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Bradley Beal goes off, but Wizards fall to Suns in tough loss

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Bradley Beal goes off, but Wizards fall to Suns in tough loss

The Washington Wizards lost to the Phoenix Suns 122-116 on Wednesday night at Capital One Arena. Here is analysis of what went down...

Another tough loss: Despite the benefit of two consecutive off days while their opponent was coming off a road game the night before, the Wizards couldn't keep pace with a young Suns team that made a late push to win their fourth game in their last five. The Wizards have now lost three of four with two of those coming against teams unlikely to make the playoffs. 

The Suns would be included in that category, though their growing collection of young talent was on display Wednesday night. T.J. Warren was unstoppable with 40 points and Devin Booker had 22. The Wizards dropped to 4-3 on the season and can't get Markieff Morris back soon enough.

The Wizards blew out the Kings on Sunday and this one looked headed in that direction when Washington led 32-15 after the first quarter, but the Suns dropped 37 in the second, cut the lead to three at the end of the third and took the lead at 10:44 in the fourth. The Wizards at one point held a 22-point advantage. They have led by double digits in all three of their losses this season.

Panda went off: Bradley Beal had himself a game and it was clear early he was in for a big night. Beal erupted for 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting in the first quarter, including a perfect 2-for-2 from three. By the end of the third quarter he had 30 points and when it was over he had 40.

Beal again used the free throw line to rack up points, something we have seen more of from him this season. He started being more aggressive attacking the rim last year, but now he's even more confident drawing contact and the refs are rewarding him with foul calls. He got to the line 11 times and dropped in 10 of them. Beyond Beal, only two other Wizards players reached double figures: John Wall (21 points, six assists) and Mike Scott (12 points).

The Dundie goes to...: Just like he did in the previous two games, Scott made an instant and noticeable impact off the Wizards' bench. He got hot immediately in the first quarter with seven points in four minutes including a sweet stepback fadeaway. He also knocked down a three. Scott scored all of his 12 points in his first 11 minutes.

The Wizards bought low on Scott, but through seven games appear to be getting a version of him much closer to the guy who was a rotation mainstay in Atlanta a few years ago. He is looking to regain his form and so far, so good. The problem, though, is that his minutes are likely to dry up and quickly with Morris coming back. Head coach Scott Brooks will have to figure out what to do with him and Jason Smith and it may be a night-to-night thing based on matchups.

Booker is a bad dude: Booker is quickly developing into one of the league's best shooting guards. He held his own against Beal and the Wizards to help his team get the win. By now everyone knows he can shoot, but he can also throw down some nasty dunks.

Check this one he finished after driving by Wall:

Porter out: The Wizards were without two starters on Wednesday night, not just Morris who was serving out his one-game suspension from Friday night's fight against the Golden State Warriors. Otto Porter was also out due to a stomach virus. He was nowhere to be seen pregame or on the bench, meaning the Wizards are quarantining him to make sure whatever he has doesn't spread around the locker room. They obviously want to avoid that.

Up next: The Wizards are off Thursday before hosting LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. The game isn't on NBC Sports Washington, but we will have you covered with pregame shows starting at 6 p.m.


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John Wall said he's not listening to Drake's music during Wizards-Raptors playoff series

John Wall said he's not listening to Drake's music during Wizards-Raptors playoff series

The friendly feud between Wizards guard John Wall and Raptors superfan Drake nearly tilted to Washington over the weekend as the rap star apparently floated the idea of showing up for Game 3 in D.C. 

Drake, in fact, was going to bring with him a prop to show just how confident he was after his team went up up 2-0.

"I told him to be here for Game 3. He told me he was going to be here," Wall said. "He didn't show up. He told me we was getting swept and he said he had the broom for us."

Wall and Drake exchanged trash-talk throughout the first two games held up in Toronto as Drake sat courtside. Their back-and-forth was caught on camera and went viral.

Wall now has the upperhand with the Wizards having won two straight games as the series shifts back to Toronto for Game 5 on Wednesday.

"I wanted him to know that they wasn't going to sweep us," Wall said. "We did what we were supposed to do. We came home and took home court, won two games."

Wall continued to say that him and Drake "are just having fun." He has referred to Drake as a friend in the past and Drake is a fan of the University of Kentucky, where Wall starred during the 2009-10 season.

But that friendship is currently on hold. Wall, in fact, says isn't listening to any of Drake's songs during the series and that includes 'Nice For What,' Drake's latest single. The song is being played everywhere, but Wall is avoiding it. 

"I can't?" Wall said when told he can't get away from 'Nice For What.' "I always have my headphones on."

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How the Wizards have taken Raptors big man Serge Ibaka out of the series on offense

How the Wizards have taken Raptors big man Serge Ibaka out of the series on offense

The Wizards-Raptors first round playoff series has evolved to feature the emergence of several players who started off slowly including Bradley Beal, Marcin Gortat and Kelly Oubre, Jr. The opposite has happened for Toronto big man Serge Ibaka.

After Ibaka lit up the Wizards for 23 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks in Game 1, there has been a disappearance. His scoring has gone missing and it's a big reason why the Wizards have won two straight games and earned a 2-2 series split.

Head coach Scott Brooks knows Ibaka well from their days in Oklahoma City. He helped develop Ibaka and has since watched from afar as his game has changed to include a consistent outside game.

Brooks has on several occasions referred to Ibaka as one of the best three-point shooting big men in the league. The numbers back that up. Last season, he shot 39.1 percent from three on 4.0 attempts per game, excellent for a 6-foot-10 power forward.

This season that number dipped to 36 percent, but he hit 41 percent of his threes in his final 16 games of the regular season. That carried over into the playoffs when he went 3-for-4 in Game 1 as part of an 8-for-11 shooting night overall.

The Wizards made a point to take away those outside shots following their series-opening defeat. The way they are doing that is by crowding him when he gets the ball, even if it means him getting past the initial defender.

"You want to make sure you meet him on the catch. You want to take away his shot," Brooks said. "When he gets open shots, they are money. He's going to knock them down... We did a good job of meeting him on his catch and making him put the ball on the floor with his left hand. You can live with the results."

After his 23-point outburst in Game 1, Ibaka has scored just 20 points total in the last three games. He has gone 2-for-6 from three.

The Wizards are taking away his shot attempts in general. He took 11 shots in each of the first two games of this series, but just four in Game 3 and five in Game 4. In Game 3 he had three points and three turnovers and on Sunday he had seven points and four turnovers.

Here are two examples of the Wizards' defense on Ibaka. On this first play, Markieff Morris meets Ibaka as soon as he catches the ball and the result is a turnover:

On this next play, Morris follows Ibaka all the way to the rim and even though he goes up on a pump fake, Morris recovers to alter Ibaka's shot and force a miss:

The Wizards, however, did get away with one against Ibaka. He was left wide open for a three in the final minute, but the shot rimmed out:

As the first two plays demonstrate, Morris deserves a lot of credit for the Wizards' success against Ibaka. He has the size and mobility to keep up with him and is willing to use contact to his advantage.

"Just playing the tendencies," Morris said. "We're making them do things they are uncomfortable with and are getting better results."

Ibaka was fourth on the Raptors this season in points per game and third in shot attempts. He is their third option behind All-Star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. If the Wizards can continue to lock up Ibaka, it will be difficult for the Raptors to beat them.

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