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Ariza’s offensive struggles continue

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Ariza’s offensive struggles continue

Trevor Ariza's transition with the Wizards to date let's call it bumpy. Or clanking. Let's just not call it smooth, not yet.
 
Against the Knicks in Thursday's preseason game, Ariza missed six of seven shots including all three inside the 3-point arc and finished with seven points. Through two games, Washington's current starting small forward is 3-for-15 from the field with seven turnovers, though six came in the opener at Charlotte.
 
Ideally, the 27-year-old serves as a complimentary player within the starting unit - primary wing defender, fast break partner for John Wall. With the current lineup missing Wall and others, Ariza's tasked with not only being the experienced hand - his eight NBA seasons top the seven combined by Washington's other starters against New York - but also a primary threat.
 
"He’s, I think, trying to fit in," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said following the 108-101 loss to New York. "What he’s doing is determining plays in his mind no matter what the defense is doing, and he can’t do that. He’s got to do a better job."
 
The career 32 percent shooter from 3-point range also must do a better job in his coach's estimation of taking the opportunities presented through the play execution.
 
"I thought one of the first possessions of the game, he had a wide open three, and he turned it down and drove it into three guys and tried to get a shot off," Wittman said. "It’s hard in this league to get an open jump shot, and if we pass up an open jump shot, the next shot is going to be a bad shot, guaranteed."
 
With Wittman and the coaching staff still learning how best to use their many new pieces, both starting and rotational roles are still in flux (at least for those not named John Wall, Nene and likely Emeka Okafor). The coach hinted at changes for Saturday's starting lineup at Cleveland. Regardless of whether he is on court for that opening tap or not, Ariza likely hasn't shot himself out of the first team mix when the games turn real. Still, it would be nice if he could turn those numbers around, like

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' loss to L.A. Clippers

5 must-see moments from Wizards' loss to L.A. Clippers

Here are five plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 133-124 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center on Wednesday night that are worth revisiting...

1. John Wall put in one of his best efforts of the season in the Wizards' loss to L.A. It was spoiled by one of the team's worst defensive outings.

Wall ended up with 41 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and three steals. On this play in the first quarter Marcin Gortat set him up for a breakaway slam:

2. Wall was just getting started in a game that featured many dunks, including this one from Jason Smith that had Twitter going nuts:

Smith had 14 points and eight rebounds off the bench.

3. Kelly Oubre, Jr. had another solid night with 10 points, six rebounds and two steals. He had two offensive rebounds, one of them on this putback slam:

4. Bradley Beal also had a good game offensively with 27 points. He hits two threes, the second one to set a Wizards/Bullets franchise record for three-pointers (206) in a season:

5. This Wall dunk was about as emphatic as any he's had all year and it was part of a late comeback effort by the Wizards that made it interesting late in the fourth:

One key moment in this game was when Markieff Morris got ejeteced. He was having one of his best games in a while with 14 points in 15 minutes, but said something the ref reallly didn't like:

And finally, here's Chick Hernandez doing a great impression during the postgame show. Steve Buckhantz couldn't get enough of it:

The Wizards are one win away from having their best record since the 1978-79 season, but it will have to wait at least another few days. The Wizards pick back up on Friday at the Utah Jazz.

[RELATED: Wizards Tipoff podcast, Ep. 6 - Oubre goes 1-on-1]

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Morning tip: John Wall adds to argument for All-NBA recognition with 41 points vs. Clippers

Morning tip: John Wall adds to argument for All-NBA recognition with 41 points vs. Clippers

LOS ANGELES -- Scott Brooks didn't realize a lot of things before taking the job with the Wizards. He didn't know they hadn't won a division title in four decades. He also didn't know that his four-time All-Star point guard, John Wall, had never been chosen for the All-NBA team. 

Wednesday, Wall scored 41 points in a 133-124 loss at the L.A. Clippers. He shot 16 of 23 and had eight assists, seven rebounds and three steals. In the two previous games on this road trip, he had 37 points, 11 assists and four rebounds in a win at the Cleveland Cavaliers and 34 points, 14 assists and four steals in beating the L.A. Lakers.

"I didn't realize until about two or three weeks ago that he wasn't All-NBA yet," Brooks said. "There's no question, what he has done this year to lead us and to put us in this position, that's All-NBA. He's one of the top players in the league, not just at his position, not just in his conference. He's definitely All-NBA."

In his seventh season, Wall has posted career-bests of 23.2 points and 10.8 assists and led the Wizards to their first division title in 38 years. 

Wall has come close, such as making All-NBA defensive second team in 2015, but he has never been recognized as one of the league's 15 best players. It appeared he'd be a lock two years ago when he was voted a starter in the All-Star Game and had a better invidiual season than Kyrie Irving.

Irving, however, played next to LeBron James, garnered more attention despite never leading the Cavaliers to more than 33 wins pre-James. He got the nod instead.

The Wizards are in the mix for a No. 1 seed in the East, though they lack tiebreakers with the Cavaliers, Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors. But a top-four seed is all but certain. 

No longer are they a team that wiggled its way into a No. 5 seed during playoff runs in 2014 and '15 to pull off first-round upsets. They're now among the elite teams in the league, and he's the best player. That alone should get Wall over the hump.

[RELATED: VIDEO: Beal sets Wizards franchise record for threes]