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Takeaways from Wizards' win over Pacers to take season series

Takeaways from Wizards' win over Pacers to take season series

Another season series is in the books for the Wizards after Thursday’s 111-98 win at the Indiana Pacers as they head into the All-Star break.

Otto Porter opened red hot from long range as he made all four of his three-point attempts in the first quarter en route to shooting 6-for-10 overall (game-high 25 points, eight rebounds). He was followed by Markieff Morris (21 points, seven rebounds), Bradley Beal (19 points), Marcin Gortat (12 points, seven rebounds) and John Wall posted his 35th double-double (20 points, 12 assists).

The Wizards (34-21) won the season series 3-1. They’ve also won the series with the Milwaukee Bucks 3-1, lead the Charlotte Hornets 2-0, the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks at 2-1.

Paul George (17 points) was limited to 6-for-19 shooting as he labored through the second game of a back-to-back for Indiana (29-28). Myles Turner (17 points, nine rebounds) was their best scorer with Rodney Stuckey (12 points) and Al Jefferson (12 points) being sparks off the bench.

--The difference in the outcome was three-point shooting. The Wizards, who held the Pacers to 4-for-21 shooting from three in the last meeting, kept them to 4-for-18 in this one. Conversely, they made 15 of 29 threes to tie a season-high.

[RELATED: John Wall hits and-1 layup off top of glass vs. Pacers]

--Porter’s hot hand forced the Pacers to shift George, who usually covers Beal, onto the small forward. Porter responded by beating him off the bounce and getting into the lane with floaters that were converted. It also allowed the Wizards to get Beal some relief and not have to crossmatch to get a bigger defender on George. Beal made 4 of 7 threes. There were too many fires to extinguish.

--The bench’s inability to defend well vs. the Pacers was a problem in the last meeting. Then it was a 15-for-23 second quarter, 65.2% shooting, that allowed them to flip a 33-27 deficit into a 47-38 lead over Washington. The Wizards could’ve ended this one early but repeated droughts offensively and blown defensive assignments forced the starters back in. A 13-2 run trimmed the Wizards’ lead to 97-90 with 6:42 left. The Pacers had a 39-14 edge in bench scoring, but defensively is where the group seemed to lack more than offense. To score better, they have to play better defensively.

--The Wizards had all five starters in double figures with three minutes left in the third quarter for an NBA-leading 22nd time. Wall also had his ninth consecutive double-double by then. Among guards, no one in the conference is anywhere close to Wall with total double-doubles.

--Clearly more comfortable in the offense, this was the most assertive that Ian Mahinmi (five points, four rebounds in 12 minutes) has been in playing in his fourth consecutive game. He put the ball on the floor in and went at Al Jefferson successfully in the paint. Mahinmi made both of his field-goal attempts.

--Jeff Teague (six points) can be a matchup problem for the Wizards if he's allowed to get into the paint. Wall was significantly better and didn't gamble. In the last six quarters vs. Washington, Teague has scored eight points. 

[RELATED: VIDEO: Otto Porter hits buzzer-beater after shot clock malfunction]

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Film study: 1st All-NBA selection should be in John Wall's immediate future

Film study: 1st All-NBA selection should be in John Wall's immediate future

Kyle Lowry and Damian Lillard have made the All-NBA team before John Wall, and two years ago Kyrie Irving beat out the Wizards’ point guard when he didn’t really have the better individual season.

This year, Wall should reach his self-stated goal of being a four-time All-Star (accomplished) and first-time All-NBA player. It's just a question of if it'll be on the first, second or third team.

It’s not just about Wall's individual accomplishments – career highs of 23 points, 10.8 assists and 2.0 steals  – it’s his team’s success that should help him achieve that recognition. 

Saturday night, he dominated his matchup with Irving for the second time in three meetings and put on display why as a two-way player there's not much of a debate to be had about it. Irving, who plays next to LeBron James which inflates his credibility and his marks in the team success category, was voted the All-Star starter but if it were a spot that was solely merit-based Wall again was better this season.

He not only had game highs of 37 points and 11 assists in the 127-115 win for Washington, Wall isolated Irving in plain sight, posted him, shot over him and defended James himself 1 vs. 1 with tremendous success.

Wall is doing all of this despite coming off surgeries to both knees May 5 and a slow start to the season. His conditioning wasn’t always there. He still can gamble a lot defensively and allow the ball in the lane because he’s going for steals. He still can be better. 

When Wall is disciplined the way he was Saturday, not Irving, not Lillard, not Lowry, not Steph Curry and not even Russell Westbrook can be his peer on defense (Yes, Westbrook has a reputation for being a lockdown defender but there's ample evidence to show he's not and is in fact extremely undisciplined).

The Wizards (45-28) haven’t had an All-NBA player since Gilbert Arenas was second team in 2006-07 and third team in 2005-06 and 2004-05. Rod Strickland made it as a second-team selection for Washington in 1997-98.

And based on the way Wall's backcourt mate Bradley Beal is closing the season -- and being mistakenly omitted from his first All-Star apperance though he's no worse than the second-best shooting guard in the conference with DeMar DeRozan -- there's an argument to be made for him as All-NBA, too. Defensively, Beal has been more steady for longer stretches of the season than Wall.

Let's steamline the topic, however, and stay focused on Wall:

When isolated vs. Wall with no help, Irving has no chance of stopping Wall. Not good enough defensively and not nearly strong enough. And team defense isn't good, either, as Irving usually does  a lot of reaching in and getting lost on the weak side of the floor:

When is the last time you've ever seen Irving defend like this?

And for all Irving's talents, his speed and handle that produce an array of offensive moves, he usually creates for himself. Wall creates for others even when it appears he has nothing:

There's far more evidence than this and it goes beyond one game and one matchup. Irving will have his moments where he gets the better of Wall. If you're in a situation when you need one bucket with the game on the line like in Game 7 of the NBA Finals?

Irving is a better option than James in that situation. But he's still not a better player than James.

Over an 82-game season/big picture, this represents the primary differences between the two and why Wall deserves to be rewarded because he's just better of the two. And the same applies to many others who have gotten the recognition that Wall has not in his seventh season.

It's time.

MORE WIZARDS: Wizards sky high after dominating Cavs

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Sore spots for Bogdanovic, Mahinmi aren't expected to limit them on road trip

Sore spots for Bogdanovic, Mahinmi aren't expected to limit them on road trip

CLEVELAND – Short-handed with Bojan Bogdanovic unable to play because of a sore lower back and Ian Mahinmi sore but available because of his left hip, the Wizards still had more than enough firepower to deal the Cleveland Cavaliers a resounding defeat.

Before tipoff Saturday, coach Scott Brooks didn’t expect to miss anyone but that quickly changed. Bogdanovic, who has averaged 14.8 points and 40.5% three-point shooting, is their best scorer off the bench since being acquired in a trade last month. 

The Wizards have Sunday off after a back-to-back set in which they went 2-0 with a game Tuesday at the L.A. Lakers. Bogdanovic should be able to return to the lineup. 

“He went through some warmups and his back tightened up on him,” Brooks said. “It was news to me. But we’re building the culture, like a lot of teams are, next man up. Our guys stepped up and played well. You can’t worry about what you don’t have.”

Kelly Oubre received extened time with 26 minuttes to post 16 points and seven rebounds ss well as some tenacious defense. 

Mahinmi had a collision with Richard Jefferson in the first half that sent him to the floor in pain. Mahinmi stayed down for a while because Jefferson's knee caught him. He told CSNmidatlantic.com after the game that it was a hip pointer and that he could've returned.

Mahinmi only played nine minutes and didn't score. Brooks opted to use a small lineup with Markieff Morris at the five instead of Mahinmi or starter Marcin Gortat as they pulled away in the fourth.