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Morning tip: Wizards' vets say 'lot of work to do' for Wall, Beal

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Morning tip: Wizards' vets say 'lot of work to do' for Wall, Beal

The very second that John Wall and Bradley Beal returned for the 2015-16 season with the Wizards, the inevitable questions about being the NBA's best backcourt.  And any backcourt worth its salt will give the same, predictable response like they did: "Yes." 

It'll cause mild controversy (it shouldn't) and make for good headlines and fodder as teams head into training camp. But even veteran teammates such as Drew Gooden and Jared Dudley understand there's more to it than lip service. It's about results. In the playoffs, Wall and Beal have helped the Wizards get farther than Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors two years in a row. And this past season, they dominated the matchup with a playoff sweep.

So the last hurdle is Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors, who won the NBA championship. That might will take a lot more convincing.

“They have a lot of work to do to become the best," said Wizards forward Drew Gooden. "Are they up there? Yes. But to separate themselves, we got a lot of work to do.”

That means getting the Wizards past the second round of the playoffs. Beal could be in a contract year if he doesn't come to terms on an extension before Oct. 31. Unlike Wall, he has yet to make an All-Star Game or avoid injuries. If he wants the Wizards to show him the money, whether that's now or after the season when he becomes a restricted free agent, he has to take the biggest leap. As a point guard, Wall already is the best player at his position in the conference. Beal has yet to rise to that level as a shooting guard.

"Brad has to put in a season where he’s healthy. You want him to put in, if not 82, close to 75 games. Get him to that All-Star level," said Dudley, who is in his first seasons with the Wizards. "John has been a two-time All-Star. John is doing well. The question is does John want to be in top 15 or 20 or top 5, top 10. That’s a huge step for him to take. Bradley has gotten better with the ball. It seems he’s more assertive scoring. Our best scorer. Bradley has a bigger jump to make than John because of health and getting to the All-Star Game."

The Wizards had chances in each of the last two seasons to upset the No. 1 seed in the East in the second round. Last season, Wall broke his left hand and wrist to end their quest in six vs. the Atlanta Hawks. Still, there's no guarantee that even with Wall healthy that the Wizards would've gotten past the Cleveland Cavaliers with LeBron James.

Dudley, who spent most of his career with the Phoenix Suns, knows about coming close. They pushed the eventual champion L.A. Lakers to six games in 2010.

“The good thing about them, they’re having chance after chance," Dudley said of Wall, in his sixth year and signed through 2019, and Beal who enters his fourth. "When I was in Phoenix, the team got broken up real fast. Amar’e (Stoudemire) signed with New York. You see the Spurs, people know the Spurs, ‘Hey you’re getting too old,' but the thing about the Spurs they have gotten old but their continuity and chemistry keep improving. In this day and age, it’s so tough to improve your continuity with free-agent signings, new people coming in here. They’ve had their core for a long time so they’ll keep improving. To get to the finals, you have to beat LeBron. That’s what it comes down to. It’s easier said than done."

That's all Wall and Beal have to do. Then the question of "Who's the No. 1 backcourt" becomes a more serious debate.

RELATED: WALL STILL COMMITTED TO HIS 'BUDDY'

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Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

On a roll

The Wizards have some serious momentum going right now. With an impressive win over the Cavs on Thursday, they have now won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. They had a week off due to the All-Star break, but didn't show any rust at all in their first game back.

The Wizards are now 34-24, 10 games above the .500 mark. They are fourth in the East and could move into third on Friday if they win and the Cavaliers lose. Even with Wall out, things continue to look up for Washington.

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Hornets have had their number

The Wizards haven't done so well against the Hornets so far this season. Charlotte has taken both meetings and that includes a 24-point win on Jan. 17. That game featured Dwight Howard taunting the Wizards late in the fourth quarter.

Howard has killed the Wizards through two games with averages of 22.0 points and 14.0 rebounds. Jeremy Lamb (20.0 ppg vs. Wizards) has been a big factor as well as All-Star Kemba Walker (21.5 ppg vs. Wizards).

The last time these teams played about a month ago frustrations boiled over in an incident that got Tim Frazier ejected. Michael Carter-Williams picked a fight with Jason Smith and Frazier went off:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

Hornets coming in hot

The Hornets are outside the playoff picture at the moment at eight games below .500, but they have won two straight games and Walker and Howard are coming off huge games. In a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, Walker dropped 31 points and Howard grabbed 24 rebounds.

Those guys will be riding a high coming into Washington on Friday. But it should be noted that Howard complained after the game how tired he is at this point in the season. That exhausion could affect him more in the second game of a back-to-back.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

 

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 110-103 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night...

1. The Wizards didn't start out well, as they trailed by nine points at the end of the first quarter. Kelly Oubre, Jr. stumbled early by missing four of his first six shots and it looked like a carryover of his slump before the All-Star break.

But Oubre got hot in the second quarter and helped the Wizards turn the game around. This was one of his best plays, a two-handed slam that he celebrated with an emphatic scream to the crowd:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

2. Tomas Satoransky was one of the stars of the game. He had 17 points to go along with eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. 

Here's one of his dimes, a perfect alley-oop lob to Markieff Morris, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds:

3. Satoransky has reached double-figures in six of the 10 games since John Wall went out with an injury. This was a very impressive move, a stepback fadeaway that was super smooth:

RELATED: GET TO KNOW NEW WIZARDS FREE AGENT SIGNING

4. Ian Mahinmi made some key contributions including four offensive rebounds and a steal. This was his best basket, a powerful slam that came at a key time:

5. This play helped seal the victory. It was a smart after-timeout set drawn up by head coach Scott Brooks and it worked to perfection:

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS