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Bradley Beal has best game of career as Wizards bounce back vs. Blazers

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Bradley Beal has best game of career as Wizards bounce back vs. Blazers

The Washington Wizards beat the Portland Trail Blazers 106-92 on Tuesday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Beal took over: The last two games we saw Bradley Beal begin the game with goggles, get off to a poor shooting start and then ditch them. On Tuesday, he went away with the protective eyewear altogether and there's a good chance we will never see them again.

Beal went off for a career-high 51 points in a performance of thorough dominance one night after one of the worst games in franchise history. In a game rife with star guards, Beal stood above all and there was nothing the Blazers could do to slow him down. 

Beal caught fire early with 12 points in his first 10 minutes. Everything was going in. He hit his threes (5-for-12) and reclaimed his ability to finish around the rim. This is an example of shots he had been missing in his previous two games:

In the Wizards' first two wins since Wall went down with his latest injury, Beal was held to 18 points combined. It was their bench and other members of the starting lineup who led them to victories. This time Beal was the spark. Opponents had found success overloading on Beal in previous games, but against the Blazers he made the adjustment and broke through against a very good defensive team.

Beal had 19 points in the first half and amazingly got better in the second. He had 19 points in the third quarter alone, shooting 8-for-11 in the frame. Beal shot 21-for-37 for the game, the most field goal attempts for a Wizards player in one game since Gilbert Arenas in 2006.

Beal's 51 points were the most ever for an opponent at the Moda Center and the most ever on the road against the Blazers. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar held the previous record with 49 points in 1972.

Considering Beal had 50 points combined in his previous four games, this was quite the turn of events. Just when it seemed fair to question how he was performing without John Wall, Beal put an end to that theory with emphasis.

Bench lifted them again: The Wizards led by two points after the first quarter and built a 14-point by halftime in large part due to their bench. Kelly Oubre, Jr. (14 points, five steals) let a fuse with an array of plays on offense. He hit a three, drove right and finished with his left hand and hit a midrange jumper off a screen. He also had a steal on Pat Connaughton and finished on the other end on a give-and-go by Tomas Satoransky.

Mike Scott had one of his better games with 10 points and five rebounds on 5-for-5 shooting. He hit two midrange jumpers in the first quarter and continued to heat up in the second. Oubre and Scott are the two best offensive players the Wizards have on their bench and both helped change this game with their scoring. Scott has found himself in and out of the Wizards' rotation in recent weeks and it remains a mystery why.

The Wizards had 41 bench points compared to 13 for the Blazers. 

McCollum kept quiet: Beal also helped contribute to an important defensive effort. The Blazers are a below average offensive team heavily reliant on Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Stop either of those two and you are in business.

Lillard got his with 30 points, nine assists and eight rebounds. But McCollum was limited to 14 points on 6-for-16 (37.5%) shooting. Beal deserves some credit for that, too.

Up next: The Wizards get a much-needed off day before moving on to Phoenix to play the Suns on Thursday night. Tipoff is at 9 p.m.


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Wizards ride huge second half to break through, beat Pistons

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Wizards ride huge second half to break through, beat Pistons

The Washington Wizards beat the Detroit Pistons 122-112 on Friday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Changes were subtle: Many were surprised when head coach Scott Brooks decided to trot out the usual starting lineup after all the talk about making changes following their blowout loss to the Hornets on Wednesday, but that didn't mean Brooks was going to keep everything the same. He did adjust his rotation, it just took him a few minutes.

Center Marcin Gortat played four minutes in the first quarter before sitting the rest of the first half. After Markieff Morris began the game cold and missed his first three threes, Scott pulled him and got creative with his lineups.

Early in the second quarter we saw Tomas Satoransky, Jodie Meeks, Kelly Oubre, Otto Porter and Mike Scott in a super small-ball set... and it worked. After the Wizards went down by 15 points, that group exploded back by causing turnovers left and right and took the lead. Even Meeks, who has struggled all season, popped off for six points in his first five minutes.

Whether it was those moves or not, the Wizards came out in the third quarter a different team. They outscored the Pistons 45-28 in the frame and shot 16-for-21.

After going scoreless in the first half, John Wall exploded for 10 points in the third quarter and finished with 16 points and 11 assists for the game. Bradley Beal had 13 points in the third and Gortat had eight. Beal had 26 points for the game and Gortat had 13 points and nine rebounds.

The big third quarter propelled the Wizards to the win. They snapped a two-game slump and improved to 26-20 on the season.


Otto came to play: Brooks ripped into the Wizards following their loss on Wednesday and early on it seemed like most of the players didn't get the message. Porter was a major exception because he came out on fire.

Porter had 11 points, six rebounds and three steals by halftime. He was 3-of-4 from three and was all over the place on both ends of the court.

Porter ended up with 16 points. It was a great sign for the five-year pro, who hadn't reached double figures in six of his previous eight games. If Porter gets going offensively, the Wizards should be in good shape moving forward.

Oubre, too: Oubre gets criticism from time to time about his mistakes on the court, when he gambles on defense or doesn't make the extra pass on offense. But what is never questioned is his effort, so it's no surprise he showed up when Brooks was looking for more energy from his team.

Oubre lit a spark with 11 points in the first half on 4-for-7 from the field in just under 16 minutes. He ended up with a career-high 26 points for the game. He shot 9-for-14 from the field and 5-for-9 from three. He also added five rebounds.

Oubre has been one of the Wizards' most consistent players recently. He has reached double figures in seven straight games and is averaging 16.3 points per game during that stretch.

Oubre has 15 points or more in four straight games, a career-high. This season he has 13 such games compared to seven in his previous two seasons combined. 

If the Wizards continue to struggle in the big picture, Oubre will be knocking on the door to be inserted into the starting lineup. His improvement is also giving the Wizards a lot of options as they approach the trade deadline because if they want to move a starter, he could step right in.

Stocking up: The Wizards beat the Pistons for the third time this season, meaning they took the season series. That could come in handy if the Wizards need a playoff tiebreaker over the Pistons at the end of the season.

Up next: The Wizards are off through the weekend. Their next game is on Monday night at the Dallas Mavericks. Tipoff is at 8:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.


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2018 NBA trade deadline: Hornets are shopping All-Star guard Kemba Walker, report says

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2018 NBA trade deadline: Hornets are shopping All-Star guard Kemba Walker, report says

The Charlotte Hornets are attempting a firesale of sorts with the 2018 NBA trade deadline approaching and have made All-Star point guard Kemba Walker available in talks, according to a report by ESPN.

Walker, 27, is having one of his best seasons with averages of 21.7 points, 5.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He is a prolific scorer and is on a team-friendly contract of $12 million per year through next season.

Though many teams have good point guards these days, there should be a strong market for Walker. Teams like the Sixers, Pistons, Clippers, Knicks and Nuggets would seem to be great fits. 


The Pistons stand out in particular. They are currently ninth in the East and their primary point guard Reggie Jackson is hurt. Even when he does play, they need offense and that's what Walker provides.

The Sixers have Markelle Fultz working his way back from a shoulder injury, but have the assets to trade for Walker and could use some help to make a playoff push. The Knicks could use more talent around Kristaps Porzingis and Walker would certainly help.

There are still about three weeks until the Feb. 8 trade deadline and a lot can change before then. But it appears there is another big name readily available on the market.