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After NBA Africa, Beal turns focus to Wizards

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After NBA Africa, Beal turns focus to Wizards

Soon, after this morning's NBA Africa Game in Johannesburg wraps up, Bradley Beal will be heading back to prepare for his fourth season with the Wizards. That'll include a stop with USA Basketball in Las Vegas and a small workout group that'll include backcourt mate John Wall. 

"I always told the league I would do something with Basketball Without Borders. When I have a free summer, an opportunity to do it, I would," Beal said via phone from South Africa, where the league will have its first organized game Saturday morning. "This was perfect. I'd never been to Africa before and this was such a great chance. There are other great players here and they're dedicating their time to be here as well. Why not me? ... I'm glad I did it. I'm enjoying every minute of it."

Beal's workout routine hasn't been interrupted. The facilities there are top notch. The exhibition game caps a week of camps as the NBA aims to expand the game globally. It already has grown deep roots in China.

"It's been a humbling experience. ... They look up to us. They're appreciative of everything we do," Beal said of his experience in Africa. "They're appreciative of who we are and the fact that we play basketball. ... Seeing all the neighborhoods and the communities that these people are raised in, seeing where they come from, how they still have positive attitudes, they're still smiling. They're still living their everyday lives."

Beal is joined by the likes of Chris Paul, Trey Burke, Nik Vucevic and other NBAers with ties to the continent such as Giannis Antetokounmpo and his brother Thanasis, Luol Deng and Bismack Biyombo. 

His offseason priorities typically include strengthening his legs to prevent a fourth stress reaction in his lower right one. And now without Paul Pierce, who left as a free agent for the Los Angeles Clippers, the responsibility of leadership shifts mostly onto the shoulders of the starting backcourt.

"It's a business at the end of the day. I can't be sad, can't be mad. He's a grown man," Beal said of Pierce's departure after a somewhat magical one-year run. "He can make the best decision for himself and his family. You have to respect that. I wish the best for him but whenever we compete we'll try to beat him. When he left it was sad because he was a big piece to our team but now we just have to rely on Otto (Porter) and Alan (Anderson) and Kelly (Oubre) to step up and Martell (Webster) as well to help us out.

"I'm going back to D.C. to work out for about a week, going to Vegas for USA (Basketball) for a few days. A few of us going to work out together, probably together go meet up somewhere as a team and then after that the season will be rolling around that time."

Wall and Beal haven't always performed like an elite tandem. But during their 10-game playoff run in which both were spectacular, they're on the right path. Summit meetings between them have taken place before but this appears to be their most significant step yet. 

"It was me and John's idea. We figure at some point in the offseason we all need to get together, make sure we're staying together, and push each other to continue to improve our games," Beal said. "We have a great system. We have a great core. We have a bunch of young guys. It's good for us to get to know each other a little better off the floor and continue to work."

MORE WIZARDS: WHO'S THE NEW CLOSER?

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Bradley Beal eliminated in first round of three-point contest, Donovan Mitchell wins dunk contest

Bradley Beal eliminated in first round of three-point contest, Donovan Mitchell wins dunk contest

It was a short night for Wizards guard Bradley Beal in the 2018 All-Star three-point contest on Saturday, as he was eliminated in the first round.

Wearing the Wizards' new 'The District' white alternate jersey, Beal shot a 15 and fell short of the top three spots to qualify for the second round. Suns guard Devin Booker won the contest with a 28 score in the final, beating out Klay Thompson of the Warriors and Tobias Harris of the Clippers.

RELATED: BEST WIZARDS/BULLETS MOMENTS ON ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

Beal's was undone by a slow start. He missed all five shots on the first rack and made just one on the second. He began to heat up at the third rack, but by then couldn't recover.

Here is Beal's full round:

This was Beal's second showing in the three-point contest. He finished second back in 2014 and this year said he was motivated to avenge that loss. He should have plenty more opportunities to participate in the future if he chooses.

The NBA's All-Star Saturday night began with Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie winning the skills competition. He beat Bulls big man Lauri Markkanen in the final round.

Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell won the dunk contest. He edged Larry Nance, Jr. of the Cavaliers in the finals.

RELATED: LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT

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2018 NBA All-Star Saturday night: TV and live stream info, things to watch for dunk contest, three-point contest

2018 NBA All-Star Saturday night: TV and live stream info, things to watch for dunk contest, three-point contest

The 2018 NBA All-Star Saturday Night is here with the three-point contest, dunk contest and skills competition set for Los Angeles.

Here is all you need to know: TV and live stream info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

2018 NBA ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

Where: Staples Center
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: TNT
Online with no cable TV: fuboTV (try for free)

PODCAST: ALL-STAR WEEKEND PREVIEW, WIZARDS AT THE BREAK 

Skills competition

Participants: Lou Williams, Clippers; Jamal Murray, Nuggets; Al Horford, Celtics; Spencer Dinwiddie, Nets; Joel Embiid, Sixers; Buddy Hield, Kings; Lauri Markkanen, Bulls; Andre Drummond, Pistons

What to know: This year's crop has a fascinating mix of guards and big men and don't sleep on the seven-footers. Embiid in particular has a unique skillset for his size. Still, it's tough to beat the guards. Watch out for Dinwiddie, who is the best passer of the bunch.

RELATED: BETTING ODDS FOR DUNK CONTEST, THREE-POINT CONTEST

Three-point contest

Participants: Klay Thompson, Warriors; Eric Gordon, Rockets; Devin Booker, Suns; Paul George, Thunder; Wayne Ellington, Heat; Bradley Beal, Wizards; Kyle Lowry, Raptors; Tobias Harris, Clippers

What to know: Thompson and Gordon enter the contest as past champions, as Thompson won it in 2016 and Gordon took it home last year. Thompson has the best three-point percentage among the group and is the favorite, but watch out for Beal, a past runner-up, and George who has the second best percentage. Also, Booker is one of the game's best young players and has a very smooth stroke from three.

RELATED: WIZARDS/BULLETS HISTORY ON ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

Dunk contest

Participants: Dennis Smith Jr.; Mavericks; Donovan Mitchell, Jazz; Larry Nance Jr., Cavaliers; Victor Oladipo, Pacers

What to know: This is all about the rookies, Smith and Mitchell, who most are predicting to win. Oladipo has been in the contest before, but didn't win. He's also the only All-Star of the bunch. Nance is the only guy who isn't a guard and his father won it back in 1984. It will be interesting to see if he does some sort of nod to his old man, now 34 years later.

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