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Bradley Beal says selfishness is holding Wizards back against lesser teams

Bradley Beal says selfishness is holding Wizards back against lesser teams

The Wizards did something on Wednesday night they often do, they lost to a team with a record much worse than theirs.

With a 113-99 loss to the Hawks, the Wizards now have more losses to sub-.500 teams (10) than they did all of last season, despite the fact they have played just 35 games.

It has happened enough to produce a familiar refrain and the Wizards have become conscious of repeating themselves.

"I keep telling it. It’s like a broken record," head coach Scott Brooks said. "We’ve gotta put a stop to it."

"It’s definitely frustrating," guard Bradley Beal said. "You don’t want to be insane about it and keep thinking it’s going to change when we keep going back to the same routine."

The Wizards (19-16) lost to the Atlanta Hawks, owners of the NBA's worst record at 9-25, and did so just two days after beating the Boston Celtics on Christmas Day, yet it was not surprising. The Wizards have followed a pattern this season of playing well against good teams and poorly against bad ones.

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Their 10-6 record against teams at .500 or better is the best in the Eastern Conference. Their 10 losses against sub-.500 teams lead the NBA.

After these types of losses, the Wizards preach effort and team defense, making the extra pass and focus for a full 48 minutes. On Wednesday, Beal offered a new theory.

"We were too selfish on offense and defense. Plain and simple," he said. "We are so consumed with thinking about stuff that shouldn’t matter during a game instead of winning the game. That trumps everything else."

Beal didn't go into details and didn't name names. He could have been referring to himself as part of a group or to others. He likely means players are chasing stats and not holding up their end on defense.

What it says more than anything is that Beal is starting to hold others accountable to a different degree. He is one of the leaders in the locker room and clearly is not pleased. Perhaps it will take guys like him and John Wall calling people out for something to change. Though, it should be noted, that they didn't play well either against Atlanta. Beal had 20 points and six rebounds, but shot 36.8 percent. Wall had a double-double with 10 points and 11 assists, but shot 3-for-9 and was a -16.

The Wizards remain in solid shape, all things considered. They are fifth in the Eastern Conference and a game out of fourth place. But they know their inconsistency is not sustainable if they want to accomplish the goals they set out for.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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