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John Wall, Bradley Beal shine as Wizards top Knicks in preseason

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John Wall, Bradley Beal shine as Wizards top Knicks in preseason

The Washington Wizards beat the New York Knicks 104-100 in their second preseason game on Friday night at Capital One Arena.

How it happened: After making quick work of the Guangzhou Long-Lions, a Chinese Basketball Association import, in their first preseason game, Friday night offered the Wizards a chance to face an NBA team (yes, the Knicks count) for the first time in their exhibition schedule. Though they were without superstar Kristaps Porzingis (rest) and eighth overall pick Frank Ntilikina (knee), the Knicks gave the Wizards a fight with a group mostly comprised of journeyman veterans.

Head coach Scott Brooks tried many different lineups as he continues to explore his rotation with Markieff Morris due to miss several weeks of the regular season. Jason Smith started at power forward, but Mike Scott also saw plenty of time there. Brooks also went with a small-ball lineup with Kelly Oubre, Jr. and Otto Porter, Jr. on the court at the same time. After getting lots of run vs. the Long-Lions, Chris McCullough didn't see the floor in this one.

Even though they were missing their best players, the Knicks kept pace with the Wizards and only trailed by one point at halftime. Enes Kanter (16 points) and Tim Hardaway, Jr. (15 points) were tough to stop for the Wizards.

New York started to pull away in the third quarter with a double-digit lead before a series of threes by Oubre and Carrick Felix tied it up late in the frame. Sheldon Mac and Oubre helped push the Wizards to a win in the fourth quarter.

What it means: The Wizards don't appear to be close to picking a starter at power forward. Their defense remains a work in progress. Wall and Bradley Beal (13 points, 21 min.) looked like the best players on the court, per usual.

Wall's debut: Wall didn't show much rust at all for the most part. Early on he was getting to the rim at will, which was to be expected given the competition. There's a reason the Knicks took Ntilikina so high and without him they don't have much at the point guard position. Wall was getting by Jack and Sessions with ease. At one point Beasley was switched onto him and Wall blew right past him for a huge dunk.

Wall did, however, rack up an uncharacteristic amount of turnovers. There were a few times he just lost the ball in transition, a sign of him not yet being in regular season rhythm. Wall had three turnovers compared to just one assist in the first quarter. He ended up with five giveaways. In terms of scoring, Wall was very sharp. He finished with 19 points on 9-of-14 shooting in 23:43 of play.


Scott a standout: Wall has spoken glowingly of Scott's ability to score, which may go overlooked when most think about the former UVa standout. Scott is known for his defense and toughness. But he had some smooth plays on offense, including a corner three assisted by Wall. Scott also had a fadeaway from the elbow that showed off his quick release. Scott will be doing a lot of the dirty work for the Wizards' bench, but he can definitely score some when needed. Scott had 12 points, four rebounds and three assists in 18:55. He shot 5-for-9 from the field.

Meeks provides a spark: Much like the first preseason game, Jodie Meeks could not be stopped as soon as he checked in. He knocked down his first three and finished 2-for-3 from long range. One of those was off a screen and he showed no hesitation. Meeks had eight points in 8:45, shooting 3-for-5 from the field. 

Roster competition: Donald Sloan didn't play in the game due to a thigh strain, but Mac was able to go despite jamming his thumb on Monday and missing practice time this week. Mac had some moments, including a nice layup on a fastbreak where he went three-quarters of the court off the dribble. He also found Oubre for a big slam midway through the fourth.

Carrick Felix had a nice strip of Doug McDermott, but missed a contested layup on the other end. He had five points in 11:36.

Up next: The Wizards host the defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday at 3:00 p.m., their last home preseason game. That will be on NBC Sports Washington. After that, the Wizards hit the road for two exhibition games before the regular season begins.


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Must-see moments from Wizards' loss to Cavs, including John Wall's big block

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Must-see moments from Wizards' loss to Cavs, including John Wall's big block

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Wizards' 106-99 loss to the Cavs on Sunday night...

1. The Cavs and Wizards aren't much of a heated rivalry anymore, but early on in this one Kelly Oubre, Jr. and J.R. Smith had an interesting moment.

For some reason Smith decided to push Oubre to the ground and he earned a technical foul for doing so. Oubre then did some pushups when he hit the ground. Oubre has a tendency to do pushups midgame, but this was probably the best instance of them:

2. It was another game for the Wizards so of course Mike Scott scored a bunch of points, as he's been prone to do in recent weeks. Scott dropped 19 points with four rebounds and four assists.

This is when he started to get hot, when he hit threes on back-to-back possessions in the first half:


3. It was John Wall's third game back since he recovered from a swollen left knee and once again he didn't put up his usual numbers. Wall was limited to 15 points and six assists, though he did have 10 rebounds.

Wall's best play was a block. He stuffed Kevin Love on a play you just don't see very often from point guards:

4. LeBron James (20 points, 15 assists, 12 rebounds) had his fourth triple-double in his last five games, but he didn't shoot very well overall. He was just 8-for-23 and for him that is considered an off-night.

This play in particular made him look out of sorts. Everyone knows LeBron sometimes travels, but twice on the same play?

5. Oubre ended up having a good game with 11 points and eight rebounds and this was his best play, a two-handed putback slam:


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Wizards' loss to Cavs displays difference in depth between the teams

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Wizards' loss to Cavs displays difference in depth between the teams

The Wizards were without Otto Porter, who sat out with a hip injury, on Sunday night against the Cavs and matters were further complicated by his replacement, Kelly Oubre, Jr., getting into early foul trouble. John Wall was in just his third game back after missing nine with a left knee injury. Markieff Morris still isn't himself and had to get an X-ray midgame after getting hit in the neck.

That's a lot of reasons one could point to for why the Wizards lost to the Cavaliers on Sunday night. The problem is that even all those things added together don't equal the plight of their opponent.

The Cavs have been without Isaiah Thomas all season and on Sunday they were missing Dwyane Wade, Iman Shumpert and Derrick Rose, leaving them dangerously thin at the guard position. They started 36-year-old Jose Calderon against Wall, one of the best point guards in the business.

The Cavs were playing the second game of a back-to-back set, having beaten the Jazz in Cleveland the night before. And the Cavs also didn't get a great shooting night from LeBron James, who managed a triple-double with 20 points but shot just 8-for-23 from the field. That's nowhere near his 57-point performance back in November in the first game between these teams.


They were playing a back-to-back, were missing four key players and LeBron's shot was off, but the Cavs still had enough to secure a road win against a good team in the Wizards. A big reason why is because they have one of the deepest rosters in basketball. Despite missing a host of regulars, they still had enough capable options to roll a 10-man rotation and see all their players record a net rating of even or better.

Perhaps it's unfair to draw major conclusions from a matchup between these teams that excluded so many key figures, but on Sunday night the Wizards were reminded how they still have work to do in order to catch the Cavs, who have represented the Eastern Conference in three straight NBA Finals. Some would point to the obvious reason for that, how they have the best player on the planet and the Wizards do not. But it was hard not to notice the Cavs' depth as being another separator on Sunday night.

The Cavs, who have won 17 of their last 18 games, can win in a variety of ways and with a lot of different people contributing to the cause. Some of the players who came off the bench to help them win on Sunday would have much smaller roles if everyone on the roster were healthy. Jeff Green had 15 points and five rebounds in 29 minutes. Kyle Korver had 11 points and shot 4-for-6 from the field. Channing Frye and Cedi Osman, who may not see the floor if others had played, each had five points and were 4-for-6 combined from the field.

Through 30 games, more than a third of the 2017-18 season, the Wizards appear to be a deeper team after improving their bench, which was a noted weakness. Mike Scott has emerged as a consistent scorer. Ian Mahinmi is healthy and in recent weeks has started to round into form. Tomas Satoransky is developing into a nice backup point guard and Jodie Meeks has improved the backup shooting guard position from last season.


Once Wall and Morris play to their career norms, the Wizards should be a better team than they were last season. But whether they have the depth to truly test the Cavaliers in a playoff series is a question we don't yet know the answer to.

The Wizards will have to make a decision at some point before the February 8 trade deadline, which is now 53 days away, of what they need to really give themselves a chance at a deep playoff run. And in order to go deep in the postseason, they will likely have to square off against the Cavs.

Not all of their decisions will be based on how it directly affects their matchup with Cleveland, but surely that will be kept in mind as the Wizards look ahead towards the playoffs. They know who has to be knocked off to get where they want to go.

So far through two meetings with the Cavs this season, the Wizards have lost both of those games and neither featured the two teams at full strength. In their first meeting on Nov. 3, Morris was in his first game back from sports hernia surgery and Thomas, of course, didn't play. Their next matchup will be Feb. 22, after the deadline, meaning they have all the data they will get in terms of how the teams stack up head-to-head.

Do the Wizards need to make a move in the next two months to get closer to the Cavs, or do they already have enough to measure up in the spring? That's not an easy call for the Wizards' front office to make.