• Chalkbeat

Turnovers Crush Wizards' Dreams


It was a day of reflection. Across the nation, people have rekindled the memory of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his breath-taking sermon addressed first to a crowd and country, then echoed through generations.

We are privileged to enjoy our January 15th minutes away from the reflecting pool, home to the most timeless collection of words to grace an eardrum.

“To be able to play in this city is an honor,” said Wizards’ leader John Wall, reiterating our sentiments, though with a grain of salt. “I think he still won’t be satisfied… [but] we’ll still try to get everything right as best we can.”

Wall could also be talking about today’s game.

Any season-ticket holder could be led to think Washington employs a home-court disadvantage at Capitol One Arena. As I highlighted after the Utah game last Wednesday, the Wizards are usually vigilant with the basketball. In their five-game “home” stand, they’ve averaged 17.4 turnovers, a number that would make them second-worst in the league if it stuck. They just topped last week’s season-high with 24 today.

“Twenty-four turnovers is basically one entire quarter not playing offense,” said a frustrated Scott Brooks.

That frustration is very tangible. Washington took another loss to a team that, quite frankly, they should beat decisively. This one came by way of poor late-game execution and ignorance for small details. Defensive rebounds, layups, free throws…the lack of devotion to these things made a direct impact on the outcome of the game. There wasn’t a hint of passion for anything menial.

The Wizards were up 92-89 at about the halfway mark through the fourth quarter. In those last six minutes, Milwaukee savored a 15-3 run like Momma’s cooking, licking the sauce off their fingers and all.

Before that run escorted Washington’s fan base back into the cold, good things retained hopeful hearts. The play of the Washington’s top bench players, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and Tomas Satoransky was inspiring and foreshadowing.

Oubre continued his recent display of confidence. He was deliberate, decisive, aggressive, and energetic. That last adjective has always adhered to him. It’s the former three that raise buoyant eyebrows. During this five-game home stand, the fan favorite K.O. is averaging 14.4 ppg and shooting 50% from three. Today he was 3-for-5 from three and never thought twice. This is the same guy who shot 29.8% on threes just one year ago. No, I am not lying. I was there.

Satoransky, the backup combo guard with size and defensive discipline, also impressed. Against Milwaukee, he showcased a bit more, taking flight for a couple of big dunks that brought the Arena to its feet.

“We have an athletic team,” he explained. “I took advantage and saw Brad [Beal] and John [Wall] and [got some] easy points.”

It felt like Giannis Antetokounmpo struggled offensively all game, but he still wiggled his way to an impressive stat line. With a quiet 27 points and a career-high 20 rebounds, Antetokounmpo reminded the league of why he is this year’s scariest matchup.

Jason Kidd, Milwaukee’s sideline superior, highlighted his effort among praise for the whole team.

“Giannis has a 20-20 game and just shows he is going to do everything to put his team in a position to win,” said Kidd with pride.

Milwaukee is probably the lankiest team in the league. With their length, they can sink their defense in, baiting offenses to bite the hook. The Bucks’ fourteen steals were a combination of that strategy and Washington’s infatuation for carelessness.

After nursing a strained hip, Otto Porter is still finding his rhythm. It’s a process, getting back into that rhythm, and Porter’s success has a direct correlation to the team’s success.

“We’d like to get Otto more, but he needs to help himself get more,” said an irritated Brooks. “Bottom line is Otto needs to get himself open and be ready to catch and shoot.”

Wall obliviously echoed these statements. “He’s also gotta do a better job himself at just being aggressive when he gets it,” he told us, as his coach’s words reverberated through his own voice.

That’s Wall with another potential double-entendre. The team didn’t seem to seize the game in the chances they were awarded.

Washington just went 2-3 in a five-game home stand, against four teams with a combined winning percentage of .395. Not the least embarrassing stat. With a five-game road trip looming, the team has a chance to rejuvenate their morale and chemistry. Not to mention Otto has more time to ice that hip.

Catch us Wednesday night at 10 on 94.3 FM. Break!

#Wizards

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Takoma Park, DC

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