needed spark with 15 points and seven rebounds.

Not only were the starters good tonight, but the bench was outstanding combining for 44 points behind 14 from Mike Scott and 10 from Jodie Meeks (all in the fourth quarter). Guys like Scott and Ian Mahinmi (10 points) were able to carry the scoring load for the Wizards in the first half as Beal struggled to get going early on.

Otto Porter, who also had a bit of a slow start had some timely transition layups in the fourth quarter to give Washington the lead and came up with several big rebounds down the stretch.

In all, this was an outstanding team effort tonight.

We finally got a Jodie Meeks game

It took 51 games, but we finally got a (mini) explosion from Jodie Meeks off the bench. After being held scoreless in his limited action in the first half, Meeks hit a prayer three-pointer to start the fourth quarter. The next time down, Meeks curled off a screen and knocked down another three-pointer to give Washington a seven-point lead early in the fourth quarter.

Meeks would break out in transition to add a layup and also knock down two free throws as he scored 10 quick points to give Washington an extra jolt down the stretch in the fourth quarter.

Tip Ins:

  • Ian Mahinmi went a perfect 4-4 from the free-throw line
  • Washington shared the rock, dishing out 30 assists on 44 made field goals

  • The Wizards turned the Raptors over 18 times turning those into 23 points on the other end.

Up Next: A potential trap game looms as Washington heads to Orlando on Saturday.

Wizards at Hawks Final Score: Washington combines for a season-high 40 assists to take down Atlanta, 129-104

Six Wizards players scored in double-figures tonight led by Markieff Morris with 23 as Washington takes down the Atlanta Hawks, 129-104. Mike Scott added 19 points off the bench while Otto Porter and Bradley Beal chipped in with 18 each as the short-handed Wizards take care of business in Atlanta without John Wall.

John Wall missed tonight’s game due to soreness in his knee but his replacements provided more than just a spark. Tomas Satoransky knocked down a three-pointer for the game’s first basket and that would be indicative of the night he’d have. Sato ended the game with 11 points (3-3 from three-point range) to go along with seven assists in his first start of the season.

The Wizards were up by more than 20 in the second half but the Hawks were able to trim the lead to 14 to make Washington sweat a bit. But Bradley Beal killed all of that momentum with a nifty dunk to end the third quarter as time was expiring.

Scott Brooks emptied the bench with just under four minutes to play as Washington breaks a two-game losing streak and is able to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season.

Sharing is caring

Yes, the Hawks defense is bad, but credit the Wizards offense as the ball rarely got stuck and was zipping around the arc getting Washington open shots all night. With John Wall out, it was that much more important that the Wizards get nice efforts from everyone and no better way to do that than making the extra pass and turning down good shots for wide open shots.

40 of Washington’s 49 made field goals (82 percent) were assisted on led by Tim Frazier who had a team-high 14 assists off the bench. Tomas Satoransky, who started in place of John Wall dished out seven dimes and Bradley Beal added five as the Wizards had a season-high 40 assists this evening.

Washington was very unselfish tonight and as a result, they got the easy W.

Markieff Morris steps up

For as long as John Wall is out, Markieff Morris is the guy who quite possibly needs to step up the most. Morris came out like a man on a mission knocking down his first three three-pointers (4-5 for the night) and scored 15 points to go along with five rebounds prior to halftime.

Morris’ usage wasn’t as high in the second half but was extremely efficient knocking down three of his four field goal attempts. The tenacity wasn’t as prevalent on the defensive end in the second half as he didn’t grab a rebound but regardless, the Wizards need this Markieff Morris to show up on a nightly.

Wiz go hot from three-point range

Not only were the Wizards whizzing the ball around the arc, but they were knocking down their three-point shots when they got those open looks. Washington shot an impressive 18-32 (56 percent) from three-point range that enabled them to get out to an early lead and take control of this game early on.

In addition to Morris’ hot shooting from range, Tomas Satoransky knocked down a career-high three three-pointers (3-3) while Kelly Oubre, Otto Porter, and Bradley Beal added two three-pointers apiece.

Tip Ins

  • The Wizards have struggled from the free-throw line in the past but were 13-14 from the charity stripe tonight.
  • The Wizards improved to 6-6 this season in games where John Wall doesn’t play.
  • Kelly Oubre Jr. threw down this nasty dunk on John Collins’ head

TWEET

Up Next

No time to rest as the Wizards take on the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night, this time at the Capital One Arena.