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Morning tip: Are Wizards better off staying small or going big?


Morning tip: Are Wizards better off staying small or going big?

Who are these Wizards? They need help, because apparently even Jared Dudley doesn't know after they fell to pieces for the second game in a row in Tuesday's 106-89 loss to the Toronto Raptors.

Coach Randy Wittman went to his big lineup, starting Nene next to Marcin Gortat, for the third game in a row. Dudley, who had been starting in the absence of Kris Humphries as both can stretch to the three-point line, had this observation:

"It's the changing of styles where, we're trying to find our identity right now. We're trying to space and we're trying to (play) with two bigs. We just need to work on our consistency when it comes to that and practice time will do they. Kind of getting back to the Nene and Gortat. For a while Humphries was starting. It was more spacing. Our identity and styles are somewhat changing and we have to come together in practice time to be able to to work on that."

Injuries have a lot to do with this shift, something that Wittman has indicated has been the case as he went away from Dudley. Dudley has the three-point shooting ability (46.6%) but is at a severe disadvantage when having to defend the likes of Toronto's Luis Scola or Miami's Chris Bosh on the low block. 

Even with Nene on the floor Tuesday, however, they were outrebounded 48-35. The Raptors had 11 offensive rebounds which takes away opportunities going the other way which is even more important for the Wizards without Bradley Beal (broken nose, concussion). The half-court action isn't as good without him so they must manufacture offense any way possible:

"We need to get out in transition. We need to get easy buckets. We want John going downhill to our three-point shooters and we want spacing. ... When they help, kick, shoot threes. We're not getting enough stops to be able to run and offensively our spacing was pretty poor in the second half. When you have two bigs you can still have more spacing. Them two they've played together before. ... It's something we need to work on and we got to work on it fast. Nene dominates the paint. He puts a lot of pressure on them, he can score. That's a different dimension ... that we haven't used this season. So we have to go over spacing with him in the post. Before, Gortat pick-and-roll with John. Curls for Brad."

It's still somewhat surprising that the Wizards (20-23) are past the midway point of the season and changing gears. They're trying to merge pace-and-space with two starting bigs occupying the same real estate?

Drew Gooden played 11 minutes in his second game back from a bout of soreness in his calf. He's the logical compromise choice, between Dudley and Nene, to fill the role because hes' 6-10 and a solid three-point shooter.

This team is running out of time, and healthy bodies, to figure it out.

MORE WIZARDS: Raptors rip Wizards yet again 106-89: Five takeaways

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Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Associated Press

Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Bradley Beal may have had a slow start in the three-point contest on Saturday night, but in Sunday's All-Star Game he worked quickly to make the most of his relatively small window of playing time.

Beal checked in for the first time with 5:45 left in the first quarter and less than 25 seconds later had his first points on a two-handed dunk assisted by LeBron James.

In his All-Star debut, Beal helped lead Team LeBron to a 148-145 victory over Team Stephen as the league utilizied a new format for the annual showcase.


Beal finished with 14 points and a steal in a productive night. He shot 5-for-10 from the field and an impressive 4-for-8 from long range. 

Beal also tried to get a travelling call from the refs on Karl-Anthony Towns. Yeah, that's not likely to happen in an All-Star Game:

Beal more than held his own and only played 16 minutes, which was good considering he has logged the fifth-most minutes of any player so far this season. A realistic best-case scenario was a strong showing and a short night and that's exactly what he got.

Not only does Beal play a lot of minutes, the Wizards need him now more than ever with John Wall's injury. He needs whatever rest he can get during this All-Star break.

Speaking of Wall, he was in the house despite being in the middle of his rehab from left knee surgery. Per usual, Wall was shining bright:


The All-Star Game wasn't all about Beal, of course. Here are some other things that stood out...

*The new format and increased financial incentive were intended to make the game more competitive and that's what happened late in the fourth quarter. Usually, that's how these things go where the players will start trying at the end. But this time it seemed to be up a few levels and it was fun to watch. 

Both teams scored in the 140s, so it wasn't exactly a defensive battle. No matter what the league does, the players will only try so hard for so long. The main goal of everyone's is to not get injured in a game that ultimately doesn't count for anything. Still, this was different and appears to have been a success.

*While everyone was focusing on the reunion of LeBron and Kyrie Irving the best beef was Joel Embiid vs. Russell Westbrook. Those two have traded waves to taunt each other at the end of wins in head-to-head matchups and it was clear on Sunday they still don't like each other. Westbrook tried to dunk all over Embiid in the first half, only to get blocked at the rim.

Westbrook's determination to dunk on Embiid was out of the ordinary for an All-Star Game. It was obvious what was on his mind:

*Irving's handles are simply ridiculous. Check out this fake behind-the-back move he pulled with Giannis Antetkounmpo guarding him. Yes, it didn't fool the defender but it was impressive nonetheless:

*LeBron is 33 years old, yet he was still running up and down the court faster than anyone and leaping above the rim to thrown down alley-oop after alley-oop. It is truly amazing and everyone should enjoy watching him while they can, regardless of whether they like the guy or not.

This was one of his dunks:

LeBron took home MVP with a game-high 29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and a steal.

*The pregame show was quite bad. It was anchored by comedians Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle and, though they had some funny jokes, it lasted nearly 30 minutes. The whole thing was pretty much universally panned on social media. Fergie's national anthem was also roasted by the masses.

*The halftime show was much better. It began with N.E.R.D taking it back to their older days with 'Lapdance,' went to Migos performing 'Stir Fry' and swung back to N.E.R.D. who did their latest hit 'Lemon.' 


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The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

Whoever put together the NBA All-Star Game player introductions has some 'splainin to do. 

The NBA introduced a kinda-full Staples Center to their 2018 All-Stars about an hour ago, and boy was it weird. There were a lot of dancers in different themed costumes. Kevin Hart was screaming. Rob Riggle was screaming. Ludacris showed up? Hey! Did you know that the Barenaked Ladies are still a band? The NBA would like you to know they're still around.  The whole thing was like when you're at an art museum and you're told that abstract piece in the corner is actually really meaningful but you gotta be honest, you don't get it. 

Anyways, the internet hated it. Here are some highlights from the internet hating it:

The lesson here is that you never need Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle. One will do.