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State of the Wizards: Aiming for a winning record, Otto's always moving

State of the Wizards: Aiming for a winning record, Otto's always moving

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Can they get above .500? - After beating the Bucks in Milwaukee on Sunday afternoon, the Wizards find themselves at the .500 mark (18-18) for the second time this season. Last time they got here, at 16-16, they promptly lost two straight games. But those were on the road, where the Wizards have had major trouble this season. This next stretch in their schedule will offer plenty of games at the Verizon Center for them to rack up some Ws. 

Four of the Wizards' next five games are in Washington, where they are an impressive 14-6. And two of those games are against teams well below the .500 mark, the Sixers and Blazers. Securing a winning record would be a nice short-term goal for the Wizards and they are likely to reach it soon. They are 16-10 since beginning the season 2-8. That 16-10 mark is a 51-win pace over the course of a full season and it's not that small of a small sample size.

RELATED: Beal proving he is the opposite of soft

The Wizards' first opportunity will come against the Bulls on Tuesday night in Washington. If they win, they will go above .500 for the first time since Nov. 24, 2015 when they were 6-5.

Easier to score 50? - Sports Illustrated unearthed an amazing stat last week following Jimmy Butler's ' 52-point masterpiece against the Charlotte Hornets on Jan. 2. Butler was already the eighth different player to hit the 50-mark this season, tying the record for most in one NBA season with the 1989-90 campaign and last year. Considering there are three-plus more months of the NBA regular season left to play, that's very noteworthy.

Basically, there has been a huge increase in 50-point games in recent years. One of those performances this season was by John Wall, who had 52 himself on Dec. 6. Wall and others on the Wizards were asked this past week if they think it's easier now to score 50 points than it was in the past. The opinions varied:

Wall: "Might be so. There's more spacing out there. There's more spacing, there's a lot more fouls called and flagrant fouls, technical fouls; all of that's called that wasn't called back in that era. It was a lot more tough to get to the basket with hand-checking and all of that. I don't think those bigs back then would let us get to the basket so easy and score layups."

Bradley Beal: “I disagree. But at the same time I do agree because our eras were different. Foul calls were different. Guys shooting 20 free throws these days vs. however many they shoot back in the day. Guys are putting up, 50 you got to respect it.”

Scott Brooks: “I would probably say I disagree because it’s hard to score 50 points in a pickup game let alone an NBA game no matter what generation you’re playing in. Doesn’t happen often. The points have gone up. I think more teams are averaging more points this year than have in the last 25 years. It’s tough to score. Fifty points, that’s a number that’s not easy to get... There’s no question that [no hand-checking is] the biggest change. It was hard. You got these bigger point guards like Gary Payton, Derek Harper, hand-checking was part of the game. So you can basically where that point guard is going if they’re a bigger, stronger point guard. The rules are better now. It’s much more free-flowing. There’s so many more opportunities to drive and kick for threes. The three-point ball is exploding. There’s not a lot of guys that can score back to the basket. But I think if you’re growing up now days you walk in the gym you start shooting threes."

The other six besides Wall and Butler to drop 50 this year are Isaiah Thomas, Anthony Davis, Klay Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Who will be the ninth, if there is one? Beal has scored 40 or more twice already this season, so he's certainly capable.

Beal, by the way, suggested he thinks Westbrook's 17 triple-doubles this season are more impressive than the 50-point games:

"I would say Russ, having that many triple-doubles that many times in a row and being able to play that hard and at an elite level, that is kind of impressive and amazing to me. Just being able to play hard every single time you're on the floor and have no injuries and no splinters, just jumping and flying on the floor. Those things are impressive, but those are numbers. Guys are going to put up numbers every night. This is the game of basketball. It's not the first time we've seen guys score 40, 50 and above. It's just a trend where there's a lot of them this year. That's just the flow of the game. Guys are getting better."

Otto's always moving - Otto Porter may not be as fastest guy or play the most minutes, but every time he's on the court he's active on both ends of the floor. On offense he's cutting towards and away from the basket, while on defense he's usually guarding a mobile swingman. The result of all that has Porter near the top of the NBA in distance traveled per game.

Porter covers an average of 2.47 miles per game, which is tops on the Wizards and 11th overall in basketball. Beal offered a theory as to why that is:

"Otto's always moving without the ball. That's just a tale of what he does for us and the type of player that he is. He doesn't move at a fast pace, but he moves comfortably and he moves well without the ball probably better than most of us on the team. It's tough logging those many miles and putting that stress on your body, but he handles it well. He plays the three and the four, so it's a little tough on him. But he accepts it."

Eastern Conference standings

Stat line of the week: Marcin Gortat 1/6 vs. T'Wolves - 19 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, 9-for-9 FG

RELATED: VIDEO: Kid has meltdown during danceoff at Wizards game

Quote of the Week

"That's a little crazy to me. There's no way he should be that low. He averages a double-double. He's probably playing the best out of all the guards in the East."

- Beal on his teammate Wall placing 7th among guards in the East in NBA All-Star fan voting

Tweet (or Instagram) of the Week

Road ahead

Mon. - OFF
Tue. - 7 p.m. vs. Chicago Bulls (CSN)
Wed. - 8 p.m. at Boston Celtics (CSN)
Thu. - OFF
Fri. - OFF
Sat. - 8 p.m. vs. Philadelphia 76ers (CSN)
Sun. - OFF

RELATED: Oubre tries to pronounce Antetokounmpo, has trouble

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Morning tip: Wizards' defensive principles go on hiatus for Game 3

Morning tip: Wizards' defensive principles go on hiatus for Game 3

ATLANTA -- The first true shots fired in a seven-game series don't come from the budding rivalry between Paul Millsap and Markieff Morris. It comes when the visiting team wins. That hasn't occured between the Wizards and Atlanta Hawks just yet as both have held serve on their own floors.

Saturday's 116-98 victory by Atlanta trims the series deficit to 2-1, with a pivotal Game 4 at Phillips Arena on Monday. 

Sometimes to win on the road in the postseason, it requires winning ugly. The Wizards got half of it right with the ugly part, except they lost.

"We just weren't defending," said Bradley Beal, who had just 12 points on 6-for-20 shooting that included missing all six three-point looks. "We had a lot of great looks, a lot of missed shots but we still gave ourselves a chance to win defensively. We didn't do it. We got to be better. We know we got to defend in order to win."

Dennis Schroder had 27 points as he got into the paint on a regular basis. Paul Millsap had 29 points and 14 rebounds as he did all of his work in the trenches. The Hawks won the battle of rebounds (50-42), shooting (49.4%-41.6%) and forced the action as evidenced by foul shots attempted (32-20). 

[RELATED: Millsap reacts to Morris' crybaby comment on live TV]

The Wizards have yet to play anywhere close to their best basketball in the series. Beal hasn't shot well at all. He's 27-for-68, or 39.7%. From three-point range, he's 6-for-27, or 22.2%.

There hasn't been anything unique happening to cause him to sputter. The Hawks aren't trapping him. They're soft on their coverages with the help off screens. They're more concerned about packing the paint to prevent finishes at the rim by Beal and John Wall. 

It all goes back, however, to the lack of defense that plagued Washington in Game 3. Schroder, for instance, isn't a shooter despite his 6-for-8 start. He went 4-for-14 after the first quarter. 

"We were doing our concepts. They were knocking down shots," Beal said. "We didn't necessarily think everybody would make it. We live with some. Some we don't. We have to know our personnel a little bit better. We got to do better pressuruing the ball. We weren't into the ball enough."

When the Hawks opened in D.C., they were hoping for a split in the first two games. Didn't happen. The Wizards will be content with a split, too, but if that doesn't happen they still will have the home-court edge. 

[RELATED: Is John Wall a top five point guard?]

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VIDEO: Paul Millsap reacts to Morris' crybaby comment, says it's now personal

VIDEO: Paul Millsap reacts to Morris' crybaby comment, says it's now personal

Markieff Morris called Paul Millsap a "crybaby" following the Wizards' Game 3 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night and that comment came just in time before Millsap took the podium.

That offered reporters to toss the quote back to Millsap and get his reaction. Millsap had a pretty good line about Morris needing to go back to the hotel and "take his loss."

Watch Millsap's reaction right here. Dennis Schroder was also there to react:

[RELATED: 10 must-see moments from Wizards' Game 3 loss to Hawks]