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Even Kawhi Leonard couldn't slow down Bradley Beal


Even Kawhi Leonard couldn't slow down Bradley Beal

Spurs guard Tony Parker had taken his only three-pointer of the season, and he made it over the challenge of Marcin Gortat's near 7-foot frame to tie the score at 99. That's when Bradley Beal went over to the distraught big man to give him a pep talk. 

"I told Gortat," Beal said, "we have seven seconds. We're fine. We're going to win the game."

Beal went out and proved himself to be correct. Jared Dudley inbounded the ball to John Wall. Then Beal got himself free from Kawhi Leonard by curling around a screen from Gortat and slipping a screen on Danny Green, who was defending Wall. When Beal popped out to Wall's right side, he made the simple pass. LaMarcus Aldridge ran away from Gortat to cover Beal, who made a jab step to free himself, step behind the three-point arc and drain the game-winner with 0.3 of a second left.

RELATED: Beal talks about his GW three-pointer just moments after

For the second time in three meetings, the Wizards beat the Spurs 102-99 at Verizon Center. Beal had 25 points, with nine coming in the fourth. Wall had 13 of his 17 points there -- and three of his four steals. 

"I saw two guards stay together (on the switch) and Brad was open. The only person who could get out there was a big man," Wall said of Aldridge and his own decision-making on the final play. "I like Brad's opportunities against a big man than me going against two guards."

Beal's admiration for Wall, who didn't score in the first half, was comparable. 

"I got to take my hat off to John. He didn't score in the first half. He had 17 in the second half. He stayed with it. He didn't get down. They were doubling him whenever he got in the paint. Everybody collapsed," Beal said. "He did a great job of staying with it and staying confident in himself. He made big plays down the stretch, big shots, big passes, great defensive plays.

Considering who was guarding Beal for most of the game, what he accomplished was significant. Leonard is a 6-7 physical defender who was MVP of the NBA Finals two years ago when the Spurs dominated LeBron James and the Miami Heat. 

Leonard had 18 of 23 points in the first half. Beal wore him down in the Wizards' pace-and-space offense, moving well without the ball, getting to the rim and creating. He also had four assists, five rebounds and three steals for the Wizards. 

"He's a great defender. He's an awesome defender. Great competitor. He's definitely one of the best to ever guard me. He's tough," Beal said of Leonard. "At the same time, I'm not going to let anybody keep me from being me. No matter who it is. Not taking anything away from him or anybody else in the league it's just me being confident in myself. It's just me coming into my own, I guess."

Beal even took the larger Leonard down in the mid-post to make a turnaround jumper. He did to the Spurs what they do to everyone else by using pressure offense. 

Aldridge anticipated with the score tied that Beal would try to drive to the basket which is partly why he bit the jab step. He guessed wrong.

"Out of all my shots tonight, that one felt the best honestly," Beal said of the winner. "Everything was in rhythm. It just felt naturally good. As soon as I jabbed him, I knew it was good."

MORE WIZARDS: Wizards drop Spurs on Beal's game-winner: Five takeaways

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Oklahoma star freshman Trae Young to enter NBA Draft

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Oklahoma star freshman Trae Young to enter NBA Draft

After a sensational freshman season at the University of Oklahoma, point guard Trae Young plans to enter the 2018 NBA Draft, according to a report by ESPN.

Young will be one of the most fascinating prospects in this class given the extreme highs and lows of his one college season. He vaulted into the top 10 in most mock drafts after beginning his freshman year on fire, but then began to slip over the final months as his shooting percentage dropped.


Right now the Wizards are lined up to be in the late teens, so it's unlikely he falls to their range. But at this point it's difficult to predict where he will go, whether that is top five or later in the lottery.

It really could go either way. Some teams may see him as a Steph Curry-like scorer who can hit shots from unusually deep range. There were certainly times where Young backed up those comparisons.

Teams could see his flaws as a result of opposing defenses honing in on him because they could at the college level. In the NBA he may have more space and therefore be able to play to his strengths.


Or, teams could look at the fact he shot 36.1 percent from three on a whopping 10.2 attempts per game as a sign he is a chucker. He also led the nation in turnovers, commiting 24 more than the next guy. Young averaged 5.2 giveaways per game.

While Curry is the best-case scenario, Jimmer Fredette may be the worst-case. Fredette was the 10th overall pick in 2011 and now plays in China. 

Young will be an intriguing prospect in the draft because the ceiling is high and the basement is low. 

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Scott Brooks, Ramon Sessions hoping for best with Tyronn Lue's health issues

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Scott Brooks, Ramon Sessions hoping for best with Tyronn Lue's health issues

As a fellow NBA head coach, Scott Brooks understands what Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliers is going through. As his former teammate, Ramon Sessions knows how tough Lue is.

Both members of the Wizards shared their reactions after Monday's practice to the news Lue is stepping away from the Cavs to deal with a health issue. Both expressed hope Lue will not be out long as the NBA continues its trek towards the playoffs.

"All of our thoughts are with him," Brooks said. "You hope that it's nothing serious. Health is the most important [thing]. The game is secondary."


"Prayers out to T-Lue," said Sessions, who played with Lue in Milwaukee. "It's one of those things where you've gotta take care of yourself at the end of the day. Him stepping away is the best thing."

Lue's illness has been a mystery to doctors, according to a statement he released on the Cavaliers' website. He has dealt with chest pains and other symptoms while also struggling to sleep. The hope is that having time off will allow him to get the rest he needs.


Brooks knows firsthand how difficult it is to get sleep during the regular season as a coach.

"You just have to figure out ways to get your rest. Some days are better than others. Sometimes you think after a good win you can have a good night's rest or sometimes it's the opposite. It's just hard to get rest. You're traveling in different timezones. You are emotional after games. You eat late. There are a lot of factors that go into it. We don't have a set schedule every night. I have a good staff and I rely on them," he said.

Lue, 40, will be replaced by associate head coach Larry Drew in the interim. The Cavs happen to be in a tight playoff race with the Wizards and other teams in the Eastern Conference battling for position.

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