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Wizards turn aggressive start into win over Rockets


Wizards turn aggressive start into win over Rockets

Updated 9:10 AM ETLAS VEGAS Recapping the (mostly) highs and (charity strip shooting) low of the Wizards 76-70- win over the Houston Rockets in the Las Vegas Summer League Saturday night.Jump-startAfter a lackluster opening against Atlanta on Friday, the Wizards played a thoroughly energetic first half against Houston, resulting in a 48-31 halftime lead. Tone setting came via early aggressive offensive action from Chris Singleton and Bradley Beal, who again led the Wizards in scoring with 14 points. Before the first half ended, all the main options had their moments. We had a lot more energy today. Energy level was good, Wizards summer league head coach Sam Cassell said. Our main guys forced the tempo, rebounded the ball well today, passed the ball a little better."Shelvin Mack scored all of his 11 points in the first half, Jan Vesely again found success with his perimeter shot and Tomas Satoransky threw down one of two monster dunks while putting together a substantially better performance compared to game one. The lead ballooned to 25 points in the fourth quarter and then tightened after Cassell pulled his primary options.Overall, I was impressed, Cassell said. I got a chance to give a lot of guys playing time. It got a little close down the stretch, but I was proud of the guys today.All-around BealLeading scorer aspect aside, the poised rookie demonstrated the breadth of his game including as rebounder, passer and thinker.Today, myself, I just let the game come to me, said Beal, who had four assists. They were helping a lot on my drives, so I just found the open guy and started kicking the ball. I really wasnt worrying about scoring too much, because everybody can score on this team, so I was really just trying to get my teammates the ball.The third quarter, which was also hisfinal quarter,proved a microcosm of his night. With his parents watching court side, Beal scored nine points in that span, including a baseline dunk and putback off one of his three offensive rebounds. He also doled out a pretty no-look feed to Garett Siler for a dunk and throughout showed a comfort level whenever tasked with running the offense. It always is because either I can score for myself or somebody else is open, they can knock down the shots, Beal said of being in playmaking mode. Its always fun to be in that position, to be able to create for yourself and to be able to create for your teammates as well."Beal split his two 3-point attempts and is 2 of 5 through two games. The one box score downer, a 5 for 10 performance at the free throw line, which left the 19-year-old shaking his head during the postgame media session. Of course, after sinking 9 of 10 against the Hawks, Beal has reached the charity stripe a robust 20 times in two games.Hes getting 10 free throws a night, Cassell noted. If he continues that, Im pretty sure our whole staff will be happy with that.Mack attackMacks point-guarding day against the Rockets started along the same largely ineffective path he took versus the Hawks before his scoring touch emerged. What got him started? With Beal acting as the distributor, Mack took on the role of finisher, which ignited an assertive streakin all facets.You have to take what the defense gives you," said the rising second-year guard. "They stop me, pass the ball. If they dont stop me, keep going until someone stops the ball. Just continue to play on and off the ball and be aggressive.(Shelvins) getting a feel for itGetting a feel for how to be a point guard, said Cassell, the former NBA floor general. It was well played basketball by Shelvin Mack today. He can make shots, he can play off the ball, he can play on the ball. Everything went well today.Frontcourt...Singleton scored 10 points and often served as the team's loudest on-court voice, but according to Cassell, hisbest work came on the defensive end against the Rockets array of first-round forwards. "Hes doing a hell of a job defensively, being in the right position off the ball. Hes our best help side defender right now," Cassell said.Like Beal, Singleton's struggled at the foul line (4 of 9). The Wizards shot 53.3 percent (16 of 30).After draining three perimeter shots against the Hawks, Vesely made both of outside attempts, 4 of 6 overall and finished with eight points. One of the misses, another dunk, his third of the summer league. And since you were wondering, only three personal fouls after picking up 10 on Friday.The duo combined for seven rebounds, but collectively the Wizards hammered the Rockets on the glass, finishing with a 42-31 advantage.EtcSatoransky scored 11 points of the bench with the highlights coming on a dribble-drive dunk in the open court and jamming home a perfectly thrown alley-oop pass from Steven GrayThe Wizards onlookers included Jordan Crawford, Trevor Booker, Cartier Martin and Emeka OkaforRockets rookie guard Jeremy Lamb, the 12th overall pick, led all scored with 26 pointsReserves Jeff Brooks (nine rebounds), Garrett Siler and Gray each scored six points. Washington plays its third game in three days Sunday against the NBA Developmental League Al-Stars.

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What are Bradley Beal's chances of earning All-NBA?

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What are Bradley Beal's chances of earning All-NBA?

Bradley Beal has been indispensable for the Wizards this season with John Wall having missed 33 of their 70 games, or nearly half of their schedule so far. Beal's numbers are up in several categories from last season and he earned his first All-Star selection as a result.

Becoming an NBA All-Star is very difficult. Usually, about six guards per conference are picked each year. Being All-NBA is even more exclusive, as only six guards are selected from the entire league.

Wall has done it before and Beal may be in position to accomplish the feat himself this season. As of now, Beal could be considered on the bubble for third-team All-NBA.


It is an extremely competitive race and there are several locks to earn the honors. At this point, guys like James Harden and Russell Westbrook should get in easily. But after that, the next four spots are hard to sort out.

Based on his numbers, Damian Lillard of the Blazers should be a shoe-in. He is the best player on the third-place team in the Western Conference and is second among all NBA guards in points per game (26.6). He is also averaging 6.5 assists and 4.4 rebounds. He has already been All-NBA twice in his career and should get his third nod after this season.

DeMar DeRozan of the Raptors is probably the next-most likely to get in. He has led the top team in the Eastern Conference, was an All-Star starter in February and got his first All-NBA selection last year.

After those is where it gets interesting. The reason why is injuries. Stephen Curry in any other year would be a guarantee for All-NBA, but as of now he has played just 50 games. Consider that the NBA requires a player to appear in 58 games or more, or 70 percent of his team's games, to qualify for statistical leaderboards. 


Curry has returned to practice, but due to health and possibly rest down the stretch of the season, there is a chance he doesn't hit the 58-game threshold. That may present an interesting question for the voters.

Kyrie Irving of the Celtics is also hurt. He has played in 60 games with 11 left on Boston's schedule. The same goes for Jimmy Butler of the Timberwolves. He is rehabbing a torn meniscus and currently has only played 56 games. 

Chris Paul of the Rockets has appeared in 53 games due to injuries. Though his numbers could put him in the All-NBA conversation, Devin Booker of the Suns has played in just 54 games.

If injuries do preclude Curry in particular from getting in, then the door could be open the door for Beal. He would then have to beat out guys like Victor Oladipo of the Pacers, Irving, Butler and others.

Setting aside the most likely three to get All-NBA - Harden, Westbrook and Lillard - and Curry, let's take a look at how Beal stacks up statistically to the rest of the pack. 

Bradley Beal - 23.3 ppg, 4.7 apg, 4.5 rpg, 1.2 spg, 46.3 FG%, 37.4 3PT%

DeMar DeRozan - 23.7 ppg, 5.1 apg, 4.0 rpg, 1.1 spg, 46.1 FG%, 32.4 3PT%

Victor Oladipo - 23.3 ppg, 4.2 apg, 5.2 rpg, 2.3 spg, 47.1 FG%, 36.6 3PT%

Kyrie Irving - 24.4 ppg, 5.1 apg, 3.8 rpg, 1.8 spg, 49.1 FG%, 40.8 3PT%

Jimmy Butler - 22.2 ppg, 5.0 apg, 5.4 rpg, 1.9 spg, 47.3 FG%, 35.6 3PT%

Devin Booker - 24.9 ppg, 4.7 apg, 4.5 rpg, 0.9 spg, 43.2 FG%, 38.3 3PT%

Chris Paul - 18.8 ppg, 7.9 apg, 5.6 rpg, 1.7 spg, 45.9 FG%, 38.5 3PT%


As you see, not a whole lot is separating those guys. It may come down to team performance and other factors.

Working in Beal's favor is that he's been the most durable of the bunch. He has played in every one of the Wizards' games this season.

Beal has also helped keep his team in contention despite Wall's absence. The Wizards are on pace for 47 wins, not far off their 49 victories last year, and Beal has been the biggest reason.

But Irving's case is helped similarly by all the injuries in Boston, including to Gordan Hayward. He has been the best player on the second-best team in the Eastern Conference.

Oladipo has led the Pacers to an impressive season despite not having another All-Star in the lineup. DeRozan, Beal, Irving and Butler have better supporting casts.


Say injuries do work against Curry, Paul, Irving and Booker. And assume DeRozan is safely in as the fourth guy behind Harden, Westbrook and Lillard. That could mean Beal gets in alongside Oladipo.

If Curry, Paul or Irving get in despite missing double-digit games, that would probably bump Beal out of the mix. Oladipo has slightly better numbers and has drawn lots of acclaim for being the best player on a surprise Pacers team and he's no guarantee himself.

Beal has 12 games left to prove his case and clearly a lot of factors are in play, but the idea of him making All-NBA for the first time is not out of the question.

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Wizards at Spurs: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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Wizards at Spurs: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay, Tony Parker and the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:


Where: AT&T Center
Tip-off: 9:30 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 8:30 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Wizards are trending up

The Wizards have had some steep ups and downs in recent weeks. They lost three in a row from Feb. 28 through March 4 and that turned into five losses in seven games, their worst stretch since John Wall injured his left knee. But now, with two straight wins, the Wizards appear to be in good shape. They have won four of their last six games and all of those wins came against teams currently holding playoff spots.

The Wizards enter Wednesday night sitting fifth in the Eastern Conference. They have been off the past three days and during that break the Pacers won a game and pushed ahead into fourth. The Pacers play the Pelicans on Wednesday, while the third-place Cavs battle the Raptors and the sixth-place Sixers see the Grizzlies.


Tough place to play

The Wizards head to Texas hoping to win in San Antonio for the first time since 1999. Yes, you read that right: 1999. Like, back when Limp Bizkit was a thing. It has been 19 years and 17 straight losses at the Spurs for the Wizards.

Washington has had trouble with the Spurs in general in the past two decades, as have most teams. The Spurs have won 20 of their last 23 matchups overall and won 17 straight from 2006 through 2015. The Spurs under head coach Gregg Popovich have been among the most consistent winners in all of sports and the Wizards have had trouble cracking the code.


Spurs are still getting it done

The Spurs are currently sixth in the Western Conference despite having a slightly better record than the Wizards. They have gotten this far despite their best player Kawhi Leonard missing all but nine games this season. It is a remarkable feat and one that could very well win Popovich another Coach of the Year award.

In Leonard's absence, many have stepped up. LaMarcus Aldridge has put in an All-Star season with averages of 22.7 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. Rudy Gay has enjoyed a nice bounceback season with 11.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. And Pau Gasol is still making an impact with 10.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.

Really, though, it's all about their defense. The Spurs boast the lowest opponents points per game average (99.0) and the third-best defensive rating (104.1).


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