The Wizards are a respectable 19-16.
But they’ve also lost to the Hawks, Mavericks, Lakers, Nets (twice), Hornets, Suns and Clippers. Washington is 10-6 against teams above .500 and 9-10 against teams below .500.
John Wall, via Candace Bucker of The Washington Post:
“We talk about it. We say when we play these teams that are not above .500 or not one of the great teams, we go out there playing for stats,” John Wall said. “It’s simple as that. We can see it. I think we all can see it when we play.”
Wall revealed that there are no feelings spared when teammates uncover selfish acts among others.
“We say it all in the locker room. No matter what. We don’t sugarcoat it from anybody,” Wall said. “And we all let him know what it is. We just got to find a better job of providing and keeping it away.”
The Wizards aren’t the only team to chase stats against bad opponents. They’re just not good enough to do so and still consistently win.
I don’t see this as a huge problem. The Wizards are already playoff-tested and have a good amount of chemistry. They’ve looked better against the type of opponents they’ll see in the postseason.
It’d be nice if Washington played with perfect focus every night. But it’s a long regular season, and a demonstrated ability to lock in against good teams will help when it matters most.
Rockets small forward Trevor Ariza has played more than 40 minutes the last six games, the longest such streak this season or last.
Ariza’s primary backup, Luc Mbah a Moute, is injured. So is Chris Paul, preventing Houston from using three-guard lineups with Paul, James Harden and Eric Gordon.
So, the Rockets are finally getting Ariza outside relief – Gerald Green.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
The 31-year-old Green is probably a still a high-flyer, but he has also developed into a solid 3-point shooter. If he focuses on his limited role and defends with effort, he can help his hometown Rockets.
Unless Green exceeds expectations, Houston will probably waive him by Jan. 7. Otherwise, his salary – like everyone league-wide – would become fully guaranteed. If they waive him, the Rockets could still sign him to 10-day contracts.
LeBron James – who will probably be a captain – approved of televising the NBA All-Star draft. John Wall – likely headed for the selection pool – also supports televising it.
Carmelo Anthony dissents.
Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:
I don’t think you should televise that. I think that’s something you should keep in-house. I don’t think everybody in the outside world need to kind of be in the inside of that. The flip side of that, you’ll have a lot of players that’s kind of mad at whoever the captains are. You’ll have guys are going to be mad. Guys are going to be upset. Friendships come into play.
Anthony is the first player I’ve seen to come out against televising the draft. He’s surely not alone, or the NBA would be more aggressive about televising it. But for similar reasons players fear televised results, they don’t want to look weak by openly opposing a public draft.
Hopefully, the NBA still televises draft. It’s not too late, and a watched draft is the whole basis of the excitement for captain-picked teams. And if the league comes around, there’d be a silver lining for Anthony: He won’t be an All-Star, anyway.
Draymond Green isn’t just the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.
He’s also a supportive teammate.
The Warriors forward endorsed Kevin Durant for the award.
Green, via Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area:
“If I had a vote, I’d vote for him right now,” Green said of Durant’s DPOY candidacy.
“I think he is, if not the leading candidate,” Green said. “I don’t think it’s really a race right now. The way he’s been playing on the defensive side of the ball has been spectacular.
Durant is having an incredible season as a rim-protector. He’s blocking shots more than anyone who wasn’t primarily a center or power forward since Andrei Kirilenko and Josh Smith a decade ago.
But Durant’s defensive rebounding has regressed as a result. He’s not locking opponents quite as well on the perimeter.
Is he a Defensive Player of the Year candidate? Sure. But so is Joel Embiid, Al Horford, Paul George, Andre Roberson, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis and even Green. Durant isn’t close to running away with the award, no matter how Green tries to paint the narrative.
A casualty of the Timberwolves’ win over the Nuggets last night?
Jeff Teague, who hurt his knee in the scrum to recover a late jump ball.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
This opens the door for Tyus Jones, who has been quite effective off the bench. Jones’ low-usage style could even open more shots for Minnesota’s most-efficient starters, Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler.
Aaron Brooks could assume Jones’ reserve role. Jamal Crawford and Butler could also handle more lead-guard responsibilities.
Tom Thibodeau gives his starters heavy minutes, as if the team isn’t very deep. But this is an injury the Timberwolves should handle relatively well.