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Wizards training camp notebook: Wittman in no rush


Wizards training camp notebook: Wittman in no rush

On day three of training camp and with the first preseason game fast approaching, Wizards coach Randy Wittman gave his players their first real "extended minutes" of the week, scrimmage style. The Patriot Center scoreboard kept count, refs made calls and several hundred season ticket holders watched from the stands inside the Patriot Center as the "white" team downed the "blue" squad.

The meaningless result - 32 to 14, for those keeping score - had some notable moments, like Cartier Martin draining bomb after bomb and Jordan Crawford receiving extended minutes at point guard due to another playmaker besides John Wall watching the proceedings from the sideline.

One of the players potentially in line to replace the injured Wall. guard A.J. Price, turned in a solid if not at times impressive performance playing largely with those expected to start at Cleveland on opening night.

That's not to say he will be in the same scenario during practices on Friday or Saturday as overall no discernible lineup or rotation pattern was evident. The coach confirmed the observation.

For a team with several new pieces and two main cogs - Wall and Nene - out of action, trial and error is part of the plan.

Wittman, directing his first camp as Wizards head coach, was also quick to point out after practice that he's not rushing the game planning process simply because the semi-real game on Sunday at Charlotte is fast approaching. There is a big picture to ponder. Implementing the offensive plays sets and the defensive plays the team hopes will carry them throughout the season will come when the time is right.

"Sunday is too quick, five days (from camp opening)," Wittman said. "I'm not going to rush getting everything in where they can't get comfortable doing one thing and have 20 things in (the game plan) because we're playing a game. We're going to do it the right way with these guys, how much they can handle, how far how along we are in the next couple of weeks."

Along with Martin, who drained at least two 3-pointers and another long jumper during the 30 minutes of action, the winning side included Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza, Bradley Beal, Trevor Booker, Price, Earl Barron and Brian Cook.

Booker, known as an energy player, often served as one-man press, consistently slowing down the "blue" squad's attempts to push the ball or at times even to complete an inbounds pass.

With Jannero Pargo limited after he, according to Wittman, "got his ribs banged a little bit," Crawford often moved over to the lead guard role with Martell Webster and others playing alongside. As evidenced by the lopsided score, his side rarely found its way to offensive success. That led to the occasional frustration-fueled yelp, though the squad's limited production is not a reflection on Crawford's combo guard potential.

His reputation is that of a volume shooter, a reputation Crawford built on during Monday's media day on when in reference to the Wizards numerous injuries last season he said, "If you go in an arena with eight players, who else is gonna shoot?"

Yet Crawford has shown flashes of being a viable distributor. In fact, it may come as a surprise to some that he averaged 3.0 assists last season and nearly four a game following the trade with Atlanta during his rookie season.

The rising third-year guard's game has continued to evolve during the early stages of camp.

"He's made a concentrated effort to get to that next step so far, there is no question about it," Wittman said. "It's been a positive seeing what he's done. Now he just has to continue to grow. He's going to have nights of frustration. How he handles that, does he regress back or does he move forward... He's been a real positive this camp."

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

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.


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:


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.' 


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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.