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Morning tip: Wall, Beal work out kinks so both can thrive together

Morning tip: Wall, Beal work out kinks so both can thrive together

The book on John Wall and Bradley Beal has long been this: Too often they play better when separated and not when together on the court, allowing each of them to run the team on their own terms. The early returns this season suggest that's become a thing of the past.

Beal set a career-high with seven made three-pointers in Monday's 101-95 win over the Sacramento Kings at Verizon Center en route to a team-high 31 points. He added six rebounds and three assists. Wall had a terrible night that was made difficult by a sore leg which contributed to his 11 turnovers (eight in the first half) but he also had 19 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds to balance out that eyesore.

More and more, Wall and Beal are playing better together as they complement each other better in their fifth season together. 

"We realize that. It's a little bit of a maturity thing, growing up," said Beal, who also has scored 34 and a career-high of 42 since returning from a right hamstring strain Nov. 9 that kept him out three games. "It's a totally different system, too, different coaches, different players. We realize that we carry a majority of the load. On any given night, I can have it going. He can have it going. When we're both on the floor, it just opens up the floor, opens up opportunities for both of us. If one of us is out there, they're going to just load up on him or vice versa."

Beal had a slow start to the season but is averaging a career-high 20.1 points and his output is rising. Wall's offense hasn't suffered with career-high averages of 25.3 points and 38% shooting from three. 

What makes Beal's production so striking lately is that he played 76 minutes in the previous two games and never made a trip to the foul line. Monday, he logged 41 minutes in the overtime game and only made two trips. Those didn't come until the last three minutes of regulation in what had been a tightly called contest that featured 47 fouls and 52 foul shots.

In the win against Sacramento, Wall and Beal did something for each other that they'd yet to show consistently this season: They screened for one another. While that might not seem like a big deal, it is. 

The more a shooters like Beal partake in flex action, weakside screening for others before they get a screen themselves, improves the quality of their eventual looks. Defenses are required to make decisions on whether to switch or not to switch more often and are prone to make more mistakes. It also creates more mismatches. In his last five games, Beal is shooting 21-for-49 from three-point range, or 42.8%, and 50% overall from the field. 

Still, there are matters to work out. Wall took an impossible, contested fadeaway jumper at the end of the regulation as he ran the high pick-and-roll with Marcin Gortat to Beal's side of the floor. Given Beal's hot hand, he probably should've been the first option and, to have better spacing, he was better-suited on the weakside of the floor. After watching the film with Wall on Tuesday, coach Scott Brooks agreed that it was a forced shot and not the best read by his point guard. 

Closing games with better efficiency is their next level as a duo. 

[RELATED: Wizards' game plan works on DeMarcus Cousins]


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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Washington Wizards

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


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Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

As if they needed a reminder, the Wizards saw firsthand on Wednesday night just how much can change in a short period of time in the Eastern Conference playoff race where just two games separate the No. 3 and No. 6 teams.

That No. 6 team is now your Washington Wizards, who began the day in fourth place but lost their first game in four days on the same night both the Cavs and Sixers won theirs. 

The Wizards lost to the Spurs on Wednesday and managed only 90 points, their fewest since Jan. 22. It was a lackluster performance in a game the Wizards needed to treat with urgency. 


The Spurs sure did.

"We've gotta have a better mentality coming into games," guard Bradley Beal said. "The Spurs were fighting for playoff seeding just like we were."

The Wizards have now lost six of their last 10, yet all those games have come against teams currently holding playoff spots. Considering John Wall reamins out with a left knee injury, it's hard to fault them too much when they are staying afloat just fine in the big picture.

The problem is that the closer they get to the end of the season, the more these losses are magnified. They amount to missed opportunities, some bigger than others.

That was not lost on Beal, who considered the alternative. If the Wizards had beaten the Spurs, they would be sitting in fourth, two spots higher, and just a game-and-a-half out of third.

"Every time we have a chance to move up, we take two steps back," Beal lamented.


The Wizards are in a high stakes part of the standings where plenty is in the balance. They are fighting for home court advantage, something they would get in the third or fourth spots. And who they match up with will be paramount.

By falling to sixth, the Wizards are currently in line to play the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though the Pacers and Sixers are also good teams, they don't have LeBron James. Avoiding him and the Cavs would be ideal for the Wizards.

Beal has even bigger worries than that. He noted after the loss in San Antonio that they could fall even further if they aren't careful. They are now just a game-and-a-half up on the seventh-place Heat. 

"We've gotta realize what's at stake, man. The way we're going, we could keep dropping and mess around and be eighth. We've gotta do whatever it takes to win," he said.

The Wizards should be fine, if the previous two months are any indication. But Wednesday night was another example of how precarious things are for them this season in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference.


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