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Morning tip: Gooden invigorates Wizards with his 'want to'

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Morning tip: Gooden invigorates Wizards with his 'want to'

How many times has Drew Gooden stepped on the court for the Wizards to be that missing ingredient? It has taken place countless times, starting when he was signed as a free agent late in the 2013-14 season to get them over .500 to a No. 5 seed to last season when he shot 46.2% from three-point range in the playoffs to what he did in Monday's 114-110 upset of the Chicago Bulls.

Gooden, playing for just the 10th time this season after being limited by back soreness and a right calf strain, had his best game with 10 points, 12 rebounds and three assists in just 27 minutes. 

"The want to. The effort," Gooden said when explaining his play. "Simple."

The Wizards had 13 offensive boards and had a 21-7 edge in second-chance points as they won without Marcin Gortat. They also were able to have a 20-13 edge on fast-break points and 46-42 in paint points.

"The key was rebounding," coach Randy Wittman said. "This was the No. 1 rebounding team (in the NBA) and actually we had more offensive rebounds. ... We were able to get outlets. John (Wall) was able to push."

Nene, despite having just two rebounds, impacted those overall numbers, too. His 14 points are just the tip of the iceberg when the 7-footer is on.

"He gives us a dimension we don't have when he's not out there," Wittman said of Nene. "His ability to play low post, his ability to play high post, his passing ability."

At 6-10 and nowadays more of a finesse player, Gooden can do dirty work in different ways. He beat multiple defenders for Chicago to get to the loose ball. Gooden was 0-for-4 on threes, but for most of his career his bread and butter was hustle play around the rim. 

"Guys are still playing banged up," Gooden said of his 17-19 team. "We got to make a strong, hard push before the All-Star break and heal during that time off."

The Wizards have a pick-and-roll big in Gortat, a versatile facilitator from either block who they can run offense through in Nene, a face-up hustle player in Kris Humphries and a busy-body with three-point range in Gooden. 

They have options to combat any style of play which was why the roster was restructured this way. Health, of course, is the one variable that they can't control but it's why they're confident they'll get it together soon.

More  WIZARDS: Wizards worry Marcin Gortat could have staph infection

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The Wizards dominated Game 3 because everybody ate ... literally

The Wizards dominated Game 3 because everybody ate ... literally

The Wizards returned to Washington, D.C. on Friday down 0-2 to the Raptors in their best-of-seven 2018 NBA Playoffs first-round series

The team lost a close one in Game 1 and was run out of the building in Game 2. Game 3 was must-win, and the Wizards knew what needed to happen in order for them to secure the victory.

"Everybody eats." 

That's the phrase that has defined the Wizards throughout much of the season They are at their best when John Wall is making players and feeding his teammates.

On Friday night, the Wizards beat the Raptors 122-103 to force at least a Game 5. Wall finished with 28 points and 14 assists.

Bradley Beal finally broke out of his slump for 28 points and  Marcin Gortat, Mike Scott and Kelly Oubre all chipped in with at least 10 points.

But the stat sheet wasn't the only place where everybody eats.

Here's Marcin Gortat from Game 3. 

But if pantomiming isn't your thing, here is Bradley Beal actually eating popcorn during Game 3.

So what did we learn in Game 3? Well, for starters: "Everybody Eats" is not just a motto, it is a way of life.

MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

GORTAT DITCHES MOHAWK, TEAMMATES APPROVE

MUST-SEE MOMENTS FROM WILD GAME 3

BEAL GOT AN APOLOGY FROM SCOTT BROOKS

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With Playoff Beal back, the Wizards are revitalized in playoff series vs. Raptors

With Playoff Beal back, the Wizards are revitalized in playoff series vs. Raptors

The Toronto Raptors were only going to hold Bradley Beal down for so long. After two so-so games to begin the Wizards-Raptors playoff series, the All-Star shooting guard was bound to find his way offensively and that arrival came in a Game 3 win on Friday night.

Beal was brilliant and much more in line with what he's shown in the postseason throughout his career. Game 2 was his worst playoff game as an NBA player, he scored only nine points. Game 3 was one of his best on the postseason stage, or at least one of his most timely and important.

The Wizards needed more from Beal to give themsevles a chance in this series. An 0-3 deficit would have been a death sentence. His production is so key to their success that head coach Scott Brooks and point guard John Wall met with Beal in between Games 2 and 3 to figure out how to get him going.

Whether that was the catalyst or not, the results followed. Beal poured in 28 points in 10-for-19 shooting with four rebounds, four assists and three steals. He hit four threes, more than he had in the first two games combined.

Beal wasted no time to make an impact scoring the ball. His first points came on a quick burst to the basket where he stopped on a dime, turned around and banked it in. By the end of the first quarter, he had 12 points in 11 minutes.

“I just wanted to be aggressive, get shots that I wanted which is what they were going to force me to take," Beal said.

After Game 2, Brooks and Beal described how physical the Raptors were defending him. They were holding on to him and staying close, even when he wasn't moving off the ball.

Brooks saw a difference in how Beal responded to that in Game 3.

"Brad came out and was looking to go towards the basket and not just letting them hold him and going along with it. He didn’t want to dance with his opponent, he wanted to get away from them. That was a critical part of his success," Brooks said.

Beal's 28 points were as much as he scored in Games 1 and 2 together and just about what he averaged through four games against the Raptors during the regular season (28.8). By halftime of Game 3, Beal had 21 points on 8-for-11 from the field.

Beal hit two threes in the first quarter and another two in the second quarter. Several of those threes were set up by Wall, who used the meeting with Brooks and Beal to ask how he can set him up better as the point guard.

In Game 3, they were on the same page.

"I do think this man [John Wall] next to me, he creates and facilitates for the whole team and gets everybody easy shots," Beal said. "I talk to you guys all the time and I can’t tell you the last time I actually got a regular catch and shoot three just in a regular half court set. When he came back, I got like three or four off the bat."

What Beal did in Game 3 is what the Wizards are used to seeing from him this time of the year. Despite being only 24 years old, he has a strong track record in the playoffs.

Through 37 career postseason games, Beal is averaging 22.3 points, more than his career average of 18.7 in the regular season. In each of his previous three postseason runs, he has averaged more points during the playoffs than he did in the regular seasons leading up.

That production has earned him the nickname 'Playoff Beal' and when he goes off like he did in Game 3, good things usually happen. The Wizards are 10-6 in the playoffs during his career when he scores 25 points or more.

Wall also boasts impressive career numbers in the playoffs. When the Wizards have both of their stars playing at their best, they are hard to beat. With peak Beal on board, this series looks a lot different than it did not that long ago.

MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

GORTAT DITCHES MOHAWK, TEAMMATES APPROVE

MUST-SEE MOMENTS FROM WILD GAME 3

BEAL GOT AN APOLOGY FROM SCOTT BROOKS

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