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One-on-one: Rebirth for Roy Hibbert with Lakers?


One-on-one: Rebirth for Roy Hibbert with Lakers?

The start of the 2015-16 season remains several weeks away, which means there is time for reflection on what the Washington Wizards accomplished and a chance to look at the NBA road ahead. For the next couple of weeks, CSNwashington.com Insider J. Michael and Wizards correspondent Ben Standig will examine various issues and answer questions as the Wizards move toward a possible third straight playoff appearance.

Roy Hibbert gets literally dumped by the Pacers, but is playing with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers a good spot to turn things around?

 J. Michael: If by “turn things around” you mean not be the scapegoat for when the Lakers lose – a lot – then yes. There will be plenty of targets for the Lakers (namely coach Byron Scott), who Kobe Bryant believes can be a playoff team in the loaded Western Conference. That pain medicine he’s taking is having serious side effects.

In Indiana, Hibbert went from All-Star to sacrificial lamb. It’s hard to imagine a starting center who is 7-2 struggling to rebound but Hibbert had three or less 15 times last season.  In 2013-14, when the Pacers were the No. 1 seed in the East, Hibbert had three rebounds or less seven times in the playoffs alone, including twice when he posted a doughnut. They didn’t make it to the NBA Finals. And a $17 million salary made things worse.

Everything is relative. In L.A., they have to do something drastic to help turn the franchise around. Taking a gamble on Hibbert is worth it and he will be considered an upgrade from Jordan Hill and Carlos Boozer in a lot of ways. It’s a one-year commitment so if Hibbert fails, he’s gone anyway. Given how so many teams play small out West, they’re going to make Hibbert’s foot speed a liability. And Scott is stubborn enough to leave him on the floor to defend Draymond Green. 

I can’t see Hibbert turning things around with the Lakers. But it’s still better for him than Indiana.

Ben Standig: I'm not as completely negative on the 2015-16 Lakers as others, though they probably still won't make the playoffs which will drive Kobe Bryant crazy and make good TV for the rest of us. The veteran additions of Hibbert, Brandon Bass and Lou Williams plus No. 2 overall pick D'Angelo Russell significantly upgrades the overall talent pool. Combined with Bryant, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle, Los Angeles can field an interesting rotation when healthy. 

Yet projecting how these random pieces fit together and if coach Byron Scott can do just that is a concern especially when focusing on Hibbert. The 7-foot-2 center doesn't do hodge podge. His low post and methodical style isn't truly malleable. Put Hibbert in controlled half court offensive sets on one end and a organize a group defensive plan on the other that schemes ball handlers his way, then perhaps he flashes previous All-Star form.

None of that seems likely with this group. On the surface, Hibbert's style doesn't mesh with gunners like Bryant and Williams. Collectively this group doesn't have a lockdown defense vibe. Hibbert's offense comes from setup's an he'll have baby point guards in Clarkson and Russell feeding him the ball.

All that said, simply being out of Indiana may give Hibbert the spark he needs for a rebirth. Getting starred down by Bryant during one of his funks will not.

RELATED: Former assistant convicted of stealing millions from Arenas 

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The Wizards dominated Game 3 because everybody ate ... literally

The Wizards dominated Game 3 because everybody ate ... literally

The Wizards returned to Washington, D.C. on Friday down 0-2 to the Raptors in their best-of-seven 2018 NBA Playoffs first-round series

The team lost a close one in Game 1 and was run out of the building in Game 2. Game 3 was must-win, and the Wizards knew what needed to happen in order for them to secure the victory.

"Everybody eats." 

That's the phrase that has defined the Wizards throughout much of the season They are at their best when John Wall is making plays and feeding his teammates.

On Friday night, the Wizards beat the Raptors 122-103 to force at least a Game 5. Wall finished with 28 points and 14 assists.

Bradley Beal finally broke out of his slump for 28 points and  Marcin Gortat, Mike Scott and Kelly Oubre all chipped in with at least 10 points.

But the stat sheet wasn't the only place where everybody eats.

Here's Marcin Gortat from Game 3. 

But if pantomiming isn't your thing, here is Bradley Beal actually eating popcorn during Game 3.

So what did we learn in Game 3? Well, for starters: "Everybody Eats" is not just a motto, it is a way of life.





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With Playoff Beal back, the Wizards are revitalized in playoff series vs. Raptors

With Playoff Beal back, the Wizards are revitalized in playoff series vs. Raptors

The Toronto Raptors were only going to hold Bradley Beal down for so long. After two so-so games to begin the Wizards-Raptors playoff series, the All-Star shooting guard was bound to find his way offensively and that arrival came in a Game 3 win on Friday night.

Beal was brilliant and much more in line with what he's shown in the postseason throughout his career. Game 2 was his worst playoff game as an NBA player, he scored only nine points. Game 3 was one of his best on the postseason stage, or at least one of his most timely and important.

The Wizards needed more from Beal to give themsevles a chance in this series. An 0-3 deficit would have been a death sentence. His production is so key to their success that head coach Scott Brooks and point guard John Wall met with Beal in between Games 2 and 3 to figure out how to get him going.

Whether that was the catalyst or not, the results followed. Beal poured in 28 points in 10-for-19 shooting with four rebounds, four assists and three steals. He hit four threes, more than he had in the first two games combined.

Beal wasted no time to make an impact scoring the ball. His first points came on a quick burst to the basket where he stopped on a dime, turned around and banked it in. By the end of the first quarter, he had 12 points in 11 minutes.

“I just wanted to be aggressive, get shots that I wanted which is what they were going to force me to take," Beal said.

After Game 2, Brooks and Beal described how physical the Raptors were defending him. They were holding on to him and staying close, even when he wasn't moving off the ball.

Brooks saw a difference in how Beal responded to that in Game 3.

"Brad came out and was looking to go towards the basket and not just letting them hold him and going along with it. He didn’t want to dance with his opponent, he wanted to get away from them. That was a critical part of his success," Brooks said.

Beal's 28 points were as much as he scored in Games 1 and 2 together and just about what he averaged through four games against the Raptors during the regular season (28.8). By halftime of Game 3, Beal had 21 points on 8-for-11 from the field.

Beal hit two threes in the first quarter and another two in the second quarter. Several of those threes were set up by Wall, who used the meeting with Brooks and Beal to ask how he can set him up better as the point guard.

In Game 3, they were on the same page.

"I do think this man [John Wall] next to me, he creates and facilitates for the whole team and gets everybody easy shots," Beal said. "I talk to you guys all the time and I can’t tell you the last time I actually got a regular catch and shoot three just in a regular half court set. When he came back, I got like three or four off the bat."

What Beal did in Game 3 is what the Wizards are used to seeing from him this time of the year. Despite being only 24 years old, he has a strong track record in the playoffs.

Through 37 career postseason games, Beal is averaging 22.3 points, more than his career average of 18.7 in the regular season. In each of his previous three postseason runs, he has averaged more points during the playoffs than he did in the regular seasons leading up.

That production has earned him the nickname 'Playoff Beal' and when he goes off like he did in Game 3, good things usually happen. The Wizards are 10-6 in the playoffs during his career when he scores 25 points or more.

Wall also boasts impressive career numbers in the playoffs. When the Wizards have both of their stars playing at their best, they are hard to beat. With peak Beal on board, this series looks a lot different than it did not that long ago.





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