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Wizards gut out tough win vs. Timberwolves to snap losing streak

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Wizards gut out tough win vs. Timberwolves to snap losing streak

The Washington Wizards beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 92-89 on Tuesday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Gutsy win: The assumption when John Wall went down for two weeks with a left knee injury was that the Wizards would absolutely need Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and their starters to lead the way in order for them to win. On Tuesday night, much of the credit should go to the bench.

To be fair, Porter was the closer in their win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, a victory that snapped a two-game skid. Porter (22 points, eight rebounds) hit two big shots in the final minute to help seal the win, one a hook on the baseline and the second a jumper from about 20 feet out. But the Wizards' second unit came through with perhaps their best collective performance of the season. 

The Wizards were reeling in the first quarter when head coach Scott Brooks turned to the bench early looking for a spark. That's exactly what he got as Kelly Oubre, Jr., Jodie Meeks and Tomas Satoransky helped Washington claw back. After trailing by 11 points with just over a minute left in the first quarter, the Wizards took the lead at the 9:33 mark if the second on a Meeks three. The Wizards had 25 bench points in the first half and 49 for the game.

Satoransky did a nice job pushing the pace and distributing. He had six assists to go along with seven points and a steal. Ian Mahinmi had eight rebounds and was plus-18. He did a solid job guarding Karl-Anthony Towns, who had 20 points and 17 rebounds but missed shots in key moments in the fourth quarter. 

Meeks had 12 points in 17 minutes. Mike Scott caught fire in the second half to put in 12 points in 20 minutes with five rebounds and two steals. Oubre had 16 points and four rebounds. More on him in a moment. 

The Wizards' defense was excellent after the first quarter. The Wolves only scored 59 points in the final three frames and Andrew Wiggins, who had 11 points in the first half, managed only two in the second.

The Wizards are now 11-9 on the year and 2-2 without Wall this season.

[PODCAST: SATORANSKY ON HIS CAREER, BEING A CZECH CELEBRITY]

Beal struggled: This was Beal's worst game of the season so far, or at least the worst that he was not ejected from. He never found a rhythm and just didn't look like himself. Beal finished with eight points on 2-for-11 shooting. He had just four points in each half. Jimmy Butler was harrassing him all night and deserves some credit.

Early on there were a few shots for Beal that rolled in and out. Perhaps he got discouraged because the usual aggression just wasn't there. He only attempted one three, for instance.

Gortat and Morris M.I.A.: With Oubre, Mahinmi and Scott playing so well, Brooks kept starters Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris on the bench for the entire fourth quarter. Gortat started the game well and finished with nine points and seven rebounds. Morris was off all game and ended it with two points on 1-for-6 shooting. Morris has not been playing well lately, just 13 games back since returning from his injury absence.

Oubre keeps getting better: Oubre continues to make plays we didn't see from him just months ago. He grabbed a rebound and took it coast-to-coast for a layup. He drove baseline, spun to his left and finished. He hit a running floater in the lane with his right hand.

He even threw a pass behind his back on the fastbreak to set up a Mike Scott dunk:

Oubre's game continues to develop in a variety of ways. He's a better dribbler, passer and shooter than he was last season and he's making the Wizards' bench a much better unit.

Up next: The Wizards move on to Philadelphia for the second game of a back-to-back set and for their second matchup with the Sixers of the season. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

[RELATED: BEAL IS NOT A FAN OF NBA'S LAST TWO MINUTE REPORTS]

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NBC Sports Washington's Chase Hughes reveals his 2018 NBA All-Star ballot

NBC Sports Washington's Chase Hughes reveals his 2018 NBA All-Star ballot

The 2018 NBA All-Star starters have been announced with few surprises based on the previous updates we saw from fan voting, which account for 50 percent of the equation. The other 50 percent is split by players and media.

I had the honor of filling out one of the media ballots before the Jan. 15 deadline and in interest of transparency, here is how I voted with some brief reasoning for why:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

G Kyrie Irving, Celtics

Irving is the best player on the top team in the conference. He is scoring like he always has, but is now expanding his game under coach Brad Stevens.

G Bradley Beal, Wizards

Beal has turned into one of the best scorers in the NBA and now does so many more things. It wasn't an easy pick between him, DeMar DeRozan, John Wall and Victor Oladipo, but Beal has been so valuable to the Wizards this season with Wall missing extended time that he got the nod.

PODCAST: WHAT CHANGES SHOULD THE WIZARDS MAKE?

F LeBron James, Cavs

LeBron remains the best player in basketball and is having one of his best seasons at the age of 33. It's incredible to watch and he is deserving of the most votes.

F Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

Giannis is a bonafide star and is among the most versatile players in the NBA with how he can affect the game on both ends of the floor. Even without a three-point shot, he's completely unstoppable on offense.

F Joel Embiid, Sixers

Embiid is proving he can stay on the court (for the most part) and is putting up crazy numbers. Kristaps Porzingis and others got consideration for this spot, but Embiid edged them out with his rebounding.

RELATED: BROOKS FEELS GOOD ABOUT WALL AND BEAL'S ALL-STAR CHANCES

WESTERN CONFERENCE

G Russell Westbrook, Thunder

His scoring is down from last season, but Westbrook tops the NBA in assists per game and things are starting to click in Oklahoma City with him leading the way.

G James Harden, Rockets

The NBA's leading scorer, Harden is still putting up insane numbers despite co-existing with another star guard in Chris Paul. And the Rockets are really, really good.

F Kevin Durant, Warriors

The best player on the league's best team, Durant is currently fifth in points per game and tied for third in blocks. He is incredibly efficient and does so many things well.

F Anthony Davis, Pelicans

Davis continues to put up impressive numbers, but he's now more efficent than ever. The Pelicans are currently sixth in the West, too.

F Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves

Towns has become almost underrated with all the attention placed on other young stars in the league, but he's as good as any of them. Big KAT has the T'Wolves on track to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

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2018 NBA All-Star Game: LeBron James, Steph Curry named captains; Wall and Beal miss cut for starters

2018 NBA All-Star Game: LeBron James, Steph Curry named captains; Wall and Beal miss cut for starters

The NBA announced the starters for next month's 2018 All-Star Game and once again LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers was the top vote-getter.

Stephen Curry of the Warriors was second in votes, meaning he and James will serve as captains and pick teams for the Feb. 18 showcase.

Neither John Wall or Bradley Beal of the Wizards made the cut as starters, so they will have to hope to make it as reserves by NBA coaches. The full rosters are announced on Tuesday, Jan. 23.

For the starters, fans accounted for 50 percent of the vote with players and media each representing 25 percent. 

PODCAST: WHAT CHANGES SHOULD THE WIZARDS MAKE?

Here are the starters from each conference. Keep in mind these groups will be split up once the captains pick their teams:

EASTERN CONFERENCE ALL-STAR STARTERS

G Kyrie Irving, Celtics -- 2,170,833 fan votes (5th All-Star appearance)

G DeMar DeRozan, Raptors -- 998,999 fan votes (4th)

F LeBron James, Cavs -- 2,638,294 fan votes (14th)

F Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks -- 2,530,211 fan votes (2nd)

F Joel Embiid, Sixers -- 1,285,587 fan votes (1st)

RELATED: BROOKS FEELS GOOD ABOUT WALL AND BEAL'S ALL-STAR CHANCES

WESTERN CONFERENCE ALL-STAR STARTERS

G Stephen Curry, Warriors -- 2,379,494 fan votes (5th All-Star appearance)

G James Harden, Rockets -- 1,486,830 fan votes (6th)

F Kevin Durant, Warriors -- 2,238,406 fan votes (9th)

F Anthony Davis, Pelicans -- 1,088,230 fan votes (4th)

F DeMarcus Cousins, Pelicans -- 922,269 fan votes (4th)

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS