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Wizards tip their cap, but won't bow down to LeBron James' greatness

Wizards tip their cap, but won't bow down to LeBron James' greatness

Whether LeBron James was playing with a bit of extra motivation stemming from comments made by John Wall and Bradley Beal or not, what he did at Capital One Arena on Friday night amounted to a masterpiece from a man who will go down as one of the greatest players in the history of basketball.

James used a steady pour of postup fadeaways and relentless drives to the rim to pile up 57 points against the Wizards, the second-most in his career. His highest scoring game ever was 61 points back in 2014, yet he shot for a higher percentage (67.6%) this time. The only thing that stopped him from scoring more was the game clock because the Wizards, despite exhausting all options, had no answers.

Some of the talk postgame stemmed from what Wall and Beal had said that afternoon on ESPN, essentially that they were the best team in the East and that the Cavaliers tanked at the end of last season to avoid them in the playoffs. That conversation was started by Beal back in May when he told NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller that the Cavs "didn't want to see" them in the conference finals.

LeBron didn't go there afterwards, but perhaps he didn't need to. He had made his point and had the last laugh by doing and saying other things. On the Wizards' defensive strategy of mostly guarding him one-on-one with a revolving door of defenders, LeBron quipped: 

“I guess they figured at some point I’d miss. And I did. I missed 11 shots."

[RELATED: PIERCE SAYS LEBRON SHOULD JOIN WIZARDS]

LeBron hit a career-high 23 field goals on 34 attempts. He grabbed 11 rebounds, dished seven assists and added three steals and two blocks. According to Basketball Reference's game score, it was the best game of LeBron's career and the eighth-best game in the history of the stat, dating back to 1983-84. 

It was a complete performance, a thorough dismantling of a Wizards team that could only tip their caps in respect afterwards.

"We tried everything," Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said. "Tonight, nothing that we did, and we did a lot of things, was going to work. The guy was on fire. That's what happens certain nights with great players.”

"I guess he must just love playing in D.C.," Wall said after referencing LeBron's shot to force overtime last February.

The reaction from the Wizards after getting bulldozed by LeBron also featured some defiance. Yeah, they did some talking. But they don't plan to stop and certainly aren't discouraged by what happened in their 130-122 loss.

The Wizards know they have to knock out the Cavaliers come playoff time to achieve their goals. And the only way to do that is to get another crack at them.

"Probably," Beal said when asked if LeBron was motivated by his words. "But at the end of the day I still stand on what I say and with my teammates... Hopefully down the line we'll see him again and hopefully in a seven-game series. I don't know if he can do that [every game]."

Markieff Morris replied "hell yeah" when asked if he could help stop LeBron better next time, as Morris had just returned from a six-week absence due to injury. 

The Wizards will get another chance to play the Cavaliers, of course. They play three more times in the regular season and as two of the best teams in the East, could very well meet in the playoffs.

When they do meet again, the Wizards may have more to say. That is their style, to be outwardly confident and then try to back it up. They just couldn't do that on Friday night.

[RELATED: PAUL PIERCE TALKS WIZARDS ON THE PODCAST]

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Markieff Morris stands up for rapper Meek Mill, was happy to see support in Philly

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USA Today Sports

Markieff Morris stands up for rapper Meek Mill, was happy to see support in Philly

Rap star Meek Mill going back to prison has affected many of his fans, Markieff Morris among them. The Washington Wizards forward is from Philadelphia, like Meek Mill, and loves his music.

Morris posted information for a rally to support Meek Mill earlier this month on his Instagram. Hundreds of fans showed up, including Sixers legend Julius Erving, Eagles players and Rick Ross.

The whole tri-state pull up and support!!

A post shared by KeefMorris5.0 (@keefmorris5.0) on

[RELATED: MAJOR INJURY NEWS FOR THE 2018 NBA DRAFT]

Morris joined the Wizards Tipoff podcast this week to discuss a series of topics, including Meek Mill. Morris is upset about the situation, but was happy to see the support.

"The city was big. We needed that, man," he said. "For them people to come out, it was a great thing for us, man, to see the support that the city is really behind him 100 percent."

Morris defended Meek Mill's character and pointed to his charitable efforts.

"Meek does a lot of stuff that goes unseen in Philly. He's kind of like us when it comes to showing support for the city and doing stuff while not looking for cameras to be broadcast it that he's doing something nice. He just does it because he's a good person," Morris said.

Meek Mill is going back to prison for violating his probation numerous times over the past several years. He was sentenced to two to four years.

Morris also talked about his relationship with John Wall and Bradley Beal, why he loves playing with Mike Scott, why the Wizards are a tough team and many other subjects.

Listen to the full interview right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

[RELATED: BRADLEY BEAL'S BIG MILESTONE, BY THE NUMBERS]

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Wizards at Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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USA Today Sports Images

Wizards at Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and the Washington Wizards battle Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Malik Monk and the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night.

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

WASHINGTON WIZARDS AT CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Where: Spectrum Center
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington Plus (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Online with no cable TV: fuboTV (try for free)
Radio: 1500 AM

Three things to watch...

Defense has been excellent

The Wizards have shown recently that they are capable of being one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. In six of their last seven games they have held opponents to 95 points or less and they have kept teams to 100 points or less in seven straight. Only one team, the Celtics, has kept teams to 95 points or less more often than the Wizards (seven times). And only three teams have held opponents to 100 points or less more times than the Wizards (nine times).

The Wizards are eighth in defensive rating (102.5) and in points allowed (102.9/g) this season. They are third in points allowed in their last nine games. Have they played the best opponents? Maybe not. But those are impressive numbers, nonetheless.

[PODCAST: MORRIS ON WHY THE WIZARDS ARE A TOUGH TEAM]

Hornets have Howard now

Charlotte offers a different look these days with big man Dwight Howard manning the middle. They acquired him in a trade with the Hawks this offseason and he's off to a good start so far. Howard is averaging 14.6 points, 12.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. He had 25 points, 20 rebounds and four blocks against the Timberwolves on Monday.

The Hornets have also seen a huge improvement from 25-year-old guard Jeremy Lamb. The former first round pick is averaging 16.0 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 46.4 percent. Last year he averaged a career-high 9.7 points.

[RELATED: BRADLEY BEAL ON THE ART OF GETTING FOULED]

Recent history

The Wizards have handled the Hornets well in recent years. They won two of their three meetings last season and have won seven of the last 10 matchups going back to 2015. All three of the games between these teams last year, however, were decided by 10 points or less.

Walker tends to have trouble against John Wall. Walker has shot a hideous 35.7 percent against the Wizards in his career despite averaging 17.6 points and 6.4 assists. Wall's numbers against the Hornets are lower than his career norms, too. He's averaging a modest 17.7 points on 42.7 percent from the field. His 98 defensive rating vs. Charlotte is tied for his worst against any NBA team.

[RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS]