The solution to Scott Brooks’ bench lineups

Death, taxes, and all-bench lineups.

Ever since Scott Brooks took over at the helm as the Wizards’ head coach, it’s been clear that he prefers using a long bench, and playing them together to build cohesion. Whether it was sticking with 2016’s historically bad bench, the ‘not terrible but still not good’ reserve unit of 2017, or this year’s up-and-down reserves—he doesn’t deviate much from his pattern of subbing all of the starters to get a breather in the late first quarter and early second quarter.

We’re less than one-fifth of the way through the season, but many of the bench’s problematic issues have flared up, even though this was supposed to be Washington’s deepest team under Brooks’ watch. With streaky players like Jeff GreenAustin Rivers, and Kelly Oubre Jr. coming off the pine, there have been nights where one of them explodes and carries the team for a stretch, but there have been just as many nights where the bench squanders a lead before the starters can down a cup of water.

Brooks has made one tweak to the rotation that fans have been clamoring for years – bringing in Oubre as the first sub at the six-minute mark for Otto Porter and letting Porter start the second and fourth quarters with the reserves.

The Kelly Oubre experience is already in full effect. He has the tools to go off for a big game as he did against Blazers, Warriors, and Kings; but he still makes many of the same mistakes that haunted him during his rookie and sophomore seasons. A lot of that is on Oubre, but the coaching staff needs to take some of the blame here because they haven’t catered to his strengths by playing him alongside four other players with unclear roles.

Plugging him in with the starters off the bench does wonders for both parties. It allows Oubre to be the fourth or fifth option, where he gets less defensive attention and can take more advantage of his biggest strength, his athleticism. All he has to do alongside Wall is run the floor and bring energy. In return, Wall gets another person to run with in transition and someone who can lighten his load on the defensive end.

Otto Porter would also be a beneficiary should Brooks continue to go with this approach. Porter has been in and out of Brooks’ doghouse this season, but giving him the green light with the reserves could be a way for both sides to get what they want. Whether you’re in the ‘Otto isn’t aggressive enough’ group or on the ‘Wizards coaching staff doesn’t run enough plays for Porter’ side of the fence, here’s an opportunity to change both narratives as he’d be the focal point of that unit, not to mention, probably the best player on the floor at that time.

This has the makings of a win-win for both guys as Oubre would be put in a better position to succeed, and Porter could continue to be an outstanding third option while also having a shot to be an alpha for the bench unit.

We’ve seen Brooks coach up close and personal for two years full seasons and some change now and it’s clear that some habits die hard with him. There isn’t really a downside to utilizing this rotation more as this current iteration of the all-bench unit has had a rocky start to the year. And the upside? It might generate more confidence in two of the more up-and-down players on this roster, which would be a huge boost for the team.

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Wizards vs. Heat final score: Wizards lose opener 113-112 on Kelly Olynyk’s last-second putback

It’s that guy again, huh?

In a game that featured 21 lead changes and 19 ties, no basket was more important than Kelly Olynyk’s putback off a Dwayne Wade miss with 0.2 seconds to play in regulation to spoil the Wizards’ regular season opener, 113-112.

The Wizards were looking for a fresh start to the season after last year’s shortcomings, and John Wall looked ready to provide it early. The All-Star reminded everyone what he’s capable of when playing on two healthy knees as he crossed over for a layup and hit a three in transition for the Wizards first five points of the season.

Scott Brooks wants the Wizards taking more three-pointers this year and Markieff Morris took well to that message knocking down both attempts in the first quarter as Washington jumped out to a quick 17-6 lead. But as we’ve become accustomed to with Brooks, he went with the dreaded all-bench lineup that brought the Wizards’ offense to a screeching halt as Miami trimmed the lead to one, 25-24 after the first quarter.

To no surprise, Brooks stuck with the reserves to start the second quarter until the 8-minute mark. For as great as the first nine minutes of the first quarter was for the Wizards, the final eight minutes of the second quarter were equally as bad. Poor defensive effort, missed free throws, and a slew of fouls allowed Miami to hang around. Even with all the mishaps, the Wizards somehow led 59-58 at halftime.

That poor play carried over into the third quarter as the Heat went on a 7-0 run to take a 69-62 lead. Midway through the third period, Jason Smith and Hassan Whiteside dove for a loose ball resulting in a tie up. John Wall ran right at Derrick Jones Jr. and had some words for him as he swiped the ball away from Smith. Wall picked up a technical foul, because, does the game really count if the Wizards don’t get a technical foul?

Washington bounced back with a 10-0 run and regained the lead, 87-85 after three quarters. The teams traded baskets and free throws for most of the fourth quarter but the Miami Heat came up with the big plays when they counted. And more importantly, corralled loose balls (i.e. Olynyk’s offensive rebound) and hit their free-throws.

This was an all too familiar ending for a team who looked awfully similar to last year’s underwhelming squad.

Takeaways

John Wall looks just fine

John Wall will be under a magnifying glass this season and specifically, his knee, but he didn’t disappoint tonight. Wall scored a team-high 26 points to go along with 9 assists in a typical John Wall game.

On the very first play of the game, Wall crossed over for an easy layup at the rim. Next time down, he pulled up for three giving Washington a 5-0 lead in the blink of an eye. But it wasn’t just his scoring early on that was impressive; it was his effort on the defensive end in the first quarter. Wall looked much more energized on the defensive end resulting in deflections and fast break opportunities for the Wizards on the offensive end.

Wall was the only Wizards player to score in double digits in the first half as he notched 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting through the first 24 minutes.

That aggressiveness carried over into the second half as Wall fearlessly attacked the hole and looked like his old self getting out in transition. Outside of a few missed free-throws, there’s not a whole lot to complain about from Wall tonight.

New season, same rotations

Many think this year’s bench is the deepest Washington has had during the Wall era. We got our first taste of the all-reserve unit at the 2:55 mark of the first quarter with the Wizards up 19-13. After a nice drive from Austin Rivers, the Washington offense sputtered with Miami outscoring the Wizards 11-6 the rest of the quarter.

The Wizards carried a 4+ minute field goal drought into the second quarter allowing Miami to tie the game at 33 just minutes into the second period, which forced Brooks to start reinserting his starters.

The All-Reserve unit was a bit better in the second half but still, nothing to write home about. Regardless of who’s on his roster, it doesn’t look like Brooks is going to change his substitution patterns.

Wizards must rely on small ball even though it isn’t the long-term solution

Ian Mahinmi played well in the first quarter but outside of that, the Wizards didn’t get much production from the true center position. Mahinmi and Jason Smith each ended the night with four fouls and were glued to the bench in the second half as neither were viable options.

Jeff Green played terrific tonight as a fill-in at the center position but this won’t be a long-term solution for the Wizards evidenced as they got crushed on the glass, 55-40.

Game 1 Overreactions

  • It doesn’t look like Kelly Oubre is going to take that next step. He was 2-of-8 from the field.
  • The Otto Porter debate will continue all season long. He snagged 11 rebounds but didn’t attempt a single 3-pointer.
  • John Wall is the Wizards best post defender.
  • The Wizards have a huge hole at the center position.
  • Bradley Beal’s head-scratching free-throw issues continue. He was 4-of-6 at the line.
  • The Wizards will probably lead the league in technical fouls this season.

 

Wizards at Raptors Game 5 final score: Washington falls apart late in 108-98 loss to Toronto

The Wizards had no answer for DeMar DeRozan who scored a game-high 32 points as the Raptors beat the Wizards 108-98 taking a 3-2 series lead. Kyle Lowry scored 17 points but Delon Wright exploded for 18 off the bench for a Toronto team who can now close this series out on Friday night.

