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Popovich heaps praise on Beal, 'brilliant' Wall


Popovich heaps praise on Beal, 'brilliant' Wall

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich lived up to his cantankerous reputation during a pregame media session Wednesday night before facing the Wizards. One of his gems came following a question about whether he noticed a change in Washington guards John Wall and Bradley Beal this season.

"I haven't watched them," he dryly replied.

Popovich received an up close up look at Washington's dynamic backcourt Wednesday night. Praise from the five-time NBA champion coach followed.

Beal scored 25 points including the game-winning 3-pointer with 0.3 seconds left in the Wizards' 102-99 win. Wall finished with 17 points. He fed Beal on Washington's final play for one of his 13 assists.

“I thought he was brilliant," Popovich said of Wall.

That's also an apt description Beal's start this season. The fourth-year guard is the third player in Wizards/Bullets history and first since 1968 with at least 24 points in each of the team's first four games of the season.

The game's last shot occurred after Washington's play design set up the wing guard on the perimeter against 6-foot-11 forward LaMarcus Aldridge. After faking a screen, Beal floated to the right wing, received the pass from Wall, took a one hop dribble left and released another textbook jumper. Splash.

"John told me even before we ran the play be ready because you may be open," Beal said. "[Aldridge] thought I was going to drive it ...I just knocked down the shot."

Popovich offered a similar take from his vantage point by the Spurs bench.

“[LaMarcus] had him. Bradley made a great move," Popovich noted. "He stutter-stepped, he dribbled back, he made a shot. It happens all the time.”

Washington beating San Antonio doesn't happen all the time, though the Wizards have won two straight in the series after losing 17 in a row.

RELATED Wizards Rewind: Beal's big shot shocks Spurs

Beal and Wall combined for 17 of Washington's final 19 points as the Wizards fought back to down the Western Conference power.

Reminded about his earlier "I haven't watched them" comment, Popovich said of Beal, "He’s a hell of a player. I don’t need to see film to know that.”

Wall scored 13 points in the fourth quarter. The point guard's floor game stood out to Popovich. The two-time All-Star had assists on each of Washington's first three possessions along with one on the final play.

 "He got the ball to the right people at appropriate times, often," Popovich said of Washington's leading man. "He was very consistent, he made big shots when he needed to, but the floor game was really excellent."

Wall appreciated Popovich's postgame praise.

"It's a guy I finally beat for the first time last year. He's one of the greatest coaches of all-time. Every time I have the opportunity to meet him, whether we win or lose, I want to shake his hand. It's a respect factor -- and a humbling experience to say I played against a hell of a coach like that," Wall said.

"To hear that from, it's great. When I first came [into the league], they forced me to play one-on-one. That's what I did I kind of figured out how to beat teams. To hear that from a guy like that is great. It's an honor and something I will always remember in my career."

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

Here are five plays or moments from the Wizards' 109-102 win over the Pacers on Saturday night that are worth revisiting... 

1. The Wizards took care of business against the Pacers on Saturday night and in doing so earned an important advantage in the playoff race. They won the season series and therefore own a tiebreaker for playoff seeding and currently that would mean home court advantage in the first round if the playoffs began today.

The Wizards took control early and part of that effort were five first-half assists by Bradley Beal. He ended up with 19 points, but some of his best plays were passes.

On this one, he executed a perfect pick-and-roll with Marcin Gortat:


2. This was another pretty pass to Gortat. Tomas Satoransky, who had 12 points and eight assists, fed Gortat with a nice reach-around pass on a play that featured some impressive ball movement overall:

3. This was a great moment. The Wizards had a member of the military surprise his niece on the court. She literally did not see it coming:


4. These last two plays are dunks by Kelly Oubre, Jr., who finished with 16 points. On this play, he cut through the and threw down with authority:

5. This dunk was set up by a beautiful pass from Ramon Sessions. It traveled about three-quarters of the court and Oubre did the rest:

The Wizards now have three days off before their next game as they sit fourth in the Eastern Conference. Things are trending positive for the Wizards as the playoff race heats up.

