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Takeaways from Wizards' loss to Cavs to snap home winning streak

Takeaways from Wizards' loss to Cavs to snap home winning streak

The Wizards' home streak is over at Verizon Center following Monday’s 140-135 overtime loss to the East’s No. 1 team, but they at least proved that they belonged in their most exciting game of the season.

Markieff Morris' putback of John Wall's layup almost was the game-winning shot with 12.2 seconds left as LeBron James missed a layup — and took four steps to get there — that could've put his team back ahead. But after Wall made two free throws, James banked in an improbable three-pointer with three-tenths of a second left to force the extra session.

It was the Wizards' second announced sellout of the season as they failed to avenge a 105-94 loss here to the Cavaliers on Nov. 11 when they were a very different team.

Bradley Beal, who was out injured for that game, exploded (41 points) but made the clutch play of the game at 4:13 in overtime when he drew James' sixth foul to send him to the bench for good. But Kyrie Irving's five-point outburst — after a 7-0 run post-James — created the separation needed.

Otto Porter (25 points), John Wall (22 points, 12 assists), Markieff Morris (15 points) and Marcin Gortat (16 points, eight rebounds) were the supporting cast, and Kelly Oubre (11 points, four steals) came off the bench to wreak havoc on both ends. 

Oubre drained a three for a 127-122 lead in overtime. 

Neither team could pull away as each shot better than 50 percent from the field for the first three quarters. But after a series of threes from James (32 points, 17 rebounds, seven assists) had the Cavaliers ahead late in the fourth, it was threes from Beal and then Porter to put them up 110-107 with three minutes left.

The Cavs responded with threes from Kyle Korver (13 points) and Kevin Love (39 points, 12 rebounds) to go ahead 116-112 the last 1:32. Then Beal tied the score at 116 with 43.8 seconds left after Gortat blocked James at the rim.

Love had a 15-point outburst in the third to get Cleveland (35-15) back on top 86-82 entering the fourth. James set up everyone else and Tristan Thompson (22 points, 12 rebounds) cleaned up in the paint, but Irving (23 points) was relatively speaking held in check by Wall until the extra period when he put Cleveland up for good with two foul shots, 138-135 with 10.2 seconds left.

--Unlike in the first meeting, when Wall had 23 points in the first half because there was no Beal to spread the floor, he lived in the paint. Even though his final numbers weren’t spectacular, the open shots were generated by his penetration to break down the defense.

--The second unit, with Beal and Morris starting the fourth, got the Wizards ahead. Beal had mismatches when defended by Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye attempting to contain him off the dribble. Oubre came on defense as he jumped a passing lane to Korver and got on the end of a fast break to finish a dunk thanks to a steal and assist from Tomas Satoransky.   

--When the Wizards went to the small-ball lineup with Porter as the “stretch” option, they again had difficulty dealing with Love who’d post him up.  Love had a fade across the lane midway through the fourth, but Porter responded. Oubre, however, picked up his fourth foul at 6:15 getting caught on Love in the same spot for a three-point play.

--Morris picked up his second foul at 7:26 of the first quarter defending Love. Morris sparked the Wizards with his assist to Beal for an open three early in the third and his close out of Love on the three-point arc that led to him getting a charge.  But after shooting an airball three himself, Morris picked up his third at 7:35 of the third setting a screen. Morris was hit with his fifth with 9:36 left fighting off a screen. He fouled out in the OT, as did Oubre.

--The hard trap of the ball led to passes to Thompson, who was setting most of the screens, diving to the basket. He was 6 of 8 in the first half which actually was a good thing for the Wizards. That meant less three-point bombs and shots for Irving and James.

-- Porter is undersized when defending James, but he was perfect on the offensive end making 5 of 5 shots, including all three looks from three-point range, and created for others. James closed him out hard in the corner and Porter attack dribbled, drew the help defenders and delivered a bounce pass to Morris for a layup for a 53-48 lead. On the next possession, Wall had a bad pass turnover to James but Porter got back and in front of the full-speed rush and stripped the ball off of his leg to get possession back. 

[RELATED: VIDEO: LeBron throws down huge dunk, Morris loses shoe]

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What are Bradley Beal's chances of earning All-NBA?

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What are Bradley Beal's chances of earning All-NBA?

Bradley Beal has been indispensable for the Wizards this season with John Wall having missed 33 of their 70 games, or nearly half of their schedule so far. Beal's numbers are up in several categories from last season and he earned his first All-Star selection as a result.

Becoming an NBA All-Star is very difficult. Usually, about six guards per conference are picked each year. Being All-NBA is even more exclusive, as only six guards are selected from the entire league.

Wall has done it before and Beal may be in position to accomplish the feat himself this season. As of now, Beal could be considered on the bubble for third-team All-NBA.


It is an extremely competitive race and there are several locks to earn the honors. At this point, guys like James Harden and Russell Westbrook should get in easily. But after that, the next four spots are hard to sort out.

Based on his numbers, Damian Lillard of the Blazers should be a shoe-in. He is the best player on the third-place team in the Western Conference and is second among all NBA guards in points per game (26.6). He is also averaging 6.5 assists and 4.4 rebounds. He has already been All-NBA twice in his career and should get his third nod after this season.

DeMar DeRozan of the Raptors is probably the next-most likely to get in. He has led the top team in the Eastern Conference, was an All-Star starter in February and got his first All-NBA selection last year.

