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Morning tip: Wizards' worst losses had little to do with injury

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Morning tip: Wizards' worst losses had little to do with injury

Every time the reasons for the Wizards' losing record has been explained, injuries is among the first topics to arise. For months, I've said I can think of a dozen that had zero to do with who was or wasn't on the court for them. 

In a few instances, such as their first loss to the Dallas Mavericks, could be blamed on being shorthanded because they played well but didn't have enough bigs at the time. So instead of speaking of it anecdotally, let's look at them the 12 worst that I witnessed (though there are about 3-5 more worthy of strong consideration):

12.  Nov. 28 vs. Toronto Raptors 84-82: Wall missed two free throws with five seconds left that would've assured the Wizards no worse than a tie at the end of regulation. But they also led 80-72 with 4:04 remaining in the game, so it never should've come down to that anyway. A crucial shot-clock turnover with 2:29 left (sound familiar?) was crippling. The regular starting five was on the floor. It was Jared Dudley's first time taking the four spot in place of Kris Humphries who came off the bench.

11. Nov. 7 at Atlanta Hawks 114-99: Leading 90-88 with 6:49 left in the game, the Wizards collapsed as the Hawks closed with a 24-7 run. The Wizards lost Bradley Beal to a left shoulder contusion but they weren't undermanned. Wall had seven turnovers and Beal eight. All the momentum they'd gained in upsetting the San Antonio Spurs on Beal's game-winning, stepback three-point shot officially evaporated. It was their third game in a row with 20-plus giveaways.

10. Dec. 11 at New Orleans Pelicans 107-105: This was the first game Beal would miss because of a stress injury to his lower right leg, for the fourth season in a row. But the Pelicans had more injuries and weren't a good shooting team even when healthy. The Wizards, who led 97-90 with 6:26 left, allowed 16 of 27 shooting from three-point range. The Pelicans didn't even have their best long-range shooter in Ryan Anderson. Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans combined to make 10 of 13 threes. 

9. Jan. 16 vs. Boston Celtics 119-117: In losing to them for the third time in the season, the Wizards had five turnovers in the fourth quarter to doom them. Yes, they didn't have Otto Porter or Humphries because of injuries and Beal was rested in the second game of a back-to-back. The Celtics got the game-winner off an ATO, taking advantage of the Wizards' lack of adjustments on how they'd defend certain inbounds plays. Coach Brad Stevens hit them with a play, a lob over the top to Jae Crowder, knowing there wouldn't be weakside coverage. The Wizards were caught off-guard.

8. Nov. 24 vs. Indiana Pacers 123-106: The Wizards' last time they were above. 500 came after this disappointment, dropping them to 6-5 as Paul George and C.J. Miles combined to shoot 15 of 17 on three-point attempts. Wall had eight turnovers and Porter couldn't keep up with George. 

7. Jan. 28 vs. Denver Nuggets 117-113: Coach Randy Wittman went big with Nene and Gortat in the starting lineup and seven players scored in double figures for Washington. Porter had to leave after irritating his right hip and Beal was in his first game back since a concussion/broken nose. But this one stunk so bad -- the Wizards trailed by 18 points early -- that Dudley slammed the locker room door shut after the game ended to have a players-only meeting. 

6. March 11 at Utah Jazz 114-93: In desperate need to come out of this three-game road trip with a winning record, the Wizards dropped their second in a row. Utah shot 11 of 13 (84.6%) in the period. The Wizards, retooled with Markieff Morris, Marcus Thornton and J.J. Hickson, had no idea how to defend the pick-and-rolls run by the Jazz. They never figured it out and were embarrassed.

5. Nov. 25 at Charlotte Hornets 101-87: Heading towards certain victory, the Wizards allowed a 25-2 run and shot 1 of 20 from the field in the fourth quarter. They were healthy, too. 

4. Dec. 2 vs. L.A. Lakers 108-104: A slam-dunk victory at home turned into a disgrace in which 75% of the arena morphed into Kobe Byrant fans because of a non-effort defensively. Bryant turned back to the clock to score a season-high 31 and the Wizards didn't learn from last season when Bryant had his way against Beal. 

3. Feb. 24 at Chicago Bulls 109-104: Missing Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, they still worked the Wizards inside. It took Wittman too long to get away from the Dudley vs. Taj Gibson mismatch. Gibson alone went on an 11-0 run. The overall inability to defend the perimeter 1 v. 1 opened the gates to higher-percentage looks as Doug McDermott, Tony Snell and E'Twaun Moore inflicted the worse damage. 

2. March 12 at Denver Nuggets 116-100: Marcus Thornton's jumper with 2:08 left in the third quarter put the Wizards up 76-65 and then they ended up outscored by the Nuggets' reserves 41-17 in the fourth. It was an embarrassing defensive effort in which D.J. Augustin and Jusuf Nurkic simply ran the pick-and-roll until the Wizards were delirious. Denver's bench scored 75 points. 

1.  March 25 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves 132-129 2OT: Every time it seems the losses can't get any worse, but they do. In a must-win situation and their playoff lives hanging in the balance, the Wizards botched multiple chances to win in regulation and in both extra periods.They allowed a 23-win team to score 62 first-half points. The Wizards blew a seven-point lead and allowed the score to be tied with 20 seconds left in regulation, lost a four-point lead in the first overtime with less than one minute left and a five-point lead with 2:39 left in the second OT that included two missed foul shots by Gortat with 15 ticks remaining. Yes, Morris didn't return after injuring his left calf in the first quarter which didn't help but that has nothing to do with such a monumental letdown.

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Bradley Beal thoroughly impressed by LeBron James after being his teammate at All-Star Game

Bradley Beal thoroughly impressed by LeBron James after being his teammate at All-Star Game

As a member of the Washington Wizards, Bradley Beal has had many battles with LeBron James over the years, first with the Miami Heat and now with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Over the weekend, Beal got to experience having James as a teammate for the first time at the All-Star Game in Los Angeles.

It was an eye-opening endeavor. Beal got to see up close and personal James' abilities and his routine to maximize them. In a group of the best players on the planet, James stood out.

"It was surreal at first, just being around all the guys," Beal said. "Even just being on his team for two days, that was an unbelievable experience."

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Beal, 24, is six seasons in to his NBA career and from experience has learned how to train for the rigors of an 82-game regular season. What James does at 33 years old to stay in peak form, however, is next level.

"To see his preparation, his focus and his mentality and what he does to take care of his body before and after games," Beal said. "That's the true testament to a Hall of Famer and one of the best to ever play the game."

James actually assisted Beal's first points in the All-Star Game, a two-handed dunk in the first quarter. James attacked the rim on a fastbreak to draw attention, then found Beal with a dump-off pass for an easy bucket.

RELATED: WIZARDS HAVE BIG QUESTIONS TO ANSWER IN SECOND HALF

It was an example of James' tricks of the trade. He is not just the most athletic player on the court, he is also the smartest when it comes to the game of basketball.

"His approach and his leadership and everything, it's top notch. It's crazy because you always play against him and to play with him, you get experience the other side of it," Beal said.

Beal, however, did note that much of what he gleaned from James was by watching him. At the end of the day, they are competitors and James isn't going to give away all of his secrets.

"He's not disclosing that information," Beal joked.

The Wizards happen to play James and the Cavs in their first game back from the All-Star break on Thursday night. Once again, Beal will be on the other side. 

RELATED: 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT HAS LOADED CLASS

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Walt Williams talks Wizards, his NBA career and life after basketball

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NBC Sports Washington

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Walt Williams talks Wizards, his NBA career and life after basketball

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes was joined by former NBA player Walt Williams for a wide-ranging discussion. Williams talked about the Wizards, his show on NBC Sports Washington and his playing career.

Williams also projected the NBA prospects of Maryland Terrapins stars Bruno Fernando and Kevin Huerter.

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!