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Must-win game for Wizards against 76ers? You could say that


Must-win game for Wizards against 76ers? You could say that

Nothing explains the current state of the Washington Wizards' season better than this. Even though 35 games remain, Friday's home game nearly veers into must-win territory. Friday's opponent is the Philadelphia 76ers, owners of the NBA's worst record. Here's the thing. Since Jan. 16, the 76ers have a better record than the Wizards. Philadelphia might be a league-wide punchline, but there is little funny about how serious this matchup is for Washington less than a week before the league-wide All-Star break.

"You can't [just] say it's the next game," Wizards guard Garrett Temple said at Friday's morning shootaround.

Jared Dudley agrees.

"We're playing a team that's been struggling, but playing better of late. We're at home. We're struggling at home. We need to get a win," the veteran forward said. 

Nothing comes easy these days for Washington (21-26), which has lost seven of nine games including three straight in Chinatown. 

When it comes to the NBA standings, the defending champion Golden State Warriors and Philadelphia 76ers are the extremes. In consecutive home games, the Washington Wizards will go from playing a heralded, rock star squad with only four losses in nearly 50 games to a team with a 7-42 record. Philadelphia has lost three in a row including Wednesday's 124-86 debacle against Atlanta.

"We're at the point where we shouldn't look past anybody," Wizards guard Garrett Temple said. "Only time will tell. We'll find out at 7:00. Not only that, we've had experience with a team that was the laughing stock of the league come in here a couple of months ago and beat [us]. We have to make sure that doesn't happen again."

RELATED: Wittman set to return to Wizards

Temple is of course referring to the loss against the 2-14 Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 3. 

Since Jan. 16, Washington is 2-7. Philadelphia, playing better since acquiring guard Ish Smith, is 3-6.

The primary issue for the Wizards remains defense. Washington is 1-3 in its last four games despite averaging 113.7 points. Denver, Houston, Oklahoma City and Golden State averaged 122 against them.

"The positives for us over the last 4-5 games is that offensively we're back," Dudley noted. "We can score 100-plus. We've shown that. Now the question is can we get enough stops. That's the whole question. Turnovers, rebounding...defending the 3."

The question against the 76ers involves can the Wizards prevent Smith from taking control. The quick point guard was with Washington in training camp and started the season in New Orleans before joining Philadelphia around Christmas. Since then, the 76ers are 6-12 after starting 1-30. Smith's presence helping to direct traffic for the inexperienced roster is a reason why. In 18 games he's averaging 15.4 points and 8.1 assists.

"They're a different team over the last month," Temple said. "Ish gives them a guy who can control the pace, push the pace, get in the paint and throw lobs."

After facing the 76ers, the Wizards play three straight road games before the break. Close out strong and the playoff talk, not to mention confidence remains. Limp into the break and who knows.

"We need to finish on a positive note before the break then everyone can reset and come back," Dudley said. "You never want to call February must-win games, but it's the closest of a must-win February game you can possibly get and it's something we need to get going for confidence wise."

Notes: Wizards coach Randy Wittman did not attend shootaround, but he is expected to be on the sideline Friday night. Wittman missed the last two games following the passing of his brother.

MORE WIZARDS: No Wizards selected for All-Star Saturday night events

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.


The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.


Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one. 



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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Wizards' 122-105 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night...

1. This was a tough one for the Wizards. For the third time this season, they got beaten by the Hornets and for the second straight time it was in a blowout.

They still had their moments, though, including this alley-oop from Tomas Satoransky (11 points) to Markieff Morris (13 points, eight assists, six rebounds). It was the second alley-oop connection for those two in as many games:


2. This was a play that encapsulated the Wizards' night. Jodie Meeks drew a flagrant foul on Michael Carter-Williams, but took a hard shot to the head:

3. Kelly Oubre, Jr. had a solid game with 11 points, including this big dunk:


4. Speaking of Oubre, he helped the Wizards close the first half with a late surge. The real highlight was Bradley Beal stealing the ball and hitting a corner three at the buzzer:

5. Beal ended up with 33 points, six assists and six rebounds. Here's an and-1 he got to go down in the second half:

All in all, it was an ugly performance for the Wizards. To cheer you up, we'll leave you with this young fan who had a great time at Capital One Arena despite the result: