Wizards

Bulls end Knicks' 5-game winning streak

Bulls end Knicks' 5-game winning streak

CHICAGO (AP) Marco Belinelli and Luol Deng scored 22 points apiece as the Chicago Bulls beat the Knicks 93-85 on Saturday night, snapping New York's five-game winning streak.

Belinelli scored 15 points in the first quarter, while Deng had 10 in the fourth, giving the Bulls their first three-game winning streak of the season.

Carlos Boozer had 12 points and 10 rebounds for Chicago. One night after putting up career highs of 30 points and 23 rebounds in a win at Detroit, Joakim Noah just missed an odd triple-double, getting 10 points and 11 rebounds but committing a career-worst 10 turnovers.

Raymond Felton led the Knicks with 27 points, matching his season high set on Thursday in a victory at Miami. However, Felton was just 9 for 30 from the field, exceeding his career high for field-goal attempts by six shots.

Tyson Chandler had 14 points and 18 rebounds for the Knicks, who shot a season-low 32.1 percent from the floor and matched a season high with 15 turnovers. It was also a season-low point total for New York.

The Knicks again played without leading scorer Carmelo Anthony, who missed his second straight game because of stitches in the middle finger of his left hand. Anthony, who is third in the NBA with 26.4 points per game, was hurt in a win over Charlotte on Wednesday.

Nate Robinson had 12 points, five rebounds and eight assists off the bench for Chicago, which has won five of its last six and 18 of its last 21 at home against New York.

Chandler's free throws pulled New York within three with 1:56 left, but Belinelli hit a side jumper just inside the 3-point line. Then Belinelli fed Noah for a layup with 56 seconds left, putting Chicago up 89-82.

The Knicks attempted 85 3-pointers over their previous two games, or more than 10 per quarter. They got up just three in the first period against the Bulls, the last one from Rasheed Wallace that tied the score at 23 with 3 seconds left.

However, Belinelli took the inbounds pass and hit a 43-footer as the buzzer sounded, putting Chicago up by three and giving him a 15-point first period. The Bulls, who entered the game last in 3-pointers made and attempted, were 4 for 5 from behind the arc in the opening period.

Belinelli and Kirk Hinrich hit 3s during a 10-0 Chicago run after New York scored the first six points of the game. In a ragged start to the second quarter, the Knicks didn't convert a field goal during the first 5:39 before J.R. Smith's 3-pointer drew New York within 30-27.

After the Bulls pushed the lead to seven points, reserve Taj Gibson was ejected by official Derrick Stafford, drawing two quick technical fouls after being called for this third personal foul, a loose ball foul on the Knicks' end.

Steve Novak converted both technical free throws, sparking a nine-point run to give New York the lead. The Bulls battled back and held a 43-41 edge at the break and maintained their two-point advantage through the third period.

NOTES: Anthony warmed up on the court before the game, then declared himself unable to play due to the difficulty he was having catching passes because of the bandage covering his injured finger. He said he hopes to return to action when the Knicks host Denver on Sunday. ... The Knicks entered the game with the fewest turnovers in the league, but committed 12 miscues in the first half alone, one short of their season high. ... Hinrich began the second half on the bench because of an injured left elbow. His return at the time was termed questionable by the team. ... The national anthem was performed by Krysten Knievel, the granddaughter of 1970s daredevil Evil Knievel.

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The Bradley Beal All-NBA Dilemma: How NBA execs would handle the big question facing the Wizards

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The Bradley Beal All-NBA Dilemma: How NBA execs would handle the big question facing the Wizards

“How do you get a player better than Brad if you trade Brad?”

That brain-busting question from a current NBA general manager came before the February 7 trade deadline when rumors involving Wizards guard Bradley Beal swirled.

Another migraine-inducing conundrum is forthcoming whether Beal receives All-NBA honors or not.

Should the league’s upcoming announcement of its first, second and third team include the two-time All-Star, the Wizards may have no choice but to break up the backcourt pairing with John Wall that fueled the franchise’s most sustained success since winning the 1978 title.

This honor comes with a financial reward-- if extended to Beal by the Wizards --  in the form of a supermax contract worth approximately $193 million over four years that would begin in 2021-22. He still has two years and $56 million remaining on the valued five-year, $127 million deal he signed in 2016.

The issue is less about Beal’s hefty chunk of the Wizards’ salary cap, but combining it with Wall’s four-year, $170 million supermax deal that begins next season. Offer Beal the supermax and, should he accept, approximately 71 percent of the team’s future salary cap beginning in the 2021-22 season would be chewed up by two players.

Beal and Wall, when healthy, are All-Stars. They’re not Jordan and Pippen.

NBC Sports Washington spoke with over a dozen league sources in recent weeks including three current or former general managers, other executives, NBA coaches, and scouts, about Beal’s contract situation and the Wizards’ overall equation coming off a 32-50 campaign.

Some dutifully tried putting themselves in the mindset of Washington’s next front office leader knowing Beal’s contract status and other limiting or uncertain factors.

The executives shared opinions on whether to boldly hold or sell high on the Wizards’ best player. Regardless of their stance, their initial instinct almost unanimously landed in the same place as this current lead executive: “I have no idea what you would do.”

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There’s an incredibly strong argument for doing nothing. How do you get a player better than Brad if you trade Brad?

Several NBA sources largely acknowledge the choice almost gets removed from the Wizards front office should Beal receive the All-NBA nod. Even if Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson or Ben Simmons trump Beal in the voting, events from early February may effectively force the Wizards’ hand.

Washington faced its second consecutive luxury tax payment, diminishing playoff hopes and the knowledge that Wall would miss the rest of the season with a heel injury.

Despite those negatives and salary cap concerns with only five players catapulting the team over next season’s salary cap, big picture hope existed. The headliners -- Wall, Beal and Otto Porter -- previously put the Wizards in a playoff contender mode. “We're not trading any of those players,” Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said at the time.

There’s a good reason to believe Leonsis meant what he said. Then life intervened and forced change.

Wall’s left Achilles ruptured during the first week of February. The recovery time means an entire calendar year and perhaps the full 2019-20 season. Those negatives, especially with the salary cap, were now amplified.

Washington dealt with that financial scenario two days after the Wall status update by trading Porter and Markieff Morris to slide under the luxury tax.

Another life event requiring a financial decision could happen soon.

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There’s no debating whether Beal is worthy of the All-NBA accolade. Some believe he is a favorite to snag one of the two guard spots on the third-team.

The dilemma is can the Wizards justify offering