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Wizards take out Pacers to earn important advantage in playoff seeding

Wizards take out Pacers to earn important advantage in playoff seeding

The Washington Wizards beat the Indiana Pacers 109-102 on Saturday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Important victory: Saturday night's game between the Wizards and Pacers had several layers of playoff implications on the line and it was Washington who rose to the occasion and showed the urgency commensurate for the stakes.

By beating the Pacers, the Wizards locked up the season series between the teams, two games to one. That gives them the tiebreaker for playoff seeding if the teams finish the regular season with the same record. That could very well prove paramount. As of now, the Wizards and Pacers have the same record (40-30) with 12 games to go.

The season series advantage means the Wizards are above the Pacers in the standings despite having the same record. They moved into fourth place in the East with the win and the Cavs slotted back into third. There will likely be a lot more movement as these next few weeks play out, but the Wizards now hold an important edge over the Pacers.

The win also pushed the Wizards to 14-8 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. Wall could return this coming week or the week after and the Wizards have more than stayed afloat during his absence.

The Wizards' magic number to make the playoffs is now just five. 


Sato went off: The Wizards jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter mostly thanks to a hot start from Tomas Satoransky, who scored the Wizards' first five points and had 10 by the end of the first quarter.

Satoransky's floater was automatic. He dropped in several in the lane from all different angles. Satoransky was practicing the same shots, floaters off each foot, the day before in practice and it paid off.

It was a well-rounded night for Satoransky. In addition to his 12 points, he also had eight assists and five rebounds, including this one to find Marcin Gortat for the dunk:

Gortat came up big: Speaking of Gortat, the Wizards' big man had one of his best games of the season. He poured in 18 points to go along with eight rebounds, four assists a steal and a block. Gortat shot 6-for-8, consistently having his way on the block.

The Pacers were without two of their best big men in Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis and Gortat took advantage of that. He was way too much for Al Jefferson.

The Pacers tried to roll with small-ball lineups using Trevor Booker and Thaddeus Young as their big men, but it didn't work. Gortat was too big for them and his teammates did a great job finding him for open looks.

Gortat's 18 points were his most since Jan. 3 when he had a season-high 21 against the Knicks. Lately, Gortat has seen his minutes dwindle with the increased role for Ian Mahinmi, so Saturday night must have felt good for the Polish Machine.


Bojan held in check: Bojan Bogdanovic, who spent part of last season with the Wizards, was a major factor in the first two matchups between Washington and the Pacers this season. He had 20 points in one game and 29 in another, each time getting hot from three.

The Wizards, though, made some adjustments in this one and held Bo Buckets in check. He didn't make his first shot until nearly the midway point of the second quarter and it was only because Kelly Oubre, Jr. (16 points, 18 minutes) lost his balance. Oubre stumbled backward, giving Bogdanovic a split second to get off an open three. That was the only shot he hit in the first half as he began the game 1-for-4.

Oubre did a good job harrassing Bogdanovic and not giving him space on the premiter. Otto Porter (eight points) and Bradley Beal (19 points) did as well. Both Porter and Beal stripped the ball out of Bogdanovic's hands early in the third quarter. Midway through the third, Bogdanovic got past Porter only to be called for an offensive foul on a collision with Gortat. All in all, it was a frustrating night for Bogdanovic, who had 11 points, three below his season average.

Bogdanovic is a very good shooter and when he's hot can alter games. But when you take his shots away, there's not much else he can do to hurt you. The Wizards did a good job taking away his strengths and making others beat them. Not having to focus on Turner and Sabonis certainly helped. 

Sessions is still in the rotation: It turns out those five games for Ramon Sessions over the course of his second 10-day contract weren't just an audition. Now that he has been signed for the rest of the season, Sessions is still getting the nod over Tim Frazier as the backup point guard.

Sessions logged 18 minutes and even played alongside Satoransky and Jodie Meeks in the fourth quarter. The Wizards had a sizable lead and head coach Scott Brooks decided to experiment with his lineups. That is something to keep in mind for when Wall comes back. Once he does, Sessions will be the third point guard and likely rarely see the court. But if they see something they like about him at shooting guard, that could open the door for more playing time possibilities.

Up next: The Wizards have three off-days before their next game. That will be on Wednesday when they head to San Antonio to face the Spurs. Tipoff is at 9:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. Pregame coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. with Wizards HangTime.

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