A way too early ranking of the Eastern Conference

Last week we took a look at how the teams stack up early in the Southeast Division.

Now let’s see how the entire Eastern Conference stacks up now that free agency is in the rearview mirror.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs just won the championship. Cleveland just re-signed LeBron James to a three-year deal. Not much else to discuss here. Let’s keep moving.

2. Toronto Raptors

The Raptors are here by default. After making their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance in team history, the Raptors are looking to build on that momentum to carry them even further. They re-signed All-Star DeMar DeRozan to a five-year $145 million dollar year to keep the dynamic backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeRozan intact.

Bismack Biyombo played out of his mind during the playoffs earning him a large payday but with the Orlando Magic. Many think that Biyombo’s departure could potentially set the Raptors back. I disagree. Biyombo is a backup center and a rim protector. He averaged 5.5 points and eight rebounds during the regular season but those numbers jumped 6.2 points and 9.4 rebounds during the postseason. Biyombo is a force to be reckoned with on the defensive end but is very limited on the offensive end. He’s a classic energy guy who happened to explode on a national stage at the right time. Yes, they’ll miss his defensive presence and shot-blocking; it’s just, I don’t think that’s enough to set the entire team back.

The Raptors replaced Biyombo with the acquisition of Jared Sullinger. As a starter last season, Sullinger averaged 10.3 points and 8.3 rebounds for the Celtics. However this year, he’s expected to come off of the bench for the Raptors. Sullinger’s playing style is the opposite of Biyombo. Sullinger is shorter in stature but throws his weight around to gain position in the paint. Sullinger can stretch the floor and is effective in doing so as he shot 44.1 percent from shots 5-9 feet from the basket and 44.9 percent on shots 20-24 feet from the hoop.

He isn’t a great three-point shooter but is capable of knocking them down as he shot a modest 28.2 percent from distance last season which is better than most centers.

The Raptors did what they had to do to stay at the top of the Eastern Conference. They may not scare Cleveland, but keeping DeRozan and other key players intact will make them a force to be reckoned with next season.

3. Boston Celtics

The Celtics return four of their five starters from last season. They upgraded at the center position in acquiring Al Horford to fill the void left by Jared Sullinger. Although Horford is 30 years old, the former All-Star is an instant upgrade over Sullinger as he averaged more points (15.2), shot better from the field (50.5 percent), and shot better from three-point range (34.4 percent).

Plug in rookie Jaylen Brown and now the Celtics have another long wing to go alongside Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson, Jonas Jerebko, and Gerald Green.

Additionally, according to ESPN.com, the Celtics are projected to have the easiest schedule in the league next season.

This team still lacks an “alpha dog” as I don’t believe Isaiah Thomas has reached that level yet. However, they still have a very good roster and one of the top coaches in the NBA. The arrow continues to point up for this team.

4. Indiana Pacers

The Indiana Pacers didn’t get much publicity but positioned themselves very well for next season. The Pacers upgraded at point guard acquiring Indianapolis native Jeff Teague from the Atlanta Hawks in a three-team trade. Teague and Hill shot almost identical shooting percentages from three-point range and from the field, however,Teague averaged more points (15.7) and assists (5.9).

Us Wizards fans know that Ian Mahinmi is now gone from the Pacers. The Pacers seem very pleased and confident to move forward with second-year player Myles Turner at center and they also signed a Swiss Army Knife player in Thaddeus Young.

The Pacers secured up the center position with Al Jefferson and it’s very clear that Paul George is back to his superstar ways. The Pacers do have a new coach in Nate McMillan to get used to, however; this team looks poised to take a step forward after getting eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

5. Detroit Pistons

The Pistons bring back essentially the same roster that they had last season after re-signing All-Star center Andre Drummond. In somewhat of an under the radar move, the Pistons acquired Boban Marjanovic from the Spurs to play the backup center position. He is still somewhat of an unknown as he didn’t get too much playing time in San Antonio, however, he’s coming from the best culture in the NBA and will practice against one of the best centers in the NBA in Andre Drummond.

Tobias Harris and Marcus Morris will now have the entire offseason to get acclimated with the team rather than learning on the fly in just 30 games prior to the postseason. The Pistons have a nice core of players and young guys such as Stanley Johnson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who should continue to get better with time.

Expect a big step forward from the Pistons this season.

6. Charlotte Hornets

The losses of Jeremy Lin, Al Jefferson and Courtney Lee sting; No doubt about it. But as Kemba Walker enters his sixth NBA season, I feel that he’s on the verge of a breakout year. Walker scored a career-best 20.9 points last season. After getting snubbed from the All-Star game, Walkers’ numbers ballooned to 25.2 points, 6.1 assists, and 5.6 rebounds in the three weeks afterward. Walker has had his superstar moments evidenced by his 52-point game against the Jazz last season. We’ve seen Walker perform at All-Star levels in stretches; now’s the time where he does it for an entire season.

Outside of Walker, the Hornets kept many key guys intact by re-signing Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams. With Michael Kidd-Gilchrist still around along with young, fresher guys in Cody Zeller, Frank Kaminsky, and Jeremy Lamb to round out the roster. That’s enough to make the Hornets the early favorites to win the Southeast division.

7. Washington Wizards

The Wizards return their starting five (after the All-Star game) from last season. The big X-factor this season will be Bradley Beal. Will he stay healthy? That’s the $128 million dollar question. Although he feels his injury woes are behind him, the elephant in the room will remain until Beal proves that he can stay healthy as the four-year player averages just 62 games played per season in his short four-year career.

Another uncertainty for the Wizards is Otto Porter’s development. He has continued to develop over the past three seasons, however if the Wizards are going to be relevant in the playoff race again, they’ll need Porter to take yet another step forward. He needs to continue to increase his scoring as the front office is all in on him and Kelly Oubre at the small forward position.

John Wall on the mend from knee surgery and Bradley Beal’s health are a constant question mark, so if Porter can take on more of a scoring load for this team early; that will pay dividends down the road.

8. Miami Heat

Let me preface this by saying this ranking assumes Chris Bosh DOESN’T play next season.

The Heat lost key players in Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, and Joe Johnson to free agency. That hurts. The team will now be counting on Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside and up and comer Justice Winslow to carry the torch for this team.

The Heat should be just fine defensively as Eric Spoelstra is known for his defensive schemes however the offense is another question. Hassan Whiteside is limited offensively, the team replaced Wade with Dion Waiters, but will count on Goran Dragic to carry the scoring load. Dragic has averaged 20 points for a season just once in his career and if the Heat are going to be competitive this year, he’ll need to do that again.

The wildcard here is Chris Bosh. As mentioned, Bosh has been dealing with blood clots over the past two years causing him to miss 67 games over the past two seasons. If Bosh is cleared to play and can stay healthy, that should be enough for the Heat to make the playoffs. If he can’t, the Heat will probably be on the outside looking in.

9. Chicago Bulls

Will the Bulls make any three-pointers next year? It can be assumed that Rondo, Wade, and Butler will be starting at the point guard, shooting guard, and small forward positions. None of them shoot threes very well. That leaves Nikola Mirotic, the team’s power forward, as the Bulls’ best three-point option.

10. Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks lost Jeff Teague and Al Horford in the offseason. Yes, they signed Dwight Howard but he has proven that he’s not the easiest teammate to play with. In addition, Dennis Schroder will now be counted on to lead this team. There’re too many unknowns right now. Expect the Hawks to fall out of the playoffs.

11. New York Knicks

Derrick Rose was right. The Knicks did form a “Super-Team”…… if the year was 2011. The Knicks should have an improved record now that there’s more talent surrounding Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. It’s just the players they signed in Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Courtney Lee are injury prone or are already past their prime.

12. Milwaukee Bucks

I thought the Bucks would break out last year but they didn’t. They have youth, size, athleticism, and a good coach (so we think). They fooled me last year. Now I need to see the improvement to believe it.

13. Orlando Magic

The Magic added size and athleticism in the offseason. Bismack Biyombo and Serge Ibaka are good players; however, scoring is not their strong suit. Scoring for this team will be difficult.

14. Philadelphia 76ers

They went 10-72 last season and drafted the preseason favorite for rookie of the year in Ben Simmons. Can only go up from here, right?

15. Brooklyn Nets

Close your eyes Nets’ fans.

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A Way Too Early Ranking of the Southeast Division

When the clock struck midnight on July 1, 2016, we were introduced to a new era of NBA Free Agency. Players deservingly, and some undeservingly, signed eight and nine figure deals with the new salary cap skyrocketing making it feel like a frantic scene out of Wolf of Wall Street rather than your standard free agency period.

Now that the storm has passed and all of the major signings are complete, lets look at how the teams stack up in the Southeast Division. And specifically, do the Wizards have a shot at winning the division this season with their new acquisitions?

1. Charlotte Hornets

Key Signings – Nicolas Batum (Re-signed), Marvin Williams (Re-signed)

Key Losses – Jeremy Lin, Al Jefferson, Courtney Lee

Jeremy Lin had arguably his best and most consistent season since his “Linsanity” season in 2012 as he averaged 10.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.6 assists coming off of the bench. Those numbers soared to 17.5 points, 4 rebounds, and 4.8 assists in his 13 games as a starter. After playing in just 28 games with the Hornets, Courtney Lee opted to walk and sign with the Knicks this offseason. His numbers won’t blow you away however Lee averaged 8.9 points on 44.5 percent shooting in his brief Charlotte stint. He is a solid 3-D guy who defends the perimeter well and can score without his number being called a ton. The Hornets will miss this duo however they seem confident some combination of Walker, Lamb, Sessions, and Roberts will be able to fill the void left by Lin and Lee.

With that said, the Hornets kept their key players of Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist intact while they continue to groom their younger guys in Cody Zeller, Jeremy Lamb, and Frank Kaminsky. Couple that as they now have serviceable veterans such as Brian Roberts and Ramon Sessions. Suddenly, the Hornets have a stable of guards that they can mix and match based on the flow of the game.

The Hornets were the seventh best three-pointing shooting team in the NBA connecting 36.2 percent of their three pointers last season. Don’t expect that to change much as three of their top three-point shooters in Kemba Walker, Marvin Williams, and Frank Kaminsky all return.

Lastly, Kemba Walker is due for a breakout season. He averaged 20.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 5.2 assists last season and had moments of super-stardom highlighted by a 52 point outburst against the Jazz last season. It’s been documented that Walker has a chip on his shoulder after being snubbed from last year’s All-Star game and is on the verge of breaking out as one of the top guards in the NBA. Don’t be surprised if it happens as he enters his sixth NBA season. 

The Hornets went 48-34 last season earning them the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. Expect them to build on that momentum. No Crying Jordan meme here.

2. Miami Heat

Key Signings – Hassan Whiteside (Re-signed)

Key Losses – Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Joe Johnson

Outside of the Hawks (which we’ll get to later), the Heat took the second biggest hit in free agency losing a once-thought face-of-the-franchise player in Dwayne Wade as well as key guys in Luol Deng and Joe Johnson. With that said, the Heat still have a very solid core intact with Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic, and second-year player Justise Winslow.

The wildcard here is Chris Bosh. He has experienced blood clots over the past two seasons that have limited him to playing in just 44 and 53 games respectively. If Bosh is cleared medically to play, that’s enough to bump the Heat up to the #1 spot as the team to beat in the Southeastern Division.

The Heat will still be a team to be reckoned with out east and should comfortably make the playoffs. It’s just hard to downplay losing a player that was once the face of the franchise and potentially losing Bosh for parts if not all of the season.

3. Washington Wizards

Key Signings – Bradley Beal (Re-signed), Ian Mahinmi

Key Losses – Jared Dudley, Garrett Temple, Nene

Like the Hornets, the Wizards kept their core intact by signing Bradley Beal and keeping all five members of their starting five. In addition, the Wizards got a bit younger and more athletic off the bench by adding Andrew Nicholson and Ian Mahinmi.

The main question is, how will this team adapt to their third system in as many years while welcoming a new coaching staff? Mainly, will they buy in on the defensive end? It’s no secret that the Wizards fell off last season, finishing 13th in Defensive Efficiency.

The Wizards also allowed their opponents to shoot 46.2 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from three-point range; ranking them in the bottom third of the league. Clearly, the Wizards must buy in on the defensive end if they are going to put this past season’s failures in the rearview mirror.

Obviously they can’t control this, but the injury bug hit the Wizards hard last season. Bradley Beal played in just 55 games this past season while Kris Humphries, Gary Neal, and Alan Anderson; guys thought to be key contributors to the team appeared in just 28, 40, and 13 games respectively.

It’s clear that the Wizards needed a new voice as the team began zoning out Randy Wittman midway through the season. If the Wizards buy in on the defensive end and can stay relatively healthy, there’s no reason why they can’t jump ahead of Charlotte and Miami and shoot up to the top spot in the wide-open Southeastern Division.

4. Atlanta Hawks

Key Signings – Dwight Howard, Kent Bazemore (Re-signed)

Key Losses – Al Horford, Jeff Teague

Of all of the teams in the Southeast Division and maybe even the Eastern Conference, I think the Hawks will take the biggest step back this year. This offseason, arguably their two best players in Al Horford and Jeff Teague left the team for greener pastures. The team responded by handing the keys over Dennis Schröder and acquiring the often disgruntled Dwight Howard.

Although still effective, key players such as Paul Milsap and Kyle Korver are getting older. Korver played in 80 games last season but averaged just 9.2 points per game and shot 39.9 percent from three-point range; his lowest outputs since arriving in Atlanta. Outside of Korver, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Jarrett Jack round out the team’s guard depth. If the younger Hardaway Jr. can take over some of the scoring load, then that could potentially soften the blow for the Hawks, who finished 18th in Offensive Efficiency last season.

At the power forward position, things are even worse. Outside of Millsap, Kris Humphries and Mike Muscala are the only other power forwards on the roster. That’s a significant drop off from the starter to reserve spot.

On top of all that, the Hawks will now be counting on Kent Bazemore to carry the load offensively with his new 4-year $70 million dollar a year deal. That puts enormous pressure on a guy who was the fourth or fifth option on offense last year and averaged just 11.6 points per game.

The Hawks are trying to replace two of their best players, plug in a player who isn’t the easiest to get along with, and are counting on a new guy to carry the torch for this franchise moving forward. I can’t see all of that coming together in one year.

Expect a drop-off from the Hawks and don’t be surprised if they miss the playoffs altogether.

5. Orlando Magic

Key Signings – Serge Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo, Evan Fournier (Re-signed), Jeff Green, D.J. Augustin

Key Losses – Victor Oladipo, Andrew Nicholson.

The Magic lost arguably their best player and once thought, face-of-the-franchise player in Victor Oladipo in a trade to the Thunder for Serge Ibaka. The dynamic Oladipo averaged 16 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.9 assists last year for the Magic but he never seemed to jell with Elfrid Payton. Evan Fournier will be plugged in to fill that scoring void. 

I’m in the camp that feels Serge Ibaka’s stats were inflated because he was playing alongside two All-Stars for the beginning of his career. Now, he’ll be counted on to take on more of a leadership role as he’s entering his eighth season. Ibaka averaged 12.6 points this past season, his lowest since 2012. Ibaka will definitely get more shots now that he’s not playing alongside Durant and Westbrook however the defense will be paying more attention to him too. Ibaka can’t disappear like he did during the San Antonio series if the Magic are going to take the next step.

Bismack Biyombo’s stock was sky-high once he was inserted into the starting lineup of the Miami series when Jonas Valanciunas went down with injury. Biyombo averaged 6.7 points and 8.4 rebounds during the Miami series and that increased during the Eastern Conference Finals where he averaged 6.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, to go along with 1.8 blocks.

He cashed in and rightfully so. Only thing is, he’s not a scorer and it’s likely that he’ll be frequently paired up with Aaron Gordon. Both are athletic and good rebounders but neither of the big guys flourishes on the offensive end unless it’s a dunk. As a result, I don’t see the Biyombo signing having a significant impact on this team.

The Jeff Green signing doesn’t make a ton of sense as the oft-injured player is currently the only true small forward on the roster and will likely be forced into the starting five at some point or another. To salvage the somewhat head-scratching deal, the Magic signed the quick and speedy D.J. Augustin to play the backup point guard position on a relatively cheap deal, though he won’t move the needle much.

The Magic are heading in the right direction. They are signing young and effective players while still keeping most of their key guys around. On top of that, they hired Frank Vogel. Just like the Hawks, the Magic will be plugging in new guys in key roles on top of getting used to a new coaching staff.

The arrow is pointing up for this team; I just think they’re still a year or two away from making the playoffs.

In #SoWizards fashion, Wiz blow 19 point lead, lose 108-104.

In #SoWizards fashion, the Wizards blow a 19 point lead and lose to the Hornets, 108-104. I’ve been pretty quiet about Wittman’s coaching this season saying the players need to be held accountable but this one is on him. The substitutions tonight made absolutely no sense. Like… none.

The Wizards started off this game hot, particularly Dudley who was 4-5 in the first quarter with 10 points. Dudley was hitting threes and mid-range jumpers. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t score the rest of the game.

The game was tied at 25 after one and that’s when Otto Porter took over. Porter exploded for 17 points in the second quarter allowing the Wizards to take a commanding 19 point lead at one point, 55-36.

However, the Hornets would end the half strong and cut into the Wizards lead trailing by just 10, 58-48 at halftime.

The Wizards were awful in the 3rd quarter. Their 10 point lead disappeared at the snap of a finger. Charlotte opened the quarter on a 25-9 run and tied the game on a three-pointer from Nic Batum who made the shot and got fouled. The Hornets outscored the Wizards 30-17 and regained the lead 78-75 going into the fourth quarter.

The Hornets stretched the lead out to eight on a dunk from Frank Kaminsky. Beal and Wall answered with threes on the other end not allowing Charlotte to pull away. The Wizards used a key 7-0 run late in the quarter to retake the lead 96-95.

With the Hornets up 101-100, Jeremy Lin would hit a corner three, as the Charlotte would take a 104-100 lead with 30 seconds to play. Charlotte would hit their free throws down the stretch and win this one 108-104.

Bradley Beal is back to his normal self: Brad scored 22 points on 8-13 shooting in just 20 minutes of play. The team is clearly worried about his health, especially playing on the second half of a back-to-back so Beal was forced to come off the bench. Beal was aggressive, attacked the hole, and didn’t settle for long jumpers. He went 3-4 from three-point range as well as 3-4 from the charity stripe.

The substitutions tonight were awful: Let’s just skip ahead to the fourth quarter shall we? Keep in mind, Beal was hot in the first half yet didn’t see the floor until the start of the fourth quarter. Wittman opted to go with a lineup of Wall-Beal-Sessions-Porter-Gooden to start the quarter. What’s head scratching is that Wittman played Sessions for almost the entire fourth quarter over Dudley. Additionally, Gooden was in the game for the first six minutes of the fourth quarter. Gooden played well tonight but you do not keep him in over Gortat when you’re trying to win a game. Lastly, Kelly Oubre Jr. who’s been glued to the bench for the last five games was inserted and asked to guard Nic Batum for a couple of minutes. Nothing Wittman did in the fourth quarter made sense and this loss can be chalked up to those poor substitutions.

Wizards sting Hornets behind 27 from Wall and a career-high 21 from Temple.

John Wall scored a game-high 27 points as the shorthanded Wizards sting the shorthanded Hornets, 109-101. Garrett Temple scored a career-high 21 points on an effective 7-9 shooting while Jared Dudley scored 19 points on 7-10 shooting.

With Otto Porter missing tonight’s game due to a thigh injury, Kelly Oubre Jr. got his first NBA start. The rookie was solid tonight logging eight points and five rebounds in 22 minutes of action. Oubre got in a bit of foul trouble that forced him to the bench but overall, a good performance.

The Hornets were without Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (recovering from surgery) and Al Jefferson (suspension) tonight. The Hornets started hot, hitting on 5-11 from three-point range in the first quarter.

John Wall’s hot streak continues to roll along as Wall logged 27 points with 20 coming in the first half. Temple scored 12 of his 21 points in the first half including this three-pointer at the end of the first half to give the Wizards momentum heading into halftime:

The Wizards ended the third quarter on a 16-6 run to stretch the lead to 11, 86-75. But you knew it wouldn’t be smooth sailing.

The Hornets went on a 16-2 run to cut Washington’s lead to one, 101-100 with just minutes to play. But John Wall hit a key jump shot from the elbow and set up Gortat for a hook shot in the lane as the Wizards would pull away and win, 109-101.

Wizards get into the paint: The Wizards scored 22 points in the paint in the first half and 40 for the game. Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin could not stay in front of Wall as he was able to get to the hole without much resistance and really, anywhere on the court he wanted. Garrett Temple was aggressive getting out in transition. Ramon Sessions was able to slice through the Hornets defense and get to the hole. And let’s not forget about Gortat who got off to a slow start missing his first four shots but went 7-12 the rest of the way with most of his damage coming in the painted area.

Garett Temple and Jared Dudley come up big: Dudley went 7-10 from the field (3-5 from three-point range) for 19 points and nine rebounds. Temple was even more effective going 7-9 from the field (2-3 from three-point range) for 21 points. After posting an odd stat line in the first quarter (0 points, 5 rebounds, and 0 assists), Dudley got going in the second quarter knocking down three of his first four shots. In addition, Dudley knocked down two three-pointers at key moments in the second half tonight. Temple was very aggressive, especially in transition. Temple scored six of his 21 points on transition layups and got to the line, connecting on 5-7 from the charity stripe.

Hornets get into the paint/crash offensive glass: The Hornets scored 26 points in the paint for the first half and 50 for the game. The Hornets, the worst offensive rebounding team in the league snagged 18 offensive rebounds. As a result, they had 14 more shot attempts than the Wizards. This was due to a variety of reasons; lack of hustle from the Wizards, not boxing out on defense, and many times, Wizards players were leaking out while the shot was up assuming another player would gather the rebound. Additionally, Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin didn’t have too much resistance when driving to the hole tonight. This game had the potential of being a blowout but the Wizards gave the Hornets too many second chance opportunities which prevented it from getting out of hand.

Hornets use 23-0 run to erase fourth quarter deficit, Win 101-87.

With the Wizards up nine early in the fourth quarter, the Hornets went on a 23-0 run while the Wizards missed their final 17 field goal attempts as the Wizards cough this one up and lose, 101-87.

Gary Neal was the high scorer for the Wizards with 18 points followed by Marcin Gortat and Bradley Beal with 17 points apiece. The loss drops the Wizards to 6-6 on the season.

The Wizards looked to forget about last night’s Indiana game as they took an early 19-13 lead including 5-9 from three point range. The Hornets were shooting hot from three-point range as well starting 4-6 from deep. In a quarter filled with runs, the Hornets ended the quarter on a 8-0 run as the Hornets led 28-24 after one.

The Wizards started the second quarter cold connecting on just 2-9 of their field goal attempts but followed that up by knocking down the next six. Gary Neal was the high scorer for the Wizards off the bench (18 points) and started doing his damage in the second quarter. Neal went 5-5 from the field including 2-2 from long range.

Neal was the sole reason the Wizards hung around in the first half but the Wizards still trailed 58-54 at halftime.

After going scoreless in the last two games, Kris Humphries hit a corner three to start the third quarter to get on the scoring sheet. Every time the Wizards would get close and cut the lead to one, the Hornets would have an answer with a bucket on the other end.

The Wizards finally turned the corner midway through the third when they turned the Hornets over on three straight possessions all resulting in transition buckets. The Wizards used an 11-0 run and some very nice defense (first time I’ve said that all season) to regain the lead 81-74 at the end of the third.

All hell broke loose in the fourth quarter. Gary Neal hit a jumper at the 10:14 mark; that would be their only made field goal of the quarter as the Wizards went ice cold from the field. The Wizards scored just six points in the quarter including 17 straight misses from the field. Charlotte outscored the Wizards 27-6 in the fourth quarter and that seven point lead quickly turned into a double-digit deficit as the Hornets win 101-87.

Recap: Hornets at Wizards

The Wizards complete an improbable comeback to beat the Hornets in double overtime, 110-107. John Wall scored 32 points which is the second straight game for him with 30+ points. Drew Gooden was very valuable off the bench adding 15 points and 17 rebounds (5 offensive) for the team. The win snaps a four game losing streak.

The Wizards were looking to attack the rim and get some easy buckets early in this one. John Wall easily carved through the Hornets defense and was able to find Nene in transition for two easy lay ins to start the game. Three of their first five made field goals were in the paint as the Wizards started the game 5-10 from the field.

The Wizards defense came to play tonight. The Wizards had six blocks in the first quarter and nine overall for the game. Gortat had four of those six blocks in the first period. The Wizards started the game nicely and were up 28-19 after the first.

Mo Williams came in for the Hornets and picked up the scoring slack. Mo provided 26 points off the bench and came up just one rebound shy of a triple double (26 points, 10 assists, 9 rebounds).

