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Morning tip: Bradley Beal doesn't have to take last shot because he creates for Wizards, too

Morning tip: Bradley Beal doesn't have to take last shot because he creates for Wizards, too

The last time Markieff Morris had a chance to win the game at the end for the Wizards, he had a wide-open three that hit the back of the rim in a loss at the Orlando Magic.

He has redeeemed himself. plenty of times since then, including clutch free throws in to hold off the Golden State Warriors and then what he did vs. the Portland Trail Blazers.

That miss in Orlando came in just the fifth game of the season, when the Wizards were a very different team (and without John Wall). Saturday, it was their 65th when Morris buried a pull-up jumper with 0.4 of a second left for a 125-124 overtime win.

Their weapons are multiplying with Otto Porter and Bojan Bogdanovic also capable in similar situations.

Morris' shot was all net. There was more time (6.8 seconds) to set up the final shot compared to Orlando when Morris missed (0.8 of a second).

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"It was a redeemer for him," said Bradley Beal, who caught the inbound pass off a curl and found Morris spotting up in the corner for thie assist.

"It was a great play drawn up. I knew they were keying on me."

The execution went perfectly, unlike in early-season losses at the Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs when the Wizards had chances to clinch road games but didn't. 

They either didn't make the shot or were forced to take a more difficult look because the play broke down on a poor route run by Beal or a poor screen set by Morris to free him to catch the ball. 

Porter, who was the inbounder and almost always is, found Beal with a crisp pass and they got the play underway without a hitch. That allowed Beal to survey all of his options as he got away from Allen Crabbe who trailed him but faced Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic helping to stop his drive to the rim. When Mo Harkless converged as well as he left Morris in the corner, that opened the door for the pass and the finish.

The Wizards (41-24) have jumped the Boston Celtics in the East standings and have drawn even closer to the Cleveland Cavaliers who lost Sunday. They're now just two games back of the No. 1 seed. 

"It's almost like we won a championship," Beal said of the atmosphere at Moda Center following the lastest win. "We were throwing water around the locker room, beating down lockers, it was electrifying. It was exciting."

While that might sound extreme, it's a steppingstone in the evolution under a young backcourt of Wall and Beal.

They didn't have a good track record of closing out games like this. But Wall hit a game-winner to beat the Chicago Bulls on Jan. 10.

It's not about Beal or Wall forcing the shot for the sake of saying they took the shot. It's about getting the best shot available provided the play execution is sound. Otherwise it becomes a broken play such as the off-balance heave from Porter vs. the Thunder that went awry.

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It wasn't that the Wizards weren't trying to get the ball to Beal because he's likely to draw the most defenders, he's good enough off the dribble to beat the coverage, he can finish through contact and has the play-making ability to set up a teammate if all else fails. But coach Scott Brooks cleared the strong side of the floor for Beal to exploit Portland's defense that was destined to suck in and help on the drive. Morris was the beneficiary.

"That just shows our will to not quit," said Morris, who was short on words after the 21-point comeback that ended in controversy because replays showed his left foot stepped out of bounds. "That's what we did."

Even if the Wizards were to lose tonight's game at the Minnesota Timberwolves to end a five-game road swing, they will have set a new standard. They haven't gone 4-1 on such a trip since 1973, but if they do win it will be the first time they went undefeated in five consecutive road games, according to the team's PR staff. 

 

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.

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The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.

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Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one. 

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Wizards' 122-105 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night...

1. This was a tough one for the Wizards. For the third time this season, they got beaten by the Hornets and for the second straight time it was in a blowout.

They still had their moments, though, including this alley-oop from Tomas Satoransky (11 points) to Markieff Morris (13 points, eight assists, six rebounds). It was the second alley-oop connection for those two in as many games:

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2. This was a play that encapsulated the Wizards' night. Jodie Meeks drew a flagrant foul on Michael Carter-Williams, but took a hard shot to the head:

3. Kelly Oubre, Jr. had a solid game with 11 points, including this big dunk:

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4. Speaking of Oubre, he helped the Wizards close the first half with a late surge. The real highlight was Bradley Beal stealing the ball and hitting a corner three at the buzzer:

5. Beal ended up with 33 points, six assists and six rebounds. Here's an and-1 he got to go down in the second half:

All in all, it was an ugly performance for the Wizards. To cheer you up, we'll leave you with this young fan who had a great time at Capital One Arena despite the result:

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