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Oladipo can't break losing spell against hometown Wizards


Oladipo can't break losing spell against hometown Wizards

Victor Oladipo grew up in the shadow of Verizon Center, but showed no interest in playing for the Washington Wizards heading into the 2013 NBA Draft. Considering the Wizards already had John Wall and Bradley Beal, that stance, while in the neighborhood of professional impoliteness, was understandable. It also may have been the equivalent of breaking a mirror as a black cat crossed your path on a Friday the 13th.

Since being drafted by the Orlando Magic, Oladipo has now faced his hometown team 11 times, including the New Year's Day matchup in Chinatown. His side is 0-11.

The Wizards improved to 3-0 over the Magic this season by conjuring up a 103-91 win.

Oladipo led Orlando with 20 points while adding five assists and four steals, but the Magic faded over the final eight minutes as the Wizards closed the game with a 25-11 run.

The wing guard and DeMatha product added his thoughts on the series after the loss.

“We just got to do a better job, man. We just got to realize they've been punking us, really, honestly," said Oladipo, who has played in nine of the 11 losses. "Until we get tired of them punking us, we're never gonna beat them so we just need to do a better job."

Orlando's last win in the series occurred at home on March 29, 2013. Since then, yikes.

Four months later, the Magic selected Oladipo with the second overall selection in the 2013 NBA Draft. The Wizards held the next pick.

The Magic nearly ended the skid in the 2015 season opener, but John Wall hit the go-ahead layup with 12.7 seconds left as the Wizards won 88-87. Washington also triumphed 108-99 in Chinatown on Nov. 14.

Sixth in the Eastern Conference with a 19-14 record, the perennial NBA lottery team is on track for a playoff berth in the first year under coach Scott Skiles. Solving the Wizards clearly requires more work.

"This isn't just this season," Skiles said of the losing streak. "I don't know. I don't know if guys are intimidated by them. I have no idea."

Wall, who had 24 points and 13 assists in the latest win, couldn't provide any specific reason for the head-to-head domination.

"I don't know," the point guard said. "I think we do a great job moving the ball. ...We got the looks we wanted and we gave ourselves a chance to win."    

Washington often got the looks it wanted because Orlando couldn't keep up with the Wizards' movement of any kind. 

Recalling what he saw from the game film during halftime, Skiles said, "The transition clips were embarrassing. ...They were sprinting. We were jogging." 

Other than woes against the Wizards, the Magic appear headed in the right direction with the youthful core of Oladipo, Tobias Harris and Nik Vucevic. In between the last two meetings with Washington, Orlando went 14-7. 

The Wizards (15-16) are three games back and 11th in the standings. They also apparently have the right plan against Oladipo and company. 

"They're aggressive, they deny us, they make us work but that just means we got to cut even harder and play even harder," Oladipo said. "We can't fold. Until we do that, we're never going to beat them. So we just need to do a better job. Not only them but around the league people are going to start playing us like that so we got to be ready for that. We got to be ready for guys to push up on us and push us around and try to push us around. We got to fight back. We just need to do a better job of that.”

Oladipo and the Magic have one more chance this season of breaking the losing spell. The series finale is set for Jan. 9 in Orlando.

Back in 2013, pre-draft reports had Oladipo passing on working out at Verizon Center for the Wizards. They could stop by DeMatha for a closer look at the Upper Marlboro native. Seeing as Washington was building with Wall and Beal, drafting the Indiana University standout would have been a bit of an outside the box move despite Oladipo's athleticism and potential.

Ultimately, it didn't matter as the Magic scooped him up while the Wizards selected Otto Porter.

It doesn't seem to matter what Orlando does in this series. Based on his postgame demeanor, losing to his hometown over and over and over again matters to Oladipo, as it should.

Whether some form of karma or bad luck plays a role in the losing streak, who knows. At least the Magic know flipping the calendar year didn't help.

MORE WIZARDS: Kelly Oubre loses sight of lobs from Wall: 'I couldn't see'

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Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Associated Press

Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Bradley Beal may have had a slow start in the three-point contest on Saturday night, but in Sunday's All-Star Game he worked quickly to make the most of his relatively small window of playing time.

Beal checked in for the first time with 5:45 left in the first quarter and less than 25 seconds later had his first points on a two-handed dunk assisted by LeBron James.

In his All-Star debut, Beal helped lead Team LeBron to a 148-145 victory over Team Stephen as the league utilizied a new format for the annual showcase.


Beal finished with 14 points and a steal in a productive night. He shot 5-for-10 from the field and an impressive 4-for-8 from long range. 

Beal also tried to get a travelling call from the refs on Karl-Anthony Towns. Yeah, that's not likely to happen in an All-Star Game:

Beal more than held his own and only played 16 minutes, which was good considering he has logged the fifth-most minutes of any player so far this season. A realistic best-case scenario was a strong showing and a short night and that's exactly what he got.

Not only does Beal play a lot of minutes, the Wizards need him now more than ever with John Wall's injury. He needs whatever rest he can get during this All-Star break.

Speaking of Wall, he was in the house despite being in the middle of his rehab from left knee surgery. Per usual, Wall was shining bright:


The All-Star Game wasn't all about Beal, of course. Here are some other things that stood out...

*The new format and increased financial incentive were intended to make the game more competitive and that's what happened late in the fourth quarter. Usually, that's how these things go where the players will start trying at the end. But this time it seemed to be up a few levels and it was fun to watch. 

Both teams scored in the 140s, so it wasn't exactly a defensive battle. No matter what the league does, the players will only try so hard for so long. The main goal of everyone's is to not get injured in a game that ultimately doesn't count for anything. Still, this was different and appears to have been a success.

*While everyone was focusing on the reunion of LeBron and Kyrie Irving the best beef was Joel Embiid vs. Russell Westbrook. Those two have traded waves to taunt each other at the end of wins in head-to-head matchups and it was clear on Sunday they still don't like each other. Westbrook tried to dunk all over Embiid in the first half, only to get blocked at the rim.

Westbrook's determination to dunk on Embiid was out of the ordinary for an All-Star Game. It was obvious what was on his mind:

*Irving's handles are simply ridiculous. Check out this fake behind-the-back move he pulled with Giannis Antetkounmpo guarding him. Yes, it didn't fool the defender but it was impressive nonetheless:

*LeBron is 33 years old, yet he was still running up and down the court faster than anyone and leaping above the rim to thrown down alley-oop after alley-oop. It is truly amazing and everyone should enjoy watching him while they can, regardless of whether they like the guy or not.

This was one of his dunks:

LeBron took home MVP with a game-high 29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and a steal.

*The pregame show was quite bad. It was anchored by comedians Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle and, though they had some funny jokes, it lasted nearly 30 minutes. The whole thing was pretty much universally panned on social media. Fergie's national anthem was also roasted by the masses.

*The halftime show was much better. It began with N.E.R.D taking it back to their older days with 'Lapdance,' went to Migos performing 'Stir Fry' and swung back to N.E.R.D. who did their latest hit 'Lemon.' 


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The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

Whoever put together the NBA All-Star Game player introductions has some 'splainin to do. 

The NBA introduced a kinda-full Staples Center to their 2018 All-Stars about an hour ago, and boy was it weird. There were a lot of dancers in different themed costumes. Kevin Hart was screaming. Rob Riggle was screaming. Ludacris showed up? Hey! Did you know that the Barenaked Ladies are still a band? The NBA would like you to know they're still around.  The whole thing was like when you're at an art museum and you're told that abstract piece in the corner is actually really meaningful but you gotta be honest, you don't get it. 

Anyways, the internet hated it. Here are some highlights from the internet hating it:

The lesson here is that you never need Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle. One will do.