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Grading the Southeast division: centers

Grading the Southeast division: centers

We've talked about all the various changes made by the Wizards this offseason - or really since they made the move for Nene last season. Now we look at how the local NBA team stacks up with its Southeast Division rivals, position by position. We started with the floor generals and shooting guards. Now, we move inside, where the centers roam. (2011-12 stats listed)...Atlanta Zaza Pachulia...7.8 points, 7.9 rebounds and 44 stars...One of the few mainstay holdovers for the Hawks squad, the 6-foot-11 Russian matched his career-high on the boards last season. No mere low post stiff, Pachulia shot 49 percent from 10-feet and beyond in 2011-12. Remains a secondary scoring option behind Al Horford, Josh Smith and the various backcourt members, but the Hawks lack of interior depth makes keeping Pachulia active and involved a front and center issue.Charlotte Brendan Haywood...5.2 points, 6.0 assists, 1.0 blocks...Despite no more Tyson Chandler in Dallas, the ex-Wizard received only 21 minutes of playing time per game for the Mavericks and Haywoods production has been in decline since his strong 2009-10 campaign. Perhaps a return home North Carolina helps the former Tar Heel rebound. Coming off a 7-win season, the Bobcats certainly hope so - and that he grabs plenty of rebounds. The 32-year-old will also serve as mentor to raw big man Bismack Biyombo.Miami Joel Anthony...3.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.3 blocks...Yuck. Even if the pedestrian space filler actually jumps center for the Heat, his starter tag does not in any way imply Anthony is a viable player. In crunch time Miami will move Chris Bosh or Udonis Haslem inside; thats the plan, but not ideal either. Regardless, this remains the Heats true Achilles heel and outside of injury the one area that could derail a repeat title run.Orlando Nikola Vucevic...5.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 16 minutes in 51 games last season for the 76ers.One of those situations where the player, in this case a crafty and aggressive rising second-year talent, is being somewhat dismissed because he was part of the Dwight Howard deal and few like what Orlando received overallin the Dwight Howard deal. Not a true low post presence, but Vucevic can stick the mid-range shot and likely displays more overall game with more minutes. The Magic can turn to rookie Kyle OQuinn and Gustavo Ayon when a meaty presence is required.Washington Emeka Okafor...9.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.0 block...Were you expecting Kevin Seraphin here? Perhaps Randy Wittmans game plan ends up bringing the veteran defender off the bench, but seeing as Okafor doubles as the Wizards highest paid player in 12-13, well assume he starts. The career double-double performer posted personal lows during an injury plagued campaign with the Hornets last season, but all signs point to good health entering the upcoming season. The most intriguing part of Okafors role with the Wizards is how this big man blends in on both ends of the court with Nene and Seraphin. Regardless, his presence enhances Washingtons defense and rebounding capability.And the winner is...Okafor, though somewhat by default simply because there just isnt much else going on with the centers in the Southeast division now that Dwight Howard is on the left coast. The reality is Bosh and Horford are often fourth-quarter centers for their respective teams and that changes this positional hierarchy. Then again, the Wizards have a deep rotation with Okafor, Nene and Seraphin, one they will need to powerfully take advantage of against some of these softer middles in the division. If Okafor returns to his career norms and Wittman schemes up a way to keep his three bigs happy and effective, this area, along with the point guard spot, is where the Wizards could rise above against their division foes next season.Rank: 1) Okafor 2) Pachulia 3) Vucevic 4) Haywood 5) Anthony

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Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

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

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

On a roll

The Wizards have some serious momentum going right now. With an impressive win over the Cavs on Thursday, they have now won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. They had a week off due to the All-Star break, but didn't show any rust at all in their first game back.

The Wizards are now 34-24, 10 games above the .500 mark. They are fourth in the East and could move into third on Friday if they win and the Cavaliers lose. Even with Wall out, things continue to look up for Washington.

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Hornets have had their number

The Wizards haven't done so well against the Hornets so far this season. Charlotte has taken both meetings and that includes a 24-point win on Jan. 17. That game featured Dwight Howard taunting the Wizards late in the fourth quarter.

Howard has killed the Wizards through two games with averages of 22.0 points and 14.0 rebounds. Jeremy Lamb (20.0 ppg vs. Wizards) has been a big factor as well as All-Star Kemba Walker (21.5 ppg vs. Wizards).

The last time these teams played about a month ago frustrations boiled over in an incident that got Tim Frazier ejected. Michael Carter-Williams picked a fight with Jason Smith and Frazier went off:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

Hornets coming in hot

The Hornets are outside the playoff picture at the moment at eight games below .500, but they have won two straight games and Walker and Howard are coming off huge games. In a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, Walker dropped 31 points and Howard grabbed 24 rebounds.

Those guys will be riding a high coming into Washington on Friday. But it should be noted that Howard complained after the game how tired he is at this point in the season. That exhausion could affect him more in the second game of a back-to-back.

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 110-103 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night...

1. The Wizards didn't start out well, as they trailed by nine points at the end of the first quarter. Kelly Oubre, Jr. stumbled early by missing four of his first six shots and it looked like a carryover of his slump before the All-Star break.

But Oubre got hot in the second quarter and helped the Wizards turn the game around. This was one of his best plays, a two-handed slam that he celebrated with an emphatic scream to the crowd:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

2. Tomas Satoransky was one of the stars of the game. He had 17 points to go along with eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. 

Here's one of his dimes, a perfect alley-oop lob to Markieff Morris, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds:

3. Satoransky has reached double-figures in six of the 10 games since John Wall went out with an injury. This was a very impressive move, a stepback fadeaway that was super smooth:

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4. Ian Mahinmi made some key contributions including four offensive rebounds and a steal. This was his best basket, a powerful slam that came at a key time:

5. This play helped seal the victory. It was a smart after-timeout set drawn up by head coach Scott Brooks and it worked to perfection:

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