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Wizards use defense to beat Heat and win fourth straight game

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Wizards use defense to beat Heat and win fourth straight game

The Washington Wizards beat the Miami Heat 102-93 on Wednesday night at American Airlines Arena.

Here's analysis of what went down...

Defense won this one:

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks and his players often say defense is extra important because it can lead to wins on nights when their offense isn't clicking. On Wednesday night, that is exactly what happened.

Now, the Wizards still managed a respectable 102 points, but they shot just 41 percent and in the third quarter only scored 10. Meanwhile, on defense, the Wizards held the Heat to 93 points and 41.6 percent shooting.

The Wizards have now kept their opponents to less than 100 points in four straight games. That matches their longest such streak since the 2014-15 season.

The Wizards have won all four of those games in what is their longest winning streak of the season so far. It has been a nice response by Washington after their ugly loss to the Mavericks just over a week ago.

One could argue Miami (6-8) is much better than their record. This was among the Wizards' best wins of the season so far. It was one thing to do it against Atlanta and Sacramento, but the Heat could be in the playoffs come April.


Wall, Keef took off early:

John Wall entered this game banged up, having sprained his ankle in the Wizards' win over the Kings on Monday to go along with a slew of ailments already holding him back. He wasn't hampered by it one bit.

Wall had 16 points in the first half, eight in each of the first two quarters. And just like Monday, Wall caught fire early from three. He hit his first two shots from long range.

Wall's best highlight, though, resulted in a missed shot.

It was this nutmeg of Hassan Whiteside on the fastbreak:

That's just disrespectful.

Wall, though, slowed down a bit in the second half. He finished with 27 points and six assists on 9-for-21 from the field.

Markieff Morris also got off to a hot start. He had 10 points in his first seven minutes including two threes. He ended up with 15 points in 22 minutes before he not only fouled out, but also got ejected with a second technical. Not often you see that, but when you're already out of the game, might as well give the refs an earful.


Bad third quarter:

The Wizards held a 12-point lead at halftime, but quickly saw things unravel in the third. The Heat outscored the Wizards 25-10 in the frame with the Wizards shooting just 4-for-19 from the field. It was their worst quarter of the season without question. 

Goran Dragic got hot and scored nine points in the third, but this one was all on the Wizards' offense. They couldn't get anything going and it was ugly.

Dragic kept going in the fourth. He took advantage of a mismatch in size against Tim Frazier on several possessions. At one point he posted up Frazier and banked in a turnaround jumper with ease. Dragic ended up with 21 points.

Off-night for Gortat:

Marcin Gortat had a long night dealing with Whiteside down low in this one. While Whiteside had a strong game with 14 points and 21 rebounds, Gortat was held to just two points and five rebounds. He never found a rhythm offensively as the Heat did a good job defending the Wizards' pick-and-roll, which is usually automatic. Gortat finished 0-for-6 from the field.

Gortat was very upset with himself after some recent games where he was outmatched on the boards. He won't be happy with this one, either.

Up next:

The Wizards return home only to see the Heat again. They host Miami on Friday with a 7 p.m. tipoff on NBC Sports Washington.


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Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Associated Press

Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Bradley Beal may have had a slow start in the three-point contest on Saturday night, but in Sunday's All-Star Game he worked quickly to make the most of his relatively small window of playing time.

Beal checked in for the first time with 5:45 left in the first quarter and less than 25 seconds later had his first points on a two-handed dunk assisted by LeBron James.

In his All-Star debut, Beal helped lead Team LeBron to a 148-145 victory over Team Stephen as the league utilizied a new format for the annual showcase.


Beal finished with 14 points and a steal in a productive night. He shot 5-for-10 from the field and an impressive 4-for-8 from long range. 

Beal also tried to get a travelling call from the refs on Karl-Anthony Towns. Yeah, that's not likely to happen in an All-Star Game:

Beal more than held his own and only played 16 minutes, which was good considering he has logged the fifth-most minutes of any player so far this season. A realistic best-case scenario was a strong showing and a short night and that's exactly what he got.

Not only does Beal play a lot of minutes, the Wizards need him now more than ever with John Wall's injury. He needs whatever rest he can get during this All-Star break.

Speaking of Wall, he was in the house despite being in the middle of his rehab from left knee surgery. Per usual, Wall was shining bright:


The All-Star Game wasn't all about Beal, of course. Here are some other things that stood out...

*The new format and increased financial incentive were intended to make the game more competitive and that's what happened late in the fourth quarter. Usually, that's how these things go where the players will start trying at the end. But this time it seemed to be up a few levels and it was fun to watch. 

Both teams scored in the 140s, so it wasn't exactly a defensive battle. No matter what the league does, the players will only try so hard for so long. The main goal of everyone's is to not get injured in a game that ultimately doesn't count for anything. Still, this was different and appears to have been a success.

*While everyone was focusing on the reunion of LeBron and Kyrie Irving the best beef was Joel Embiid vs. Russell Westbrook. Those two have traded waves to taunt each other at the end of wins in head-to-head matchups and it was clear on Sunday they still don't like each other. Westbrook tried to dunk all over Embiid in the first half, only to get blocked at the rim.

Westbrook's determination to dunk on Embiid was out of the ordinary for an All-Star Game. It was obvious what was on his mind:

*Irving's handles are simply ridiculous. Check out this fake behind-the-back move he pulled with Giannis Antetkounmpo guarding him. Yes, it didn't fool the defender but it was impressive nonetheless:

*LeBron is 33 years old, yet he was still running up and down the court faster than anyone and leaping above the rim to thrown down alley-oop after alley-oop. It is truly amazing and everyone should enjoy watching him while they can, regardless of whether they like the guy or not.

This was one of his dunks:

LeBron took home MVP with a game-high 29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and a steal.

*The pregame show was quite bad. It was anchored by comedians Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle and, though they had some funny jokes, it lasted nearly 30 minutes. The whole thing was pretty much universally panned on social media. Fergie's national anthem was also roasted by the masses.

*The halftime show was much better. It began with N.E.R.D taking it back to their older days with 'Lapdance,' went to Migos performing 'Stir Fry' and swung back to N.E.R.D. who did their latest hit 'Lemon.' 


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The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

Whoever put together the NBA All-Star Game player introductions has some 'splainin to do. 

The NBA introduced a kinda-full Staples Center to their 2018 All-Stars about an hour ago, and boy was it weird. There were a lot of dancers in different themed costumes. Kevin Hart was screaming. Rob Riggle was screaming. Ludacris showed up? Hey! Did you know that the Barenaked Ladies are still a band? The NBA would like you to know they're still around.  The whole thing was like when you're at an art museum and you're told that abstract piece in the corner is actually really meaningful but you gotta be honest, you don't get it. 

Anyways, the internet hated it. Here are some highlights from the internet hating it:

The lesson here is that you never need Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle. One will do.