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Wizards fall to Cavs, served reminder of LeBron James' dominance

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Wizards fall to Cavs, served reminder of LeBron James' dominance

The Washington Wizards lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers 130-122 on Friday night at Capital One Arena. Here's analysis of what went down...

The Cavs are still the Cavs: Even after losing four straight entering the much-anticipated matchup, the Cleveland Cavaliers issued an emphatic reminder to the Wizards why they have represented the Eastern Conference in three straight NBA Finals. The Wizards are close and both sides know it. But LeBron James wasn't interested in seeing an upstart Wizards team make a statement on national television.

James was brilliant from start to finish. The Wizards threw multiple looks at him. He either scored the ball himself or found his teammates for open threes, consistently killing any Wizards' attempt at a game-changing run.

James was electric in the first half, throwing down multiple poster dunks. He had 15 points in the first quarter, shooting 6-of-7 from the field. In the second half, he went to work in the post.

The Wizards tried guarding him with Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre, Jr. in the first half. None of them worked. John Wall even guarded him on multiple possessions in the second half. All LeBron did was back him down and drop fadeaways in over his block attempts with ease.

In the fourth quarter, the Wizards went super small. Marcin Gortat didn't play and at times they had Jodie Meeks at the three and Porter at the five. That didn't stop LeBron, either.

James remains the best player in the world and he proved it once again against the Wizards. He ended up with 57 points, his most since 2014 and his second-most ever. It was the second straight game the Wizards allowed someone to hit the 40-mark following T.J. Warren of the Suns on Wednesday. It was the 11th time in James' career that he's hit 50 points or more.

In order to knock off the Cavs in the playoffs, the Wizards will have to find a way to deal with LeBron. Stopping him is unrealistic, but they have to limit him better than they did on Friday.

Defense optional: Much like the classic matchup between these teams in February, this game game was light on the defensive end. Both teams are struggling in that department and are also just plain good at scoring. The game was 25-24 Wizards at the 5:04 mark in the first quarter. Both teams shot 66 percent or higher in the frame. 

The Wizards allowed 42 points in the first quarter meaning they gave up 149 points in a four-quarter stretch dating back to Wednesday's game against the Suns. That's not optimal. The scoring deluge continued on throughout the game. The halftime score was 74-66.

The Wizards know they have plenty to fix on defense and it was probably unrealistic they would correct everything against the defending conference champions. What will bother them about this on is their three-point defense, as the Cavs shot 12-for-27. Plus, Derrick Rose had 13 points in his first 9:30 of play. You can't let him go off like that. This isn't 2011.

Bradley Beal also had himself a game. After putting up 40 points against the Suns last game, he went off for 36 vs. Cleveland. It was again in a losing effort. The Wizards have now lost four of their last five games.

Injury scare: Wall fell to the ground writhing in pain late in the third quarter after colliding with Channing Frye. He was diagnosed with a sprained shoulder, though the Wizards don't yet know the severity. 

Also worth noting about Wall: he shot 5-for-12 from the free throw line after going 0-for-4 last game.

Keef is back: The Wizards had a familiar face in the starting lineup on Friday, as Markieff Morris returned from a six-week recovery following sports hernia surgery. The Wizards went to Morris on the very first play in the post. He missed the shot, but ended up scoring their first points of the night.

Morris looked rusty overall. He finished with two points on 1-for-6 shooting and never found a rhythm offensively. He also racked up three quick fouls in 16 total minutes, which wasn't good. 

One moment involving Morris stood out. In the third quarter he and Jae Crowder got into an argument with teammates in between them to keep distance. That's the Keef we know and love.

Up next: The Wizards head out on a mini-road trip. They go north to play the Raptors in Toronto on Sunday. Tipoff is at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.


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The NBA wants to end the one-and-done rule and the timing is right

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The NBA wants to end the one-and-done rule and the timing is right

The NBA is building momentum towards a significant change in their draft entry rules. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been outspoken about his preference to change the so-called one-and-done rule and on Thursday he met with the newly created Commission on College Basketball in Washington, D.C. to discuss the subject.

The meeting was first reported by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, who says the league could once again let high school players be drafted. The compromise could be a rule requiring those who go to college to stay for at least two years. That would be similar to Major League Baseball, which stipulates three years of college.

Would a similar rule be a good idea for the NBA? While the players' union would like the option to go straight from high school, there was a reason the one-and-done rule was implemented in the 2006 collective bargaining agreement. The perception back then was that players left for the NBA too early and many flamed out because of it. The thought was that some players would have had better careers if they were older and more experienced when they became professionals.


Darius Miles, Kwame Brown, Eddy Curry and Sebastian Telfair are notorious cases of draft busts who came out of high school. Many wondered if those guys would have been better off with a year in college to adjust to life on their own and with an intermediary step up in competition.

But there are important differences in the NBA's structure nowadays. Now there is a robust minor league system with G-League affiliates all over the country. There are also two-way contracts, allowing teams to pay more money to a prospect and have more flexibility in bringing them up to the NBA. Players don't have to adjust as quickly as they used to.

The G-League is going to continue to expand and the perception keeps changing. Now, it is more common to see players have a stint in the G-League either for development purposes or injury rehabilitation. Player development of baseball players is different, but the MLB's well-established minor league system is the reason why their rule allowing high school players to go pro really works.

The one year in college under the one-and-done rule, however, does have some positives. Most notably, it allows NBA teams to get a better read on draft prospects. Instead of evaluating guys exclusively in high school and AAU, they get to see them play in the ACC, SEC and other big college conferences.

NBA front offices may be hurt by it, but the time is right to go back to high school players entering the pros. Things are much different than they were in 2006 and the league can handle it. Ending the one-and-done rule would be better for the players and it should also make a lot of college basketball fans happy.

That is the good of what the NBA is considering, however, the rule requiring two years of college should not be part of the equation. If the NBA wants to grant some freedom, then actually do it. Some players may need just one year of college and nothing more. Don't punish them for it.

The two-year requirement seems like a very bad idea, but it could be part of the deal. Either way, it seems like the one-and-done rule could come to an end sooner than later and it's for the best.


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5 must-see moments from Wizards' win over Miami Heat

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' win over Miami Heat

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Wizards' 91-88 loss to the Miami Heat on Friday night at Capital One Arena...

1. The first half didn't feature many highlights for the Wizards, as they managed just 29 points in what was their worst half of the season so far. This play, though, was nice.

Mike Scott hit a buzzer-beater at the end of the first quarter:

Scott had only four points in nine minutes.


2. The Wizards had a special guest in attendance. Nationals ace Max Scherzer showed up and was nice enough to join Chris Miller on the NBC Sports Washington broadcast.

This particular part of the interview was funny. Scherzer was asked who would be the best basketball player on the Nats and who would play the dirtiest. Scherzer was honest:

3. The Wizards were down by as many as 25 points, but they made it a game in large part due to Bradley Beal catching fire in the second half. He hit three threes in the third quarter, including this one:

Beal finished with a game-high 26 points.

4. John Wall (eight points) didn't hit his first shot until there was just 5:25 left in the fourth quarter. But his first shot was a big one, a timely three that helped key the WIzards' comeback charge:

5. Wall would hit another three soon after that:

The Wizards had a final shot attempt, but Beal's stepback jumper rimmed out. They are 9-6 on the season with the Raptors up next.