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Recap: Wizards Fend Off Comeback, Edge Magic 105-98

October 30th, 2014 at 10:32 PM
By Matt Graber

It wasn't always pretty, and it was a lot closer than it should have been, but the Washington Wizards escaped with a 105-98 victory over the Orlando Magic, salvaging a 1-1 split on their Florida road trip and earning their first win of the season. John Wall had a monster game, with 30 points and 12 assists, and helped seal the game with a late layup. The Wizards got a balanced scoring effort, as all five starters finished in double figures. Magic center Nikola Vucevic posted his second strong game, posting 23 points and 12 rebounds, while Ben Gordon and Evan Fournier added 22 and 21 respectvely.

Much like last night's game against Miami, the Wizards struggled to get going early. The offense once again looked stagnant, settling for too many long jumpers and lacking spacing and creativity. However, the team came alive in the second half, outscoring the Magic 28-15 in the third quarter and blowing the game open. The Magic rallied, cutting the lead to as little as 2 late in the game. But turnovers would prove to be their undoing, as the young team had 18 giveaways, six from rookie point guard Elfrid Payton.

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Recap: Wizards Can’t Contain Chris Bosh, Fall to Heat 107-95

October 30th, 2014 at 11:18 AM
By Matt Graber

The depleted Washington Wizards hung tough, but the Miami Heat got a pair of superstar performances from Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade, carrying them to a 107-95 victory on opening night. Bosh was a force in his first game as the Heat's primary option, burning the Wizards for 26 points and 15 rebounds. His ability to stretch the court was a nightmare for the Wizards, as he went 3-4 from three and routinely dragged Marcin Gortat away of his comfort zone and out to the perimeter. Wade, who left the game temporarily in the third quarter, played the role of closer, with 12 of his 21 points coming in the fourth quarter. It was a pair of strong performances from two quality players on a mission to prove that they could still be stars without LeBron James.

The Wizards' offense looked a bit sluggish out of the gate but played reasonably well without Bradley Beal and Marcin Gortat. Wall had 16 points and 11 rebounds while Gortat (18 points), Paul Pierce (17) and surprisingly, Drew Gooden III (18) help carry the scoring load. But the Wizards lost this one on the defensive end. Bosh was pretty much unguardable, Wall got burned by Norris Cole (career high 23 points), and the Heat out-rebounded them 44-36. It was a disappointing start for a group hoping to rebrand themselves as hard-nosed, physical, and defense-oriented.

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Season Opener Preview: Washington Wizards Vs. Miami Heat

October 29th, 2014 at 11:39 AM
By Matt Graber

It's time. After a long absence, meaningful NBA basketball is finally back, and the Washington Wizards open their season tonight against the Miami Heat. It's an intriguing matchup, as the Wizards look to build on last season's surprising success and the Heat look to establish themselves in the post-LeBron era. Unfortunately, injuries have taken some of the luster of off tonight's game, as the Wizards will be go into battle with a severely depleted squad.

Bradley Beal will miss a few weeks with a fractured wrist, and forwards Nene and DeJuan Blair are suspended for tonight. And while Kris Humphries and Glen Rice Jr. will be in action, neither are 100% because of hand and ankle injuries, respectively. Their absences will force coach Randy Wittman to get creative with his lineups. Expect Otto Porter Jr. to log heavy minutes on the wing tonight; the second year man was arguably the team's top perimeter player in the preseason. Meanwhile, Paul Pierce will likely see some time at power forward tonight as a 'stretch 4' in small-ball lineups, a spot where he thrived with the Nets last season.

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Injury-Plagued Wizards Can’t Afford Another Slow Start

October 27th, 2014 at 2:24 PM
By Matt Graber

Big things are expected from the Washington Wizards this season. After a surprising run the the Eastern Conference semis and what was widely considered to be a strong offseason, many have labeled the Wizards as not only a playoff contender, but a dark horse to make a run to the Eastern Conference finals. With a star-studded backcourt, improved depth, and a nice mix of young talent and veteran leadership, the Wizards certainly have the look of a promising young contender. But if they hope to make a serious run, they can't afford to get off on the wrong foot like they typically do.

Year after year, the Wizards manage to get off to a slow start, crippling their momentum and dropping them to the bottom of the standings. During the 2011-2012 season, the team began the season with eight straight losses. The 2012-2013 squad started off with twelve straight losses and limped to one of the NBA's worst records. Even last year's playoff team didn't manage to crack .500 until February. While the Wizards managed to get away with a poor start last year due to playing in a shallow Eastern Conference, this year's competition looks to have taken a step up.

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Rasual Butler Earns the Wizards’ 15th Roster Spot

October 25th, 2014 at 2:53 PM
By Matt Graber

The battle for the Wizards' final roster spot is over, and an unlikely name remains standing. According to J. Michael of CSNWashington, 35 year-old veteran Rasaul Butler has beaten out Xavier Silas, Damion James, and John Lucas III to remain on the Wizards as the 15th man. Butler will sign a one year, non-guaranteed deal at the veteran's minimum. The team able to release him with no salary cap penalty prior to January 10, when contracts become guaranteed. Silas, James, and Lucas have been waived from the team.

It looked like Butler would be a longshot to make the team, as Xavier Silas was the initial favorite. But Butler was able to make the most of his limited playing time, shooting the ball well in late-game situations and proving that he can still hit threes. Shooting became a major team need after Bradley Beal suffered his wrist injury, and Butler's preseason performance and track record made him the best option to fill that need. As a career 36% three point shooter with the versatility to play both wing positions, Butler should be a useful veteran presence on the team.

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