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Bradley Beal's return helps key Wizards win over Knicks

Bradley Beal's return helps key Wizards win over Knicks

For Bradley Beal to make his return from right hamstring tightness on Thursday night, he needed the finishing touches of more than a week of treatment by the Wizards' training staff and one final test, a workout on the court at the Verizon Center about 90 minutes before Washington was set to tip-off with the New York Knicks. 

He also had within him an extra bit of motivation. Beal was already targeting this game to come back after missing three games, but what transpired the night before in Philadelphia left Beal even more determined to return.

Beal sat on the sidelines on Wednesday in Philly seething as the Wizards lost to one of the NBA's worst teams, the Sixers, knowing he could have helped if he was on the floor.

"I was real frustrated last night from our loss. I just really wanted a win," Beal said. "I wanted to come back today and hopefully, God willing, my body would feel good. And it did tonight."

Beal's return was integral in a 119-112 Wizards' victory against New York. He scored 18 points on 5-of-11 shooting with five assists in 29 minutes. He was 3-for-6 from three and a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line.

Beal helped orchestrate an impressive performance for the Wizards offensively. They shot 54.3 percent from the field and 60 percent (15-of-25) from three. 

For one night, everything clicked on both ends of the floor.

"It brings a whole different dimension to our team having Brad back," forward Markieff Morris said. "He's an elite scorer and a great defender. That made it easy for us to put the ball in the basket."

“It definitely opens it up for us. He gets so much attention, I think it helps everybody," forward Otto Porter said. "We need his ability to create for himself and create for others and knock down shots.”

Thursday night was also the first time this season that John Wall was available in the second game of a back-to-back set, and naturally the Wizards looked like a much better team. Though they are just 3-9 on the season, they are 3-4 with Beal and Wall in the lineup.

"It is good to have him back. Having Brad out there, we are a different team for obvious reasons," head coach Scott Brooks said. "We're a different team when we have all of our guys together. I don't use it as an excuse. I never told the guys 'hey, great game but too bad we lost and we don't have our guys.' I tell the guys that we have enough to win. But we are a better team when all of our guys are healthy."

The Wizards are off on Friday before hosting the Miami Heat (3-8) on Saturday night. Beal's hamstring, which he first tweaked on Nov. 9 against the Celtics, will still be monitored moving forward. Beal, in fact, had to play through some discomfort on Thursday night in order to return.

“It’s more of a mental thing, just being able to take some type of pain, some type of soreness. It’s tough with a hamstring because it’s not going to all the way clear up on you," Beal said. "You’re not going to go back to 100 percent, you’re going to have to work through some things. I was able to tolerate some soreness and stiffness and it actually feels a little bit better."

"We'll see how he feels tomorrow, but I don't anticipate any issues," Brooks said.

[RELATED: TAKEAWAYS FROM WIZARDS' BLOWOUT WIN VS. KNICKS]

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Markieff Morris set tone for Wizards, who finally got back to 'Death Row mentality'

Markieff Morris set tone for Wizards, who finally got back to 'Death Row mentality'

Perhaps Toronto and their fans would disagree, but through two games the first round playoff series between the Wizards and Raptors had been relatively uneventful, maybe even boring to the casual observer. For those who have watched the Wizards in recent years, something just seemed off with them.

Not only were Bradley Beal and Otto Porter struggling to score, but the energy and grit we're used to from the Wizards in the postseason just wasn't there. Three minutes into Game 3 on Friday night, that all changed.

Wizards forward Markieff Morris got tangled with Raptors rookie OG Anunoby and fell to the ground. He rose up, shoved Anunoby and gave Serge Ibaka a push for good measure. It cost Morris a technical, but he wasn't ejected. From there, the tone was set.

This was to be a physical game and the Wizards were going to make sure of it. That's how they prefer to play and that nastiness had been missing thus far in this series.

"I think OG [Anunoby] did not know the scouting report because he did not know that Keef is one of the people you do not mess with in this world," forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. said. "He will learn.”

The fireworks didn't end there. Beal and Jonas Valanciunas got into it and so did John Wall and Anunoby, and then Wall and Ibaka.

The Wizards made a name for themselves in the 2016-17 season when they won 49 games and were one win away from the conference finals as a team that would instigate contact and talk trash. They prided themselves on being old school in that regard and were praised for it by former NBA tough guys like Paul Pierce and Stephen Jackson.

This season, they just haven't been able to do it as often.

"We have been there at spurts throughout the year, we just have not been there consistently," Oubre said. "Now it is do or die. We just need to bring that Death Row mentality.”

Oubre also joked that rapper Drake started it all by sitting courtside in Toronto and talking trash. Truthfully, their backs were against the wall and they had no choice but to punch back.

The Wizards entered Friday's game down 0-2 to the Raptors with Game 2 a dispirited blowout. If they went down 0-3, they would essentially have been dead in the water. No team has come back from that deficit in NBA history.

This time, they weren't going to go down without a fight.

"It sounds crazy, but sometimes we need that. The crazy part is that it's always [Morris]," center Marcin Gortat said. "If you see your teammate fighting, I'm going to fight with him. That's the bottom-line."

"We came out tonight with an edge about ourselves," Beal said. "Keef is a bully... we are physical team." 

As for Morris, the enforcer himself, he let his actions speak for themselves. He didn't take the bait on most questions, but did wear a 'Death Row D.C.' shirt during his media availability. Morris came up with that nickname last season to convey the toughness he wants the Wizards to play with.

"We need some physicality," Morris said. "I feel like when we were in Toronto, they were doing everything too freely. This kind of set the tone for the whole series... we need to keep our same mean mentality. If they wanna fight, we will fight."

The Wizards fought the Hawks and Celtics last year tooth-and-nail and often used physical play to their advantage. It worked in Game 3 against the Raptors. Now the Wizards will have to counter however Toronto chooses to respond.

MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

MUST-SEE MOMENTS FROM WILD GAME 3

BEAL GOT AN APOLOGY FROM SCOTT BROOKS

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Physicality, the spark from Oubre; 5 must-see moments from Wizards Game 3 win

Physicality, the spark from Oubre; 5 must-see moments from Wizards Game 3 win

The Washington Wizards wasted no time in their playoff return to Capital One Arena to jump back into this series. Now behind 2-1 to the Toronto Raptors, Washington is back in the series. Here are the top moments from the 122-103 win:

1. It got physical early.

Is it bad luck to bring back #DeathrowDC? It only took the Wizards and Markieff Morris three minutes to get into a shoving match with OG Anunoby and the Raptors. Double technicals were both issued after this scuffle but it set the tone for the remainder of the game. From here the Wizards exerted their physicality.

2. Kelly Oubre providing the spark off the bench

Early on it was creeping toward another outstanding Raptors offensive performance, like we saw in Game 1 and Game 2. They were up 27-18 with two minutes left in the first quarter. Once the bench got their first opportunity to get into the game, Kelly Oubre Jr. provided that spark to get back the Wizards into it. In the midst of a 14-2 run from the first going into the second quarter, Oubre had four of his 13 points, including a monstrous dunk off of a loose ball.

3. Beal to Wall, back to Beal

For those that do not believe that John Wall and Bradley Beal are two of the best passers in the league, look no further than this play. Not only does Beal thread the needle, but Wall has the wherewithal to get the ball back to Beal for the lay-in.

4. A fire was lit under John Wall

It wasn’t just the double-double (28 points, 14 assists), playoff John Wall is officially back. He made that evident with countless hustle plays especially on defense to turn this game around. Moments later, the Wizards pushed the lead up to 20 for the first time and had Capital One Arena rocking.

5. Ty Lawson’s buzzer-beater

When playing the Raptors, you can never rule out a comeback. Throughout the third quarter Toronto kept nipping at the Wizards’ lead, but newly acquired Ty Lawson shut down any threat of that heading into the fourth.