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Takeaways from Wizards' win over Pacers behind Morris' season-high

Takeaways from Wizards' win over Pacers behind Morris' season-high

A new home winning streak is underway, after the Wizards had to hold off repeated attempts by the Indiana Pacers to win 112-107 on Friday night at Verizon Center in front of 19,503 fans.

John Wall produced his 33rd double-double (26 points, 14 assists) and Bradley Beal (20 points, four assists) struggled to get free of Paul George to generate offense. But Markieff Morris (season-high 26 points, 10 rebounds, three assists)  exploited his advantage against Lavoy Allen to great success and Marcin Gortat (14 points, 16 rebounds) had his 31st double-double.

Paul George (31 points) led all scorers and was at times unstoppable for Indiana (29-24) which had won seven of eight games coming into Friday. Jeff Teague (13 points, nine assists) and Kevin Seraphin (16 points) contributed with three other players for Indiana in double figures at 10 points (Allen, Myles Turner, Rodney Stuckey).

The Wizards lost 140-135 in overtime on Monday to the Cleveland Cavaliers – they also had ended the Pacers’ seven-game win streak – to snap their 17 consecutive home wins at Verizon.

The Wizards (32-21) are now ahead 2-1 in the season series with Indiana with one more game remaining between them before the All-Star break on Feb. 16.

Indiana cut the deficit to 105-102 in the final minute but it was Wall driving past George, drawing the help, and finding Morris for a three-pointer for a six-point edge with 50.6 seconds left to seal it.

--Teague has hurt the Wizards by getting inside the defense and breaking them down in the paint. He had success doing that early with 11 points and five assists in the first half. He went to the free-throw line four times – more than Wall and Beal combined. He was held in check the rest of the way mostly because the Wizards opted to put size on him during key stretches with the length of Kelly Oubre and Tomas Satoransky. Teague scored just two points in the second half 

-- Pacers coach Nate McMillan went with a big lineup with his second unit, playing Seraphin, a former Wizard, and center while Al Jefferson (six points) was at power forward. That’s when they made their move and pounded the Wizards’ second unit by isolating and using their size to their advantage and getting to their preferred spots to make shots. The Wizards failed to play with pace and move the ball frequently enough to force the plodding bigs to rotate and recover. They erased a seven-point deficit in the first quarter to take a 39-38 lead on Stuckey’s jumper. The Wizards re-inserted four starters and Indiana still continued its run to push the lead to 47-38.

--George defending Beal was a foregone conclusion. In the Pacers’ victory in their first meeting, Beal started 4-for-6 and appeared headed for a big night. He didn’t score in the second and third quarters and shot 3-for-13 after the first 12 minutes. George’s 6-7 frame, reach and ability to recover from screens and trail to take away three-point looks is a valuable asset for Indiana. Beal was 1-for-4 in the first half for seven points but did have three assists. The Wizards had to make them pay for using their best defender, which meant Porter and Morris knocking down open looks or beating 1-on-1 coverage.

--The help was so heavy towards Beal, the Wizards sometimes ran down the shot clock too far trying to get him the ball. That’s how they lost the lead in the third on Lavoy Allen’s shot to put Indiana head 72-70 at 5:39. After a timeout, the Wizards used Beal as a decoy to get Morris an open three and layups for Gortat when he was being fronted in the post (and no weakside help). They went into the fourth up 86-81 as a result.

-- The coverage by Indiana created lanes for that Gortat to get on the boards for tip-ins and tap outs. He converted a miss on a drive by Morris for a 103-98 lead but had an important contest of Teague at the rim in the final minute that allowed the Wizards to get the ball and get out to a three-possession lead with 37 seconds left.

--Porter was in foul trouble, picking up his fifth with 7:42 left in the game. Satoransky, not Oubre, replaced him. Satoransky’s stat line was modest (four points in 13 minutes) but it was his ball pressure and length that was effective. He contested a pull-up jumper from Monta Ellis (eight points) that was off to the right and forced Stuckey into a traveling violation.

--Ian Mahinmi played for the second game in a row but wasn’t as effective in spot duty in the first half. He had a layup on a nifty interior pass from Wall but mishandled it for a turnover. He did body up Jefferson to force a miss at the rim. He’ll be more of an asset defensively before he can provide much lift in terms of bench points. Plus he has to get used to the quick-hit passes from Wall when he draws the defense. Mahinmi did have a rotation in the fourth quarter that produced a turnover. His impact will be modest and sometimes understated.

--Trey Burke (seven points, five assists) was a spark early but fell into overdribbling which is why the second unit had difficulty keeping leads or closing the gap. He was 3-for-6 until the fourth quarter when he missed all three attempts. 

--The Pacers shot 4-for-21 from three-point range, or 19%, a focus of the Wizards' defense since they allowed the Cavs to get loose on the perimeter. Morris ran out to contest a three by George late in the fourth and forced a miss. George was 2-for-6 from deep and C.J. Miles (three points) 1-for-5. They combined to shoot 15-for-17 from long range in a blowout of the Wizards here last season.

[RELATED: VIDEO: Markieff Morris' dunk goes off top of backboard and in]

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

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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.

RELATED: BEAL BOUNCED EARLY IN THREE-POINT CONTEST

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:

RELATED: BEST WIZARDS/BULLETS MOMENTS ON ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

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.' 

RELATED: LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT

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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.