John Wall, Bradley Beal

Randy Wittman criticizes John Wall’s and Bradley Beal’s effort

  • 2013: April 3
  • 2012: March 31
  • 2011: March 21

Those are the dates the Wizards were eliminated from the playoffs the last three years – a span that covers the entire careers of John Wall and Bradley Beal.

Now, it’s April 11 and Washington has clinched a playoff berth and is still fighting for crucial postseason position.

But the Wizards starting guards and leading scorers just aren’t used to maintaining focus for such a long season. That showed in Washington’s loss to the Bobcats on Wednesday, when the Wizards fell behind 50-30. Wall shot 6-for-18 with five turnovers, and Beal shot 4-for-15..

Asked about those two, Washington coach Randy Wittman, via Michael Lee of The Washington Post:

“When you don’t put effort in, you’re not going to have good showings. It just filters down,” Wittman said. “You can’t play with no energy or effort at one end of the floor and expect to turn it on at the other end of the floor. It doesn’t work that way. That’s been proven with these guys. It was almost like we were spinning our wheels in mud. We just didn’t come out with any enthusiasm. I don’t even know if they had a sweat broken at the jump ball.”

This is uncharted territory for Wall and Beal. They’ll learn in time. Wall is just 23, and Beal is 20.

But the learning process could be costly. The Wizards and Bobcats are both 40-38, tying the for the No. 6 and No. 7 seeds. The team that finishes higher will play the Raptors, Bulls or Nets in the first round. The team that finishes lower will play the Heat or Pacers in the first round. Although Indiana isn’t as imposing as a month ago, a 50 percent chance of drawing the Heat is still much scarier than facing Toronto, Chicago or Brooklyn.

With games against the Magic tonight and Bucks tomorrow, Wall and Beal won’t have immediate chances to respond to their coach’s criticism. They should beat those teams, even if coasting.

But, soon enough, Wall and Beal must prove their mettle in their longest season – or else it won’t last much longer.

Hezonja throws down one-handed dunk in preseason debut

Orlando Magic Introduce 2015 NBA Draft Picks
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Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has never lacked for confidence. The Croatian guard made his pro debut in the Magic’s preseason game against the Hornets on Saturday and did this:

Between Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have a nucleus of young players that has the potential to be a lot of fun. Even if they’re still a few years away from contending, they’re definitely going to be a League Pass favorite this year.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist suffers dislocated shoulder in preseason game

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Solomon Hill
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Preseason is only just getting underway and there’s already a potentially serious injury to report. In the game between the Hornets and Magic on Saturday night, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was taken to the locker room after suffering a right shoulder injury. The Hornets announced that he was then taken to an Orlando-area hospital for follow-up x-rays:

A few hours after the game, the Hornets announced that Kidd-Gilchrist has a dislocated shoulder:

Depending on the severity of the injury, he could miss a few weeks or a few months. Hopefully, it’s the shorter end of that timeline. We should know more on Sunday.