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Wizards break down in 119-117 loss to Celtics: Five takeaways

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Wizards break down in 119-117 loss to Celtics: Five takeaways

The Wizards had a chance to officially turn the corner with Saturday's game against the Boston Celtics, but they faltered late in a game they controlled most of the way and lost to them for the third time this season and failed to get over .500.

John Wall (season-high 36 points, 13 assists, seven rebounds seven steals) led all scorers as all of Washington's starters reached double-figures. Marcin Gortat (18 points, 11 rebounds), Jared Dudley (15 points, seven rebounds), Garrett Temple (12 points), Kelly Oubre (10 points, six rebounds) and Gary Neal (10 points).

In two meetings in Boston in November, the Celtics blitzed them 118-98 and 111-78. On Saturday, the Wizards (19-20) blew out the Indiana Pacers 118-104 after they'd been embarrassed at home by them in November but came up short in this one after they tied the score at 117 on a pair of foul shots from Temple.

Isaiah Thomas, who made two foul shots with 21 seconds left, led the Celtics (22-19) with 32 points but Jae Crowder (22 points) had the game-winner on a layup on an inbounds play.

Wall was able to get up the court and have a layup but it trickled off the rim and Nene's putback dunk to force overtime was too late.

  • It's amazing how ball security makes everything better, or the lack of it causes the wheels to fall off. When the Wizards lost in Boston on Nov. 6, they had 24 turnovers that led to 24 points and were outrebounded by the smaller team 53-45. In a Nov. 27 loss, the Wizards had 22 turnovers that produced 17 points and were outrebounded again 58-46 (19 offensive). They only had nine through three quarters Saturday but opened the fourth with five which allowed Boston to get back in it.

  • At 3:31 of the first quarter, the Wizards went with Nene along with four guards -- Wall, Temple, Neal and Ramon Sessions. It produced as the Wizards extended the lead to 11. They're better off going smaller against the Celtics anyway because they force so many switches on bigs who can shoot from the arc. Not having Kris Humphries (knee) doesn't hurt against teams that go small like this. Not having Otto Porter (hip) hurts far more.

  • Bradley Beal didn't play because this was the second game of a back-to-back. He has played 23 and 22 minutes coming off the bench since returning from a stress reaction in his lower right leg and this has been the plan all along. Nothing is wrong with his leg but given that he has had the same injury four consecutive seasons they're taking every precaution. 

  •  Without Beal, Wall played a season-high 44 minutes. Going into the All-Star break, this is where the Wizards have to be careful so he doesn't develop any other ailments that could hinder their best player. Expect him to get a lot of practice time off while they deal with even more injuries to other players as they only had 10 active. Drew Gooden (left calf) had to sit this one out, too.

  • If there's a better coach at drawing up lays after timeouts than Brad Stevens, who is it? He's a master at it. Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley got clean looks during crucial plays in the fourth quarter to give the Celtics breathing room. With the score 111-110, the Celtics were able to get Bradley opne for a three that looked like the dagger. After the Wizards tied it, the layup by Crowder came on an ATO as well, the ball lobbed over the top of Oubre who was fronting the post. The were expecting the play to go through Thomas. Crowder was the last option which is why there wasn't help on the backside for Oubre.

MORE WIZARDS: Morning tip: When Nene isn't hurt, he's special

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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.