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Quick-hit ability of Durant, Westbrook keeps Wiz on edge

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Quick-hit ability of Durant, Westbrook keeps Wiz on edge

If the Wizards take on the same disposition vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight that they've showed to their previous two opponents, they'll be concussed from the transition dunks from Russell Westbrook and three-pointers from Kevin Durant. 

The Thunder (4-3) can be merciless when they're in the open court. The Wizards (3-3), on a two-game losing streak with 50 turnovers combined, have been too generous.

"We know one thing, he's coming," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said of Westbrook, who is averaging 26.3 points for sixth in the NBA and a career-high 10.9 assists which is No. 1. "He's coming. If you're not ready he's going to run it up your back. He only plays one way. He plays hard. That team plays hard."

RELATED: Morning tip: Is it time for Wizards to play slower or just smarter?

It'll be a tough matchup for John Wall as Westbrook is one of the few point guards who can match up with him physically.

"You want to keep him in the half-court set as much as possible and live with him making contested jump shots," Wall said. "Kind of the same thing teams do to me."

Durant is second in scoring at 30.1 points to go with 6.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists. The Thunder average 113.3 points, second only to the Golden State Warriors. 

Even with Durant missing 55 games last season with a broken foot, Westbrook led them to 45 wins as they just missed the postseason 

"That's a team with Westbrook and Durant and they've got bigs that run that will turn turnovers into points quickly," Wittman said. "When Durant went out I thought he carried the team and almost led them to the playoffs. ... He does what he has to do for his team to win."

While the Thunder have a new coach in Billy Donovan and they play less isolation basketball than they did under Scott Brooks, when a game is on the line they revert to old habits.

"You get to late in the game, you're going to see high pick-and-roll with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook," Wall said. "Iso basketball. It's nothing different."

They key remains the Wizards' turnover-prone backcourt of Wall and Bradley Beal, who is questionable with a left shoulder contusion. They combined for 15 turnovers in 114-99 loss at the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday. In a 118-98 loss at the Boston Celtics on Friday, they had 10.

Said Wall if they have a repeat performance vs. Oklahoma City: "It can get ugly pretty quickly."

MORE WIZARDS: Wall yearns for Wizards to get Kevin Durant treatment in D.C.

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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. 

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2018 NBA All-Star Game: TV and live stream info, rosters, things to watch for dunk contest, three-point contest

2018 NBA All-Star Game: TV and live stream info, rosters, things to watch for dunk contest, three-point contest

The 2018 NBA All-Star Game is here with the annual showcase set for Los Angeles.

Here is all you need to know: TV and live stream info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

2018 NBA ALL-STAR GAME

Where: Staples Center
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: TNT
Online with no cable TV: fuboTV (try for free)

ROSTERS

TEAM LEBRON:

Coach: Dwane Casey, Raptors
LeBron James, Cavaliers
Kevin Durant, Warriors
Kyrie Irving, Celtics
Anthony Davis, Pelicans
LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs
Bradley Beal, Wizards
Goran Dragic, Heat
Andre Drummond, Pistons
Paul George, Thunder
Victor Oladipo, Pacers
Russell Westbrook, Thunder
Kemba Walker, Hornets

TEAM STEPHEN:

Coach: Mike D'Antoni, Rockets
Stephen Curry, Warriors
James Harden, Rockets
Joel Embiid, 76ers
DeMar DeRozan, Raptors
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
Jimmy Butler, Timberwolves
Draymond Green, Warriors
Klay Thompson, Warriors
Al Horford, Celtics
Damian Lillard, Blazers
Kyle Lowry, Raptors
Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves

PODCAST: ALL-STAR WEEKEND PREVIEW, WIZARDS AT THE BREAK 

Three things to watch...

New format

The NBA switched it up this season by doing away with the traditional matchup between the East and West. The teams were instead chosen by captains LeBron James and Stephen Curry, the two top vote-getters in All-Star fan voting. The idea was to breath new life into the All-Star Game and hopefully make it more competitive. The league also installed a system where the winners each get $100,000, $75,000 more than the losing team. 

All pro sports leagues struggle drawing interest with their All-Star showcases. They are always trying to get ratings up and this is the latest ploy by the NBA. The new format is definitely intriguing, but whether it will have a major impact on the competition itself is hard to tell. We'll see how the fans respond.

RELATED: JOHN WALL GIVES UPDATE ON HIS REHAB

Reunion time

The teams picked by James and Curry will give fans some throwback combinations with former teammates back together again. Team LeBron is full of them. James will reunite with Kyrie Irving, who essentially forced his way out of Cleveland over the summer after the two combined to reach three straight NBA Finals and win one title.

We will also see Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook play together again. They of course teamed up to win a lot of games with the Oklahoma City Thunder before Durant signed with the Warriors. Westbrook will also be reunited with Victor Oladipo, who was traded from OKC to the Pacers over the summer.

RELATED: WIZARDS/BULLETS HISTORY ON ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

Beal's All-Star debut

Wizards fans will of course be focused on Bradley Beal, who is making his first All-Star appearance. He is Washington's lone representative, as John Wall is still recovering from left knee surgery.

Beal may not get many minutes on a stacked roster of guys who have been in the game before. If that happens, it's probably for the best. Beal is currently fifth in the NBA in total minutes played. He needs the rest if he can get it.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS