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Morning tip: Wizards reconnect with pace-and-space offense


Morning tip: Wizards reconnect with pace-and-space offense

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The defense still is a work in progress for the Wizards, but for the first time in a long time they didn't fold when the opponent kept applying the pressure, avoided the kind of double-digit deficits that have doomed them and had stars such as John Wall convert plays and every role player from Nene to Ramon Sessions to Gary Neal factor in.

Saturday's 123-122 comeback win at the Houston Rockets was a reflection of all of this, and tonight they'll have to not get discouraged by the pressure they'll face from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder (CSN, CSNmidatlantic.com and NBC Sports Live Extra, 7:30).

"I told the guys before the game, every team in the league goes through some adversity at some point in the season. We've reached ours," said coach Randy Wittman, referring the players-only meeting called by Jared Dudley on Thursday. "True character of a person is what you do when you face it."

Wittman won't be with his team for the next two games while he's on personal leave after the death of his older brother, adding yet another hurdle to what has been a tumultuous season. Marcin Gortat had to leave for three games to tend to his ailing mother. The Wizards had by far the most lost games to injury in the league according to ManGamesLost.com (197) going into the weekend, with Kris Humphries (knee) and Alan Anderson (ankle) still in suits watching from the bench while Gary Neal (thigh) and Otto Porter (hip) have missed time recently and currently are playing through discomfort.

The Rockets still shot almost 50% from three-point range (17 of 35) and 47.7% overall (41 of 86), but the Wizards never trailed by more than six and never grew discouraged. They had eight players score in double figures with Wall's 19 leading the pack. Porter was one point away from making it nine.

But going away from starting two bigs, Nene and Marcin Gortat, and separating them after four starts together produced a 1-3 record was the correct move. They're a more fluid team.

"We didn't stop anybody. But the spacing, being able to get our shots where we wanted to, we missed a lot of shots and we still scored 120 (plus)," said Dudley of the Wizards, who were just 3 of 15 on three-point looks at halftime before shooting 8 of 16 in the second half. "A lot of wide-open looks put them in binds. That's not a great defensive team but to still score 123 in regulation that's a big win for us."

Sessions had 12 of his 17 points in the pivotal third quarter when he took over. Sessions' steal of a pass from James Harden turned into an assist to Dudley for a transition three-pointer. Then Sessions had five consecutive points for a 90-86 lead. Neal knocked down a fourth-quarter three as did Drew Gooden. Plus, the Wizards went to the foul line 18 times in the final 12 minutes -- double Houston's trips -- with their attack-minded approach. Sessions, as usual, took six foul shots in just 18 minutes played.

This is who they are when they're at their best. Wall and Bradley Beal don't have to score 30. Gortat can be himself as a pick-and-roll big while Nene doesn't waste the limited time he has clogging up the paint. If Neal has it going early with his jump shot, stick with him. If he doesn't, there are other options (Kelly Oubre) if more defense is the answer. 

"When our offense is really small we can space the floor. We just got to have all guards kind of help rebound at times," said Wall, who was two rebounds short of a triple-double. "Early on we were getting killed on the boards and we went back to helping each other out and we were able to get into some transition."

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Should Bradley Beal be an All-NBA selection?


Wizards Tipoff podcast: Should Bradley Beal be an All-NBA selection?

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, host Chase Hughes was joined by guest co-host Travis Thomas to break down Bradley Beal's All-NBA chances and John Wall's injury rehab.

They also discussed the crazy Eastern Conference playoff race, Trae Young's draft stock and essentials for a good snow day.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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What are Bradley Beal's chances of earning All-NBA?

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What are Bradley Beal's chances of earning All-NBA?

Bradley Beal has been indispensable for the Wizards this season with John Wall having missed 33 of their 70 games, or nearly half of their schedule so far. Beal's numbers are up in several categories from last season and he earned his first All-Star selection as a result.

Becoming an NBA All-Star is very difficult. Usually, about six guards per conference are picked each year. Being All-NBA is even more exclusive, as only six guards are selected from the entire league.

Wall has done it before and Beal may be in position to accomplish the feat himself this season. As of now, Beal could be considered on the bubble for third-team All-NBA.


It is an extremely competitive race and there are several locks to earn the honors. At this point, guys like James Harden and Russell Westbrook should get in easily. But after that, the next four spots are hard to sort out.

Based on his numbers, Damian Lillard of the Blazers should be a shoe-in. He is the best player on the third-place team in the Western Conference and is second among all NBA guards in points per game (26.6). He is also averaging 6.5 assists and 4.4 rebounds. He has already been All-NBA twice in his career and should get his third nod after this season.

DeMar DeRozan of the Raptors is probably the next-most likely to get in. He has led the top team in the Eastern Conference, was an All-Star starter in February and got his first All-NBA selection last year.

After those is where it gets interesting. The reason why is injuries. Stephen Curry in any other year would be a guarantee for All-NBA, but as of now he has played just 50 games. Consider that the NBA requires a player to appear in 58 games or more, or 70 percent of his team's games, to qualify for statistical leaderboards. 


Curry has returned to practice, but due to health and possibly rest down the stretch of the season, there is a chance he doesn't hit the 58-game threshold. That may present an interesting question for the voters.

Kyrie Irving of the Celtics is also hurt. He has played in 60 games with 11 left on Boston's schedule. The same goes for Jimmy Butler of the Timberwolves. He is rehabbing a torn meniscus and currently has only played 56 games. 

Chris Paul of the Rockets has appeared in 53 games due to injuries. Though his numbers could put him in the All-NBA conversation, Devin Booker of the Suns has played in just 54 games.

If injuries do preclude Curry in particular from getting in, then the door could be open the door for Beal. He would then have to beat out guys like Victor Oladipo of the Pacers, Irving, Butler and others.

Setting aside the most likely three to get All-NBA - Harden, Westbrook and Lillard - and Curry, let's take a look at how Beal stacks up statistically to the rest of the pack. 

Bradley Beal - 23.3 ppg, 4.7 apg, 4.5 rpg, 1.2 spg, 46.3 FG%, 37.4 3PT%

DeMar DeRozan - 23.7 ppg, 5.1 apg, 4.0 rpg, 1.1 spg, 46.1 FG%, 32.4 3PT%

Victor Oladipo - 23.3 ppg, 4.2 apg, 5.2 rpg, 2.3 spg, 47.1 FG%, 36.6 3PT%

Kyrie Irving - 24.4 ppg, 5.1 apg, 3.8 rpg, 1.8 spg, 49.1 FG%, 40.8 3PT%

Jimmy Butler - 22.2 ppg, 5.0 apg, 5.4 rpg, 1.9 spg, 47.3 FG%, 35.6 3PT%

Devin Booker - 24.9 ppg, 4.7 apg, 4.5 rpg, 0.9 spg, 43.2 FG%, 38.3 3PT%

Chris Paul - 18.8 ppg, 7.9 apg, 5.6 rpg, 1.7 spg, 45.9 FG%, 38.5 3PT%


As you see, not a whole lot is separating those guys. It may come down to team performance and other factors.

Working in Beal's favor is that he's been the most durable of the bunch. He has played in every one of the Wizards' games this season.

Beal has also helped keep his team in contention despite Wall's absence. The Wizards are on pace for 47 wins, not far off their 49 victories last year, and Beal has been the biggest reason.

But Irving's case is helped similarly by all the injuries in Boston, including to Gordan Hayward. He has been the best player on the second-best team in the Eastern Conference.

Oladipo has led the Pacers to an impressive season despite not having another All-Star in the lineup. DeRozan, Beal, Irving and Butler have better supporting casts.


Say injuries do work against Curry, Paul, Irving and Booker. And assume DeRozan is safely in as the fourth guy behind Harden, Westbrook and Lillard. That could mean Beal gets in alongside Oladipo.

If Curry, Paul or Irving get in despite missing double-digit games, that would probably bump Beal out of the mix. Oladipo has slightly better numbers and has drawn lots of acclaim for being the best player on a surprise Pacers team and he's no guarantee himself.

Beal has 12 games left to prove his case and clearly a lot of factors are in play, but the idea of him making All-NBA for the first time is not out of the question.

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