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Wizards and Wolves meet in Minnesota
The Wizards head back on the road for the front end of a back-to-back tonight in Minnesota.
Target Center | 8:00 p.m. | NBCSW | 1500 AM
Wizards (10-9): G - Frazier, G - Beal, F - Porter Jr., F - Morris, C - Gortat
Timberwolves (12-8): G - Teague, G - Butler, F - Wiggins, F - Gibson, C - Towns
Wizards: Sheldon Mac (Achilles - Out), John Wall (Knee - Out)
Timberwolves: Nemanja Bjelica (Ankle - TBD), Jeff Teague (Achilles - TBD), Justin Patton (Foot - Out)
Late Game Squanders
The Wizards have lost two straight and both games saw them let a late lead slip away in the final minutes. The Wiz led by nine with four minutes left in Charlotte last Wednesday and lost, then led by 17 in the fourth quarter against Portland on Saturday and lost, two games they know they should have won. The bright side has been that they've been in position to win and have played well enough to win, but ultimately it's a bottom line league and failing to put teams away has been a bit of a trend through the first quarter of the season. It hasn't been one issue or even just one side of the ball, as they've had trouble getting big stops and scoring late buckets, which has compounded into some late collapses. They know they have the personnel to win these games, so now it will come down to simply going out and executing in crunch time.
Playing Without Wall
The Wizards will have to play at least the next two weeks without John Wall and after Saturday's loss the team is now 1-2 without their All-Star point guard this season. Tim Frazier started in Wall's place and had 11p-2a in 28 minutes, while Tomas Satoransky played 15 minutes off the bench and finished with 4p-4a. Bradley Beal tied a season-high with seven assists and that could be a trend we see with Wall sidelined, as Beal will be asked to take on more of a playmaking role. Otto Porter Jr. had 24 points on 9/15 shooting, the most points he's scored in a game in November, and he should expect to see more shots and touches with Wall out. The Wizards acknowledged that they need to get Porter more touches down the stretch, as he's taken only three shots in 39 minutes of "clutch" time this season.
There's no question Wall's presence on the floor will be missed, but this team has proven that they can not only compete, but win games, and they'll need to prove that with seven of their next eight games away from home.
The Wolves were one of the teams to make a big splash this offseason as they acquired All-Star guard Jimmmy Butler from Chicago to bolster their backcourt. They also signed veteran point guard Jeff Teague and the two guards now form one of the better backcourt duos in the league. They team up with a front court that features two of the bright young stars in the game in Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. These two athletic 22 year olds combine for 40 points per game and can cause matchup problems against almost everyone they play. Towns leads the NBA with 16 double-doubles and has recorded a double-double in nine of his last 10 games.
Up next, the Wizards head to Philadelphia for the second end of this back-to-back on Wednesday night. (7:00 p.m.)