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Game Notebook 25, Wizards vs. Hornets: Depleted But Not Defeated

Wizards 109
Hornets 101

December 19, 2015 – Verizon Center, Washington, DC

ESPN Box Score

The Wizards entered tonight’s game against the Hornets reeling after a recent 1-3 Western road trip that saw some blowouts and little to be optimistic about. Arriving back home would spell a bit of relief, but the roster was still struggling with two starters (Brad Beal and Otto Porter), as well as pieces of an already thin front court (Nene and Drew Gooden III) all unable to suit up.

They’d be matched up against a Hornets team who ran the Wizards out of Charlotte recently, using a huge 4th quarter run that had some wondering of team changes were imminent.

The Wizards used a combination of remarkable shooting (50% from the floor, 45% from three) and key defensive stops to top the Southeast Division-leading Hornets 109-101. Wall overcame a near doubling of his season turnovers per game figure to notch 27 points, 12 assists, 3 rebounds and a block. Garrett Temple, who’s seen significant time due to his defensive abilities, did excellent work on the offensive end tonight, tallying a career-high of 21 points on 7-9 from the floor.

Washington now prepares for two more consecutive games at home, trying to inch closer to the .500 mark for the first time since earlier this season.

#WizHornets in a tweet..

The Game’s Top Performer:

John Wall

With Beal optimistically due back until around the first week of January, Wall has assumed the role of primary scorer, raising his field goal attempts (including 3 pointers) in an effort to shoulder the load. While he’d been connecting on under 30% of his attempts during a recent stretch, tonight was one of those nights where Wall’s shot confidence worked almost perfectly. Wall started the game shooting 5-7 from the floor and looked comfortable throughout, closing with a final line of 27 points, including 20 in the first half. When the Hornets threatened with a run late in the 4th quarter, Wall steadied the team, drilling key shots and finding his teammates with assists.

While Wall did have some trouble with turnovers again tonight – passing across the court and into defended lanes – it didn’t prove to be a huge detriment to the team.

Wall will need to string together more of these nights until Washington can find a reliable second option while Beal is spelled.

A forgettable night for..

Kelly Oubre Jr.

Oubre Jr. – the talented, yet erratically used rookie – slid into the starting lineup tonight with Otto Porter unable to play. The excitement started fast and early, as Oubre scored 5 points (including a 3 pointer), pulled down 2 rebounds, and blocked a shot all within the first few minutes of the game.

But soon after, Oubre picked up 2 fouls and landed on the bench only about 5 and a half minutes into the game. Coach Wittman didn’t plug Oubre back into the game again until roughly the 5:30 mark of the second quarter.

Oubre saw game action again midway through the 3rd quarter, but after picking up 2 fouls in less than a minute, he had to sit once again.

It was a disappointing, but not atypical first time start for a rookie. The ability is there (as evidenced by his recent career-high in San Antonio) but Oubre will have to slowly learn the speed of the NBA game and how to channel his energy on defense.

Key Takeaways:

  • Marcin Gortat had a rough start to his night, beginning 0-4 from the floor and getting beaten to spots on the floor by Cody Zeller for rebounds. But Marcin turned around his performance and took advantage of the suspended Al Jefferson, finishing with 18 points and 6 rebounds, including the basket after a dish from Wall that pushed the Wizards lead to 103-98.
  • Jared Dudley had perhaps his most efficient game as a Wizard, scoring 19 points on 7-9 from the floor and 3-5 from three-point range. His late game positioning was key in keeping the Hornets from further smothering the Wizards on the glass. He also finished with 9 rebounds.
  • Randy Wittman went only 8 deep with his roster in this game, including Kris Humphries totaling 16 minutes. The rotation was geared toward not only being short-handed, but attempting to stop a Hornets team that got lots of second chance opportunities after their three-point shot went cold. The team still needs someone to step up and guard the paint. The Hornets’ guards (especially Jeremy Lin) saw entirely too much success getting into the paint for uncontested scores.

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