- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Here’s another one for the stack, a loss to those who commonly lose, a loss that is mystifying and disheartening.

The Utah Jazz came to Capital One Arena without All-Star center Rudy Gobert or quality power forward Derrick Favors available to play. The Jazz had a 16-24 record. And, yet… another Wizards loss, this one 107-104 on Wednesday night, dropping them to 23-18.

It’s odd, that in the history of the franchise, being on pace for 46 wins feels so uncomfortable. Most seasons it would not. This one it does.

Three points from the evening:

Pile of turnovers. Bradley Beal (5) and John Wall (8) combined for 13 turnovers, which is just less than the team has averaged this season. They came into the game sixth in the league in turnovers thanks, in part, to backup point guard Tomas Satoransky rarely turning the ball over and Wall almost a full turnover lower per game than the last two seasons. But, Wednesday night against Utah was a mess. Washington tied a season-high with 23 turnovers and still had a chance to tie the game with a Beak 3-pointer with 2.9 to play. The inbounds pass from Otto Porter was low and bounced to Beal, blowing up the timing of the play though Utah’s Donovan Mitchell stumbled. Mitchell made a great recovery, forcing Beal to just drop the ball so his shot was not blocked. “Just too many,” Beal said of the turnovers. “You’re not going to win like that. I didn’t even know we had that many, but you’re not going to win a game if you turn it over that many times. And, then you give up 60 points in the second half. So, that’s the game right there. We just got to do a better job of taking care of it.”

Meeks is getting extra chances. It wasn’t just that Jodie Meeks was on the floor for 17 minutes Wednesday, it was that the backup shooting guard played a lot of those minutes alongside starters, notably Wall. After practice Tuesday, Wizards coach Scott Brooks had a one-on-one conversation with Meeks. Following Wednesday’s warmups, another coach encouraged Meeks by saying that Wednesday was going to be a good night for Meeks. Based on the conversations and rotations, it was clear the Wizards’ staff was trying to give the extremely affable Meeks a boost. He needs one since he holds by far the team’s lowest net rating among rotation players. Brooks thought the time with Wall would give Meeks open 3-pointers to get him going. It didn’t work. Meeks was 0-for-4 from the field. All of his attempts were threes. “He’s going to start making shots,” Brooks said. “I believe in what he does. He works hard and I see it every day in practice. So, I tried to change the minutes up to give him a few more minutes with John.” Sending Meeks on the floor chopped Tomas Satoransky’s minutes. Satoransky played just 5:40, his lowest amount since he did not play at all Nov. 21.

Searching for pace. Brooks said in the two days prior to Wednesday’s game that the Wizards were searching for offensive solutions. One of those they tried to employ was to play with better pace. In particular, Brooks wanted the wings, Otto Porter and Oubre, to run more often with Wall. They did that early, and the Wizards scored 32 points in the first quarter. They started 3-for-3 from behind the 3-point line, all of which were trail threes that were result of pace. In one instance, Porter ran hard up the floor, dragging his defender through the lane with him, allowing Markieff Morris to line up and make an open 3-pointer. “We didn’t sustain it,” Brooks said. “We have to be able to sustain. Like I said earlier, we have one of the fastest guys in the league and we have to utilize him and get guys in front of him. We did to start the game, then we slowed the pace down in the second quarter, the ball was being sticky, it wasn’t moving, that’s why you score 18 points.”

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