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Without John Wall, Bradley Beal and Wizards step up to beat the Raptors in Toronto

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Without John Wall, Bradley Beal and Wizards step up to beat the Raptors in Toronto

The Washington Wizards beat the Toronto Raptors 107-96 on Sunday night at the Air Canada Centre. Here's analysis of what went down...

Huge early season win: The Wizards needed this one. Having lost four of five, one more loss would have dropped them below .500 for the first time since January.

Bradley Beal made sure that wasn't going to happen. With John Wall sidelined due to a left shoulder sprain, Beal and the Wizards stepped up to earn a big win against a good Raptors team. Now the Wizards return home 5-4 with five of their next six at home.

The Raptors are one of the best teams in the East and have one of the most electric home crowds. But the Wizards were able to overcome the odds and pull out an impressive win.

Beal and Otto stepped up: With Wall out, the Wizards needed others to fill the void and that's exactly what they did. There were a lot of contributors to this win, but Beal and Otto Porter stood out above all.

Beal was dominant in the first half. He had 22 points on 9-of-11 from the field, two of them threes. That included 13 points in the second quarter alone. 

Beal was consistently driving to the rim, finishing with two-handed slams and crafty layups around the rim. He ended up with 38 points and became just the sixth player in franchise history to drop 35 points or more in three straight games, following his 40 against the Suns and 36 agains the Cavs.

Porter had 19 points, nothing crazy, but eight of those were in the first half. He also had five rebounds, two steals and a block.

Major gift: The Wizards didn't have Wall, but the Raptors lost their own All-Star point guard just four minutes into the second quarter when Kyle Lowry was ejected for his second technical. Lowry hasn't been playing well to start this season and had only two points when he was bounced, but his departure made things a lot easier on Tim Frazier and Tomas Satoransky. 

Lowry, by the way, kissed a kid on his way to the locker room after getting ejected:

Lowry was out for most of this one, plus DeMar DeRozan had an off night. DeRozan had 26 points, but shot 8-for-21 overall and 0-for-5 from three. Beal, Porter and Kelly Oubre, Jr. deserve some credit for that. Oubre also added 10 points and has reached double figures in five of nine games this season.

Morris much better this time: Markieff Morris' season debut against the Cavs on Friday night didn't go so well. He had only two points, shot 1-for-6 and was clearly out of rhythm. On Sunday against the Raptors, he was making an impact on both ends of the floor.

Morris had 10 points and three rebounds in his first 10 minutes. He was only able to play 17 minutes, and finished with a modest 10 points, but he showed in Toronto that he can still make a big difference with limited playing time. The Wizards know it will take weeks before Morris rounds into regular season physical shape, but Sunday was a good sign he is finding his groove.

Up next: The Wizards return home to host Dennis Smith, Jr. and the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday at Capital One Arena. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.


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Wizards vs. Sixers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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Wizards vs. Sixers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick and the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night.

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


Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 7 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Another test

The Wizards continue their difficult stretch coming out of the All-Star break against a very dangerous Sixers team. Philly has proven to be very streaky this season, but right now they are rolling. They come to Washington having won their last seven games dating back to Feb. 6 when they beat the Wizards at the Wells Fargo Center. The Wizards are also playing well, having won eight of their last 11, despite their loss to the Hornets on Friday.

The Sixers are currently seventh in the East and appear on track to make the playoffs. If they keep rising the standings, they could meet the Wizards, who are currently fourth, in the first round. 


Season series

Speaking of the playoffs, this game could end up looming large for postseason seeding. The Sixers have won two of the three matchups between these teams this year. If they win on Sunday, they will take the season series and own the tiebreaker over Washington.

If the two teams tie head-to-head and end up with the same record at the end of the season, it will then come down to conference record. The Sixers currently have a better record against East teams than the Wizards. But if they can beat Philly this time, the Wizards will have a chance to secure the conference tiebreaker down the stretch of this season.


Sixers are tough to guard

The Wizards have found out the hard way this season just how difficult it can be to match up with the Sixers, who are led by two emerging stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Embiid is 7-foot-1 with rare abilities to stretch the floor and beat opponents off the dribble. Simmons is 6-foot-10, yet can lead the fastbreak with rare speed and vision to find his teammates with crisp passes.

The mobility for their size is almost unmatched and it has not been easy for the Wizards to answer. In their last meeting earlier this month, Simmons had 15 points, eight assists, six rebounds and three steals. Embiid had 27 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. The Wizards have to try to limit those guys while also dealing with other challenges like Robert Covington, Dario Saric and J.J. Reddick.


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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.


The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.


Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one.