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Wizards fall prey to killer Kobe, Lakers 108-104: Five takeaways

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Wizards fall prey to killer Kobe, Lakers 108-104: Five takeaways

Other than a fiery first quarter for Kobe Bryant, this was far from vintage. But in the fourth, the 20-year veteran turned back the clock as he buried a three-pointer and a pull-up jump shot with 31 seconds left to give the L.A. Lakers a lead they'd never lose again.

John Wall had a game-high 34 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds as he brought the Wizards from 19 down in what felt like a road game in front of the third sellout of 20,356 at Verizon Center.

Bryant had 31 for the Lakers (3-15), who were routed by the NBA's worst team, the Philadelphia 76ers, on Tuesday. Chants of "K-O-B-E" dominated as he shined late and only cheers for the Lakers could be heard. Byrant announced over the weekend that he's retiring after this season.

The Wizards (7-9) had 23 turnovers, including seven in the fourth, to soil their accomplishment Tuesday of upsetting the Cleveland Cavaliers on the road. Wall's errant pass to Beal with 31 seconds left sealed the outcome as they lost to one of the NBA's worst teams.

Marcin Gortat had 18 points and 10 rebounds but Otto Porter shot 2 of 8 and Beal 4 of 12.

  • Jared Dudley started for the third game in a row, but he wasn't a match for Julius Randle who feasted on the glass. Randle had 12 rebounds by halftime, five offense. By the second quarter, coach Randy Wittman went to Kris Humphries as he was more effective. He made his first three-pointer in four games. His seven points all came in the second quarter when he was a force inside getting extra chances, such as on Kelly Oubre's missed dunk on the final play for a putback. Wittman did the right thing by riding with Humphries who had nine points and four rebounds in 11 minutes.

  • Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. This game got away from the Wizards in the first quarter when they botched 14-9 lead. Wall had a bad pass out of bounds, lost the ball on the next play, then Beal had a lost ball turnover and Wall another one. All came in a 1:13 span and when it was over the Wizards were down 20-14. They had a total of seven turnovers in the first 12 minutes which is why they led by double-digits until making a run late in the second quarter to trim the deficit to 57-51. With the score tied at 87 late in the fourth, the Wizards traded turnovers with the Lakers twice that ended with Bryant's three at 5:56.

  • Gortat got rolling early again. He was not only connecting with Wall but beating Roy Hibbert down the floor to get in position for easy baskets. At one point he was 5 of 7, but the reason for the two misses weren't great defense. Gortat's tendency to fade away from contact resulted in making tough shots tougher. With his defender in the air he has to lean in, jump a count after his man leaves his feet and initiate the contact. Maybe Gortat's shot gets blocked anyway, but maybe he gets the whistle and two foul shots instead. His help defense on the perimeter forced D'Angelo Russell to turn it over when Washington made it's run. As well as he played for the third game in a row, he can be even better. 

  • Beal has had his looks but still couldn't get himself right with a favorable matchup against Jordan Clarkson. His shots aren't going down and he had five giveaways. Neither are the shots for Porter who had multiple open looks from three. Porter's fourth miss from deep was wide open and it rimmed out in the fourth. All four were uncontested.

  • Last year, the Wizards switched from Beal to Paul Pierce to put more size on Bryant to slow him down. He had 0 field goals in the second half after having 20 points in the first two quarters. Wittman went to Garrett Temple, who made him take launch contested shots and he made fallaway three for a 43-25 lead. Then Oubre, who has a 7-2 wingspan and even more athletic, did a solid job containing Bryant. Oubre hadn't played this much since Nov. 27 in a blowout loss in Boston. But late, Beal couldn't do anything to bother Bryant's shot. 

[RELATED: Antawn Jamison excited to join Wizards broadcasts]

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2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 5: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 5: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and the Washington Wizards battle Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night in Game 5 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 5: WASHINGTON WIZARDS AT TORONTO RAPTORS

Series: Series tied 2-2
Where: Air Canada Centre
Tip-off: 7:02 p.m. (earlier tipoff than usual)
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Pivotal game

The Wizards have done their part in winning both games at home to even up this series at 2-2. Now comes Game 5, which could very well determine who takes this series.

Winners of Game 5 in a seven-game series tied at 2-2 hold a 164-34 (.828) record all-time. That means teams that lose Game 5 come back to win the final two games and the series only 17.2 percent of the time.

The Wizards need to get this one and they know all too well why. Last year they were in this same position in their second round series against the Boston Celtics. They went down 0-2, won the next two games but then lost Game 5 and ultimately the series in seven games.

Road warriors

The Wizards will also have to do something they have yet to do in a while in Game 5 and that is win on the road. Though they have won eight straight home postseason games, they have lost their last six on the road. It goes back to that Celtics series when Washington lost all four games in Boston. The last time they won on the road in the playoffs was Game 6 last year against the Hawks.

The Raptors are particularly tough in Toronto. They were 34-7 this season at home, tied with the Houston Rockets for the best record in the NBA. 

The recent historical odds are also in Toronto's favor. Since 2003, the home team has won each of the first four games in a seven-game series 35 times. In those series, the home team has held a Game 5 record of 22-13 and a series record of 26-9. If the Raptors get Game 5, history will be on their side to go on to win the series.

Can Otto get going?

Games 3 and 4 in Washington saw All-Star Bradley Beal break out to score 28 and 31 points. Will we see the same from Otto Porter before this series is over?

Game 4 seemed to suggest that is possible. After scoring only one point in the first half, Porter erupted for 10 points in the third quarter alone. Though he only scored 12 points in the game overall, it was the most aggressive we have seen him all series.

Porter is averaging just 10.3 points per game through four playoff games. He is shooting 50 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from three, and as long as the Wizards are winning he won't complain, but Porter can do much more than that on offense. If he starts scoring more, the Wizards will be tough to stop.

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MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

WALL HAS REACHED PEAK FORM AMAZINGLY QUICK

WALL IS BOYCOTTING DRAKE'S MUSIC DURING SERIES

OUBRE IS HELPING THE WIZARDS WIN IN MANY WAYS

For more on the Wizards-Raptors series, check out or latest Wizards Tipoff podcast:

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: How they can keep it rolling in Game 5

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards Tipoff podcast: How they can keep it rolling in Game 5

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes, Travis Thomas and Julie Donaldson reset the series and looked ahead to Game 5.

They were joined by TSN Sports anchor Kayla Grey to find out the Toronto perspective. The Wizards have all the momentum in this series, now they just have to keep it going.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!