Drew Gooden provided a much needed spark off the bench. Drew came in and hit his first four field goals in the second quarter. Additionally, he provided some much needed energy off the bench and played Al Jefferson well for a majority of the night.

The Hornets were able to make a late push towards the end of the second quarter. The Wizards were up but just five, 59-54 at the end of the first half.

Kemba Walker who was quiet for most of the game came in and knocked down a three to open the second half. Al Jefferson hit a close up lay in and just like that, the game was tied at 59. Not much went well for the Wizards as the Hornets used a 14-2 run to take a seven point lead at the 6:17 mark of the quarter. Drew Gooden hit a late three pointer but the Hornets were up 79-75 after three quarters.

Bradley Beal hit a fadeaway jumper over Kemba Walker to take a 83-82 lead early into the fourth quarter. Rasual Butler then got in on the action knocking down a three pointer to put the Wiz up four.

The Hornets on the other hand started the fourth quarter ice cold going 0-10 from the field. They didn’t score their first field goal until the 3:50 mark on a put back dunk from Al Jefferson. With the game seesawing back and forth, Kemba Walker hit two free throws to put the Hornets up 95-91 at the 14 second mark. Fans started exited the Verizon Center assuming the Wiz would drop their fifth straight game.

Not so fast, Rasual Butler hit a three pointer and then John Wall would hit a tough elbow jump shot to tie the game and we were going into overtime.

Mo Williams hit a three pointer to open the overtime for the Hornets. John Wall answered with a three of his own. The Wizards were able to regain the lead 101-99 on a transition lay in from Rasual Butler at the one minute mark. The Hornets would tie the game and we were going to a second overtime.

The Wizards hit some huge shots in the second overtime, particularly from John Wall who had five points in the period. None bigger than a tough fadeaway jump shot to put the Wiz up 110-107 at the nine second mark. The Wiz hang on to win.

The Win guarantees that the Wizards will not have a losing season. Unfortunately they did not clinch a playoff berth tonight since Boston and Brooklyn both won.

Recap: Wizards at Hornets

The Wizards go into Charlotte and win their first road game since January 27th, defeating the Hornets 95-69. Shooting was the difference in this one as the Wizards shot 52% from the field and the Hornets shot 33% and scored just 23 points in the second half.

Bradley Beal was back in the starting lineup for the Wizards after getting Saturday night off due to rest. He scored 14 points but it was Marcin Gortat who posted a very impressive 20 point, seven rebound double-double on 9-11 shooting.

This game felt like the first 30 this year. The team got out in transition, jump shots were falling, and they were getting nice contributions from the bench. The team stormed out to a 15-9 lead and never relinquished it the rest of the game. The Wizards were looking to push the ball often and were able to due to the poor shooting of the Hornets often leading to long rebounds. John Wall had three layups in the first quarter alone on coast-to-coast layups. Nene got in foul trouble early but it didn’t matter as Gortat picked up the slack.

Mo Williams and Al Jefferson kept the Hornets in this one. The two combined for 33 of the team’s 69 points. Mo Williams was letting it fly in the second quarter because quite frankly, their was no one else to produce any offense. The Hornets utilized a 6-0 run at the end of the second quarter to cut the lead to 10 and trailed 56-46 at halftime.

Al Jefferson hit a scooping layup to start the third quarter and Wizards fans started getting nervous. They weren’t going to blow another big lead were they? Marcin Gortat and Paul Pierce answered with buckets of their own to stretch the lead back out to 15.

The Hornets went on a five minute field goal drought until Lance Stephenson hit his famous shimmy step back at the 2:15 mark but the lead was still at 19. The Hornets were only able to muster up 14 points in the quarter as the Wizards lead after three, 77-60.

The bench carried this team the rest of the way. Kevin Seraphin who has been quiet the past few games got back into a rhythm hitting several hook shots. Otto Porter was active on the offensive glass and had a nice put back as well. The Wizards cruised the rest of the way as the Hornets only scored nine, yes nine points in the fourth quarter.

The Wizards win 95-69 against the Hornets who have snake-bitten them over the years. Garrett Temple went down pretty hard in the fourth quarter with a leg injury but hopefully it isn’t anything too serious. Wiz welcome the second best team in the West, Memphis Grizzles to Verizon Center on Thursday.