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Takeaways from Wizards' win over Bulls to extend home streak

Takeaways from Wizards' win over Bulls to extend home streak

This looked like a repeat of what happened almost a year ago, when the Wizards were desperately trying to get over .500 and went to play the depleted Chicago Bulls only to lose. They overcame an 18-point deficit Tuesday to win 101-99 in a game that was much harder than it should’ve been and saved by consecutive jumpers from John Wall.

The Bulls (19-20) were without Jimmy Butler (illness), Dwyane Wade (scheduled rest), and Nikola Mirotic (illness). That didn’t prevent them from getting out to a blazing start fueled by 13 first-half turnovers from Washington (19-18).

Wall (26 points, 14 assists) posted his 23rd double-double, followed by Bradley Beal (19 points), Markieff Morris (19 points), Otto Porter (11 points) and Marcin Gortat (10 points, 12 rebounds). Wall's jump shot with 47.4 seconds tied the score at 99 and at 5.9 seconds set the final margin as the Wizards lead the season series 2-1 with one meeting left vs. Chicago.

For Chicago, Denzel Valentine (19 points) came off the bench to make 5 of 11 three-pointers to set his career-high, followed by Michael Carter-Williams (14 points), Bobby Portis (13 points, seven rebounds), Robin Lopez (14 points, six rebounds), Taj Gibson (10 points, 12 rebounds) and Rajon Rondo (12 points, six assists)

The Wizards gave up 36 first-quarter points and trailed 61-49 at halftime. They went on a 32-16 run in the third to get back on top but a pair of three-point shots from Portis and Valentine put the Bulls back up 92-85 with 7:35 left.

Before Morris fouled out with four minutes left for Washington, he'd made a pair of three-point shots and had a steal and putback in transition for a 95-92 lead to set the stage. Lopez's two foul shots gave the Bulls a 99-97 lead but the Wall took over from there to close out their third win in a row.

-- Rondo had been 1-for-16 shooting in the first two games vs. the Wizards. He’d been parked on the bench by coach Fred Hoiberg in the previous five games too, losing his starting job to Carter-Williams. Inexplicably, the Wizards were going over the screen on the picks, allowing Rondo to get into the paint and find teammates for easy looks. Instead, the Wizards need to go under, clog the paint to take away the lane and force him into shots he can’t make which is almost everything that isn’t going to the rim. Rondo had eight points and five assists in 13 first-half minutes.

-- With Lopez and Gibson, the Bulls go hard on the offensive glass to clean up misses. That allowed the Wizards to get out in transition for 26 fast-break points. They had 32 in the last meeting.

-- The worst three-point shooting team in the NBA at 31.6%, the Bulls shot 80% in the first half (8-for-10) as Valentine made 4 of 5 and Portis 2-for-2. But a better effort to close out those shooters led the Bulls going 0-for-9 from deep in the third quarter when the Wizards made a run to regain the lead 81-77. Jason Smith and Kelly Oubre, in particular, played a role in that.

--The reserves for the Wizards took a step back. Sheldon McClellan (0 points) was responsible for Rondo’s early flurry as he went over unnecessarily on the screens. Smith (seven points, six rebounds), however, was the best of the bunch. He had modest numbers, but his three points, four rebounds and block in the third quarter factored into the comeback.

--Foul trouble remains an issue for Morris who picked up his fourth foul at 6:32 of the third quarter trying to take a charge from Carter-Williams. He got his third at 9:05 of the second quarter because he got too close to a non-shooter in Rondo and fouled him on the blow by. When Morris fouled out, he cleared out Gibson with an elbow as he tried to sweep through to make an offensive move. He lasted just 22 minutes.

RELATED: McClellan earns trust of Wizards' coaching staff

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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 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). 

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. 

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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]