Last season in an instant, Brian Cook went from playing for the playoffcontending Los Angeles Clippers to the lottery-bound Washington Wizards. That didnot exactly make the nine-year veteran a happy camper when he arrived in town,going from playing for something to simply playing for pride. As it turns out, the coastal switch wasn't so bad. Now, Cook is back formore, agreeing to a non-guaranteed contract with the Wizards. The formerUniversity of Illinois star becomes the 18th player on Washington's trainingcamp roster, the Washington Post reported.The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 3.1 points in 16 games for the Wizards lastseason after being acquired as part of the trading deadline maneuvers that alsoadded Nene to the roster while subtracting Nick Young and JaVale McGee. Thoughstill capable as a "stretch four" Cook's steady presence combined with the otherveterans helpedturn the locker room and on-court culture from clowning tocompeting. The Wizards closed the 2011-12 with a flourish, winning their finalsix games."I dont think well ever forget it," Cook said following thefinal weeks of the season. "We had a lot of guys that came in, 10-day guysthat came in and we all knew our strengths and weaknesses, and we just tried toplay hard and play the right way. Thats by sharing the ball and being a greatteam."The team appears better heading into the 2012-13 campaign, having addedcenter Emeka Okafor, forward Trevor Ariza and first-round pick Bradley Bealamong others to what remains a largely youthful squad. Should the Wizards successfullymake a playoff push and Cook be on the roster, it would be the formerUniversity of Illinois star's eighth postseason appearance."You always want to play in the playoffs. You always want to play forsomething," Cook said after the season, describing his reaction to thedeal that brought him to one of the worst teams in the league. "Like Isaid, that did come through my mind. Thats what I was mad about at firstbecause I knew the team I was on was going to go to the playoffs. But I had agreat month and a half here. These guys, theyre all really good guys. Theyreall competitors. They all competed, and hopefully Ill see them again sometimesoon."How long Cook will see the really good guys is another question. The Wizardsseemingly have only one roster spot available - and that's assuming the teamenters the season with a full 15-man roster. Cook joins other non-rosterinvitees -- center Earl Barron, forward Shavlik Randolph and guard Steven Gray --as part of the Wizards training camp roster. Washington opens camp early nextmonth.One could argue that even though the Wizards upgraded their outside shootingwith the addition of Beal, Martell Webster and by keeping Cartier Martin, theteam lacks a big man with range. Cook is a career 38 percent shooter frombeyond the arc, but that might not be enough to stick considering the frontcourtlogjam with nine players already in the mix for playing time.Then again, who would have guessed Cook's time in DC last season would be sowinning or that he would have enjoyed it so. Certainly at the time of the deal,not Cook himself.
John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and the Washington Wizards battle Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night in Game 4 of the 2018 NBA Playoffs.
Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:
GAME 4: TORONTO RAPTORS AT WASHINGTON WIZARDS
Series: Raptors lead 2-1
Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 6 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 5 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM
Time to get even
After a momentous Game 3 win, the Wizards have breathed some life back into their season. On Sunday, they can make this a brand new series.
With a win in Game 4 for the Wizards, they would tie the series and send it back to Toronto ensuring another home game in Washington. A loss would put them down 3-1, a deficit that has historically been hard to overcome.
Only 11 teams have accomplished the feat, most notably the Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals. The Warriors did the same that year in the conference finals. It has only been done three times since 2006.
How will Raptors respond?
Game 3 took on a much different tone and style than the previous two and it played into the Wizards' hands. It was much more physical and Washington did a good job of instigating contact and using it to their advanage. After the game, several players highlighted Markieff Morris shoving OG Anunoby and Serge Ibaka as a turning point.
Just because it worked in Game 3 doesn't mean it will carry over successfully in Game 4. Not only could the Raptors respond with their own dose of brutality, but the referees may try to nip anything of the sort in the bud early on.
It would not be surprising if Game 4 was officiated very tightly and if a message was sent in the first quarter to the players. After seeing how well it worked in Game 3, the Wizards will likely try to test the limits.
The Raptors will also try to adjust their defense following Bradley Beal's 28-point outburst in Game 3. He wasn't much of a factor in the first two games of the series, but broke out in Game 3 to lead the Wizards to a win.
The Wizards did a good job of getting Beal involved early. He was found for open looks from three in the first half and had two three-pointers in each of the first two quarters. Beal also took it upon himself to attack the rim and force the issue.
The Raptors held Beal back in the first two games by being rough with him and in Game 2 they got him in foul trouble. Surely he will be a big emphasis of their gameplan on Sunday.
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The Wizards returned to Washington, D.C. on Friday down 0-2 to the Raptors in their best-of-seven 2018 NBA Playoffs first-round series.
That's the phrase that has defined the Wizards throughout much of the season They are at their best when John Wall is making plays and feeding his teammates.
On Friday night, the Wizards beat the Raptors 122-103 to force at least a Game 5. Wall finished with 28 points and 14 assists.
Bradley Beal finally broke out of his slump for 28 points and Marcin Gortat, Mike Scott and Kelly Oubre all chipped in with at least 10 points.
But the stat sheet wasn't the only place where everybody eats.
Here's Marcin Gortat from Game 3.
But if pantomiming isn't your thing, here is Bradley Beal actually eating popcorn during Game 3.
This is how Bradley Beal felt about the Raptors tonight 🍿 pic.twitter.com/W2sYuNVVmt— Aaron Dodson (@aardodson) April 21, 2018
So what did we learn in Game 3? Well, for starters: "Everybody Eats" is not just a motto, it is a way of life.
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