After those is where it gets interesting. The reason why is injuries. Stephen Curry in any other year would be a guarantee for All-NBA, but as of now he has played just 50 games. Consider that the NBA requires a player to appear in 58 games or more, or 70 percent of his team's games, to qualify for statistical leaderboards. 


Curry has returned to practice, but due to health and possibly rest down the stretch of the season, there is a chance he doesn't hit the 58-game threshold. That may present an interesting question for the voters.

Kyrie Irving of the Celtics is also hurt. He has played in 60 games with 11 left on Boston's schedule. The same goes for Jimmy Butler of the Timberwolves. He is rehabbing a torn meniscus and currently has only played 56 games. 

Chris Paul of the Rockets has appeared in 53 games due to injuries. Though his numbers could put him in the All-NBA conversation, Devin Booker of the Suns has played in just 54 games.

If injuries do preclude Curry in particular from getting in, then the door could be open the door for Beal. He would then have to beat out guys like Victor Oladipo of the Pacers, Irving, Butler and others.

Setting aside the most likely three to get All-NBA - Harden, Westbrook and Lillard - and Curry, let's take a look at how Beal stacks up statistically to the rest of the pack. 

Bradley Beal - 23.3 ppg, 4.7 apg, 4.5 rpg, 1.2 spg, 46.3 FG%, 37.4 3PT%

DeMar DeRozan - 23.7 ppg, 5.1 apg, 4.0 rpg, 1.1 spg, 46.1 FG%, 32.4 3PT%

Victor Oladipo - 23.3 ppg, 4.2 apg, 5.2 rpg, 2.3 spg, 47.1 FG%, 36.6 3PT%

Kyrie Irving - 24.4 ppg, 5.1 apg, 3.8 rpg, 1.8 spg, 49.1 FG%, 40.8 3PT%

Jimmy Butler - 22.2 ppg, 5.0 apg, 5.4 rpg, 1.9 spg, 47.3 FG%, 35.6 3PT%

Devin Booker - 24.9 ppg, 4.7 apg, 4.5 rpg, 0.9 spg, 43.2 FG%, 38.3 3PT%

Chris Paul - 18.8 ppg, 7.9 apg, 5.6 rpg, 1.7 spg, 45.9 FG%, 38.5 3PT%


As you see, not a whole lot is separating those guys. It may come down to team performance and other factors.

Working in Beal's favor is that he's been the most durable of the bunch. He has played in every one of the Wizards' games this season.

Beal has also helped keep his team in contention despite Wall's absence. The Wizards are on pace for 47 wins, not far off their 49 victories last year, and Beal has been the biggest reason.

But Irving's case is helped similarly by all the injuries in Boston, including to Gordan Hayward. He has been the best player on the second-best team in the Eastern Conference.

Oladipo has led the Pacers to an impressive season despite not having another All-Star in the lineup. DeRozan, Beal, Irving and Butler have better supporting casts.


Say injuries do work against Curry, Paul, Irving and Booker. And assume DeRozan is safely in as the fourth guy behind Harden, Westbrook and Lillard. That could mean Beal gets in alongside Oladipo.

If Curry, Paul or Irving get in despite missing double-digit games, that would probably bump Beal out of the mix. Oladipo has slightly better numbers and has drawn lots of acclaim for being the best player on a surprise Pacers team and he's no guarantee himself.

Beal has 12 games left to prove his case and clearly a lot of factors are in play, but the idea of him making All-NBA for the first time is not out of the question.

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Wizards at Spurs: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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Wizards at Spurs: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay, Tony Parker and the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night.

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


Where: AT&T Center
Tip-off: 9:30 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 8:30 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Wizards are trending up

The Wizards have had some steep ups and downs in recent weeks. They lost three in a row from Feb. 28 through March 4 and that turned into five losses in seven games, their worst stretch since John Wall injured his left knee. But now, with two straight wins, the Wizards appear to be in good shape. They have won four of their last six games and all of those wins came against teams currently holding playoff spots.

The Wizards enter Wednesday night sitting fifth in the Eastern Conference. They have been off the past three days and during that break the Pacers won a game and pushed ahead into fourth. The Pacers play the Pelicans on Wednesday, while the third-place Cavs battle the Raptors and the sixth-place Sixers see the Grizzlies.


Tough place to play

The Wizards head to Texas hoping to win in San Antonio for the first time since 1999. Yes, you read that right: 1999. Like, back when Limp Bizkit was a thing. It has been 19 years and 17 straight losses at the Spurs for the Wizards.

Washington has had trouble with the Spurs in general in the past two decades, as have most teams. The Spurs have won 20 of their last 23 matchups overall and won 17 straight from 2006 through 2015. The Spurs under head coach Gregg Popovich have been among the most consistent winners in all of sports and the Wizards have had trouble cracking the code.


Spurs are still getting it done

The Spurs are currently sixth in the Western Conference despite having a slightly better record than the Wizards. They have gotten this far despite their best player Kawhi Leonard missing all but nine games this season. It is a remarkable feat and one that could very well win Popovich another Coach of the Year award.

In Leonard's absence, many have stepped up. LaMarcus Aldridge has put in an All-Star season with averages of 22.7 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. Rudy Gay has enjoyed a nice bounceback season with 11.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. And Pau Gasol is still making an impact with 10.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.

Really, though, it's all about their defense. The Spurs boast the lowest opponents points per game average (99.0) and the third-best defensive rating (104.1).


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