John Wall tried to will the Wizards to victory with 26 points, 9 assists, and 9 rebounds, but he ran out of gas late and none of the other Washington players were able to pick up the slack.

Bradley Beal scored 20 points and Kelly Oubre had a nice game with 14 points but it wouldn’t be enough as the Wizards now find themselves on the brink of elimination.

Washington falls apart in the fourth quarter

Washington played outstanding tonight – through three quarters. The Wizards took every punch from the Raptors but the one Toronto landed in the fourth quarter was just too much for Washington to overcome.

The Wizards led by five, 87-82 on a Kelly Oubre dunk just minutes into the fourth quarter and it looked like they might go on a run.

But that’s when everything started to fall apart as Toronto outscored the Wizards 26-11 to close out the game after that play. Regular season bad habits like turnovers, being loose with the ball, and taking very tough shots reared their ugly heads late in the game as Washington started the quarter just 6-17 from the field and scored just 20 points in the period.

Tip your cap to the Raptors’ bench, mainly, Delon Wright who came alive in the fourth quarter. With Toronto up one and the shot clock winding down, Wright hit a three from the right wing to put Toronto up 97-93 and the scoring onslaught ensued. The Wizards looked gassed down the stretch and showed no life over the final six minutes of the game as the final score wasn’t indicative of how close this game was.

Washington needs a complete 48-minute effort on Friday if they’re going to keep their season alive. Because like we saw in Game 1 and again tonight, playing the Raptors tough for 3.5 quarters isn’t enough to come away with the win.

A third scorer never emerges

John Wall continued to stuff the stat sheet with 26 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 assists. Bradley Beal chipped in with 20 (just 3 in the fourth quarter) but the team didn’t get a whole lot of offense from anyone else aside from Kelly Oubre (14 points).

The Wizards looked like they were trying to get Otto Porter going early on as he scored four points on 2-3 shooting in the opening minutes of the game. But Porter never really got going after that opening stretch as he ended the night with just nine points on 4-9 shooting.

Bradley Beal struggled once again in the fourth quarter as he only scored three points – on a three-pointer in garbage time. With Beal missing shots and Wall looking gassed in the fourth quarter, no one else emerged to get baskets for the Wizards.

That was the difference tonight as the backcourts essentially canceled each other out but Toronto had a third guy (Wright) explode for 18 points whereas Washington did not.

Washington couldn’t buy a basket in the second quarter

Ty Lawson drove into the teeth of the defense finding Kelly Oubre on the left wing for a three-pointer at the 9:02 mark giving Washington a 33-31 lead. After that bucket, the Wizards would go ice cold from the field.

Washington’s next made field goal came on a runner at the 3:56 mark to end what was a five minute and six second drought without a made basket. Fortunately for the Wizards, they were playing stout defense and were and were getting to the line where they knocked down 8-11 attempts in the first half.

Washington shot just 7-21 (33 percent) in the period and all things considered, it could have been a whole lot worse as the Wizards were down just one, 48-47 at halftime.

If I told you before the game that the Wizards would shoot 37.5 percent from the field in the first half yet would trail by just one, 48-47 at halftime; we’d all take it.

Game Notes

  • Marcin Gortat turned in another nice game with 10 points and 12 rebounds
  • The rotations and late game play calls remain a head-scratcher for this Washington team
  • The Wizards shot just 5-26 from three-point range
  • When a series is tied at two games apiece, the winner of Game 5 goes on to win the series 83 percent of the time

Raptors at Wizards Game 4: Washington turns in a gritty performance for a 106-98 victory over Toronto

Bradley Beal fouled out with just under four minutes to play with the game tied at 92 sucking all the life out of Capital One Arena. Even though the game was tied, the Wizards looked defeated. But the Wizards, the up-and-down Wizards, they don’t know what to expect next Wizards persevered and closed the game on a 14-4 run and beat the Raptors 106-98 evening the series at two games apiece.

Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 31 points and John Wall added 27 as the Washington backcourt one-ups the Toronto backcourt of Lowry and DeRozan outscoring them 58-54 tonight. Otto Porter was quiet in the first half but scored 11 in the second half for the Wizards who have now won eight straight home playoff games dating back to last season.

Things looked bleak for the home squad early on. With the refs calling the game tight, the Raptors, well mainly DeMar DeRozan were in ultra-attack mode. DeRozan went right at the Wizards and as a result, got 12 free throw attempts (made 9) in just the first quarter alone. The Wizards, on the other hand, couldn’t buy a bucket. Washington shot just 36 percent from the field in the first quarter and trailed 30-22 after one period.

That stagnant offense carried over to the second quarter where John Wall and Bradley Beal took turns going one-on-one against the Toronto defense. To no one’s surprise, that didn’t work either and the Wizards managed to shoot even worse (34 percent) in the second quarter trailing 51-40 at halftime.

Washington’s offense finally got going in the third quarter, once they were able to run. The Wizards got out in transition and Porter was the beneficiary knocking down two three-pointers in as many possessions to cut into the Raptors lead. Marcin Gortat, who scored 12 points tonight had two buckets from close is as Washington used a 13-2 run to tie the game at 58 in the third period.

Washington opened the period 13-20 from the field and matched their first-half point production with 40 in the third quarter, as we’d be all tied up at 80 after three.

All that excitement looked like it would be short-lived as the Raptors opened the period on an 8-0 run taking an 88-80 lead. But Bradley Beal would come alive knocking down a three in transition and two free throws to tie the game again at 90.

That’s when all hell broke loose. With just four minutes to play, DeMar DeRozan stumbled over Beal’s foot in what was a very questionable foul call, fouling Beal out of the game. With the game tied at 92, the Wizards would have to play the last three minutes and change without their best scorer.

But that’s when the Wizards locked in defensively. Washington was able to limit Lowry and DeRozan down the stretch who’d been killing them all night. DeRozan missed four of his last five shots to end the game and the Wizards knocked down their free throws to ice it.

We’ve got a brand new series as we’re all tied up at two games apiece now.

Wall and Beal outduel DeRozan and Lowry for a second straight game

John Wall and Bradley Beal got the best of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry as the duo combined for 58 points. Wall scored 27 of those to go along with 14 assists and six rebounds in the Wizards victory.

Bradley Beal continued his hot shooting out of the gate with nine points on 4-6 shooting in the first quarter. Wall and Beal were the only Wizards players who could do anything on the offensive end in the first half scoring 23 of the Wizards’ 40 points.

Beal got going yet again in the third quarter with five quick points to get the Wizards back within striking distance. John Wall’s jumper was falling too as he was knocking down his pull-up and elbow jumper with consistency. Wall was able to get to the line tonight but knocked down just 7 of his 10 attempts. But as Wall does best, he was getting others involved, dishing out most of his 14 assists after halftime.

DeMar DeRozan was unstoppable tonight scoring a game-high 35 points this evening. The Wizards had no answer for DeRozan early on as he got in the paint, knocked down long twos, and was able to get to the line evidenced by his 18 free throw attempts. The Wizards had no answer for the All-Star through three quarters but were able to put the clamps on him in the fourth quarter.

To no one’s surprise, another ‘House of Guards’ game results in another Washington victory.

Good Oubre Bad Oubre was on full display tonight

Kelly Oubre’s rollercoaster of a season continued tonight as the third-year player could not knock down a jump shot. However, that didn’t prevent him from attacking the hole and getting to the line. Once Oubre realized his shot wasn’t falling, he’d stick his head down and attack the hole – sometimes resulting in a layup, sometimes resulting in a foul, and other times, resulting in a turnover. Oubre’s 10 points off the bench were highest amongst Washington reserves tonight and the Wizards needed every one of them.

Oubre came up big for the Wizards on the defensive end with the role of stopping DeRozan in the second half. He did about as good as a job as one could in stopping the All-NBA scorer. With Beal fouled out, Oubre did a terrific job snagging loose balls and coming up with two steals in the final four minutes.

The Wizards need this type of effort from Oubre if they are going to win this series.

Tip Ins

  • Marcin Gortat had another very nice game with 12 points (6-8 shooting) to go along with 6 rebounds

  • Otto Porter, who scored just one point in the first half ended the game with 12 including many timely buckets as the Wizards were mounting their comeback
  • The Wizards had another nice game defensively coming up with 10 steals and 8 blocks for the evening

Raptors at Wizards Game 3: Washington protects home court with 122-103 blowout win

John Wall and Bradley Beal explode for 28 points each as the Wizards stay alive in the series, blowing out the Raptors 122-103 on Friday night. Marcin Gortat had a throwback game with 16 points and five rebounds and Otto Porter chipped in with 8 points and 8 rebounds as the Wizards win their seventh straight home playoff game dating back to last season.

Everyone not named Bradley Beal looked tight for the Wizards to start this game. Beal, who took just 11 shots and scored only nine points in Game 2 was ultra aggressive early on scoring 12 points on 5-7 shooting in the first quarter.

But it was the energy from Kelly Oubre that jumpstarted the Wizards. Oubre was very active on the defensive end deflecting passes while also diving on the floor for loose balls. That activated an 11-2 run in the second quarter for the Wizards to take control of the game 69-61, at the break.

The second half was very chippy and will be something to keep an eye on as the series progresses. In the opening minutes of the third quarter, Wall threw an outlet pass to Beal who went up for the dunk and got hit across the head by Kyle Lowry resulting in a flagrant-1 foul. Just minutes later, Jonas Valanciunas got called for an offensive foul and when Beal went to grab the ball from Valanciunas, he wasn’t having it. The two got tangled up but it was Wall and Serge Ibaka who ended up getting into it and both picking up technical fouls.

That sparked another jolt into the Wizards as they went on a 12-2 run to go up 94-76 and never looked back in this one. Aside from a mini lag in the fourth quarter where the Raptors were able to claw within 13, Washington had this one in the bag.

Washington protects home court and are on the series scoreboard, 2-1.

We finally get a House of Guards game

One of these guys isn’t enough – the Wizards need both Bradley Beal and John Wall to play well if they’re going to win this series, and tonight they got it. The duo combined for 56 points, 18 assists (Wall with 14), and seven steals in this one. John Wall got off to a slow start connecting on just 1-4 field goal attempts but Beal snapped out of his mini-funk with 12 points on 5-7 shooting in the first quarter.

Wall looked to push the ball in transition tonight finding Beal in the corner for wide-open threes. In the halfcourt, Wall would drive baseline or into a crowded painted area only to kick it out to Beal for the wide-open jumper.

The House of Guards (do we still call them that?) combined for 40 of the Wizards 69 first-half points this evening.

In games 1 and 2, Wall was outstanding but Beal never arrived to the party. It’s nights like tonight that remind you what this team is capable of when both guys show up.

Washington shows up on the defensive end

This isn’t brain surgery here but when the Wizards lock in defensively, they’re a very good team. The Wizards played much better defense to start this one but you couldn’t tell by looking at the score as Toronto started the game 5-7 from the field including 3-4 from three-point range. But, active hands defensively, starting with Oubre, flipped the script for the Wizards in this one.

The Wizards got their hands on passes, were first to the floor, and forced Toronto into many mistakes as they turned 13 Raptors turnovers into 22 points in the first half alone. Many of those turnovers were of the live-ball variety and there’s no one better than Wall to push the ball on an odd-man break off of those live-ball turnovers.

Marcin Gortat had a bit of a throwback game tonight and played much better on Valanciunas even though he scored 14 points. Mahinmi stepped in and played his role as a rim protector with three blocks (all in the first half) and Mike Scott held his own against the likes of Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl.

The difference in defensive effort from Games 1 & 2 and tonight was night and day.

Tip Ins

  • Mike Scott was a perfect 4-4 from the field for 12 points and the dagger to all but end this one

  • Otto Porter only scored eight points tonight but knocked down two timely three-pointers at times where the Wizards’ lead was dwindling
  • Ty Lawson continues to provide value with 5 points, 2 assists, and 4 rebounds in just 15 minutes of play

Wizards vs. Raptors Game 2 final score: Washington can’t slow Toronto down in 130-119 loss

DeMar DeRozan scored 37 points and led a Toronto onslaught as the Raptors rolled over the Wizards 130-119 in Game 2 of their first-round series on Tuesday night.

John Wall scored a game-high 29 points to go along with 9 assists but got next to no help from his fellow starters. The rest of the starting five combined for 27 only points. Mike Scott, arguably the second best player on the Wizards in this series had a nice game with 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting and 4-of-5 from three-point range and Ty Lawson, playing his first game as a Wizard, added 14 points and 8 assists off the bench.

Toronto started the game where they left off from the last one, connecting on their first four field goals and forcing Scott Brooks to burn an early timeout. The timeout didn’t work. The Raptors knocked down seven three-pointers in the opening period en route to a franchise-record 44-point first quarter.

Washington started the second quarter connecting on their first six field goals but unfortunately for the Wizards, they couldn’t get any defensive stops. They trailed 76-58 at halftime and if it weren’t for Mike Scott scoring 14 first-half points, it could have been way uglier.

Washington got back into the game with a better second half. They trimmed the deficit to 10 at end of the third quarter and even cut the lead to five, 108-103, in the fourth quarter. But as soon as they got within an arm’s reach, Toronto countered with a 17-4 run to pull away and send the Wizards back home down 0-2.

Takeaways

This one was over early

Otto Porter knocked down a midrange jumper to start the game as the Wizards took a 2-0 lead. But, that was just about the only thing that went well for the Wizards in a nightmarish first quarter for Washington where they showed just about as much intensity as they would in a mid-January game against the Atlanta Hawks.

Washington’s regular season bad habits, mainly on the defensive end, reared their ugly head from the get-go. The Wizards couldn’t get a stop in the first quarter if their life depended on it and lapses occurred in a variety of ways. Toronto had the ball on a string, and that had Washington scrambling and more often than not, creating wide-open three-point attempts for the Raptors.

With the Wizards already in a 17-6 hole, John Wall picked up his second foul of the game on an offensive foul where he was out of control driving through the lane at the 7:42 mark of the first quarter. His early foul trouble led Ty Lawson to see his first action as a Wizard. To make matters worse, Bradley Beal picked up his second foul and was forced to go to the bench at the 3:59 mark of the period all but erasing Washington’s hopes in this one not even one quarter into the game.

Toronto shot 59 percent from the field and knocked down 7-13 three-point attempts en route to a franchise-high 44-point first quarter.

The Wizards trailed by as many as 22 points in a quarter that featured two separate 10-0 runs by the Raptors.

All Washington starters not named John Wall no-showed tonight

John Wall led the Wizards with 29 points and 9 assists with most of his damage coming after halftime as he was sidelined for most of the first half with foul trouble. He was much more aggressive in the second half and again, was not settling for jumpers. He got to the hole and finished and got to the stripe as well, knocking down all 11 free-throw attempts.

Unfortunately for Wall and the Wizards, he was the only starter who played well. Porter, Morris, Beal, and Gortat combined for 27 points on 32 shots. Morris was -31 on the night and Beal was a -34, the worst plus/minus for a Wizards player in a playoff in 20 years.

Game Notes

Wizards vs. Bulls final score: Wall-less Washington falls flat in 113-94 loss to Chicago

The Chicago Bulls, who rank 25th in three-point shooting, knocked down 18 shots from deep as the Bulls blew out the Wizards 113-94 in the latest #SoWizards loss of the season on Sunday afternoon. Lauri Markkanen, who knocked down five 3-pointers, led the Bulls with 23 points and Bobby Portis added 18 to help the Bulls avoid the season sweep against the Wizards.

Otto Porter scored a team-high 17 points for the Wizards and Mike Scott added 14 points off the bench, but don’t let the stat sheet fool you, the Wizards didn’t get much help from anyone else.

Washington fell behind quickly as Chicago went 8-for-11 on threes in the first quarter to take a 36-21 lead. Washington was able to claw their way back in the game in the second quarter with solid bench play. The reserves combined for 20 points in the opening half and trimmed the deficit to four, 45-41 midway through the quarter.

Unfortunately for the Wizards, careless play from the starters carried over into the second half and the game got out of hand pretty quickly in the third quarter. When it was all said and done, the Wizards gave up 113 points on 52.4 percent shooting from the field and 52.9 percent shooting from deep. It’s Chicago’s fifth-best shooting performance of the season and tied for their best performance of the season from long range.

Takeaways

Washington can’t overcome Chicago’s blazing hot first-half shooting

Chicago was on fire to start this one.

Nearly everything that Bobby Portis, Lauri Markkanen, and Justin Holiday threw up went in as the trio combined for 40 points in the first half including a 9-for-11 performance from three-point range. Chicago rode poor Washington defense combined with red-hot shooting as the Bulls used a 14-0 run in the first quarter to take a 36-21 lead.

The hot shooting carried over into the second quarter as they knocked down 10 of their first 14 shots to start the period and increase their lead after the Washington reserves trimmed it down to four.

Washington dug themselves into too big of a hole and was never ever to come back in this one as they gave up 11 threes and 68 points on 64 percent shooting to a lottery-bound Bulls team in the first half.

Aside from Otto Porter, the starters were awful today

You may look at the box score and think some of the starters not named Otto Porter played OK in this one – but don’t let the numbers fool you. Yes, Bradley Beal and Marcin Gortat scored in double-figures this afternoon, however, there was no fight and energy from the starting five today.

Chicago was running a clinic on how to burn your opposition with backdoor cuts as Washington fell asleep defensively too many times. The starters were a step slow in their closeouts resulting in open looks for Chicago. They also provided no resistance in the paint, which allowed the Bulls to get shots from close in or kick the ball out to open shooters on the perimeter.

Outside of Porter, the starters looked disinterested in this game. But, we’ve seen this movie before – many times.

On the bright side, Washington only has two games left against teams with losing records (Atlanta, at Orlando).

Kelly Oubre’s shooting struggles continue

If it isn’t a layup or dunk, Kelly Oubre isn’t making it. His shooting struggles continued once again as he was a horrid 2-for-8 from the field and missed all three of his 3-point attempts. He curled off a screen for a nice drive to the hole for his first basket of the game and it looked like that might get him going. But then he started taking shots outside of the painted area, and that’s when things went sour.

He missed every shot that wasn’t a layup or dunk and has made just one of his last 26 3-point attempts. Washington needs Oubre to break out of this slump in the worst way.

Game Notes

  • You know how the rule goes, “If Jason Smith throws down a thunderous jam, the Wizards are a lock to win.” Well, rules are meant to be broken:

  • Speaking of Jason Smith, coach Brooks opted to play Smith over Ian Mahinmi at the backup center position. It’s Mahinmi’s second DNP-CD of the season.
  • With the loss, the Wizards are now 4 games behind the Pacers for fifth place, which essentially locks them into the sixth, seventh, or eight seed.
  • John Wall did not play in this one as a precaution after making his return on Saturday.

Next up: The Wizards are heading to Texas to face the top-ranked team in the West, the Houston Rockets, on Tuesday at 8 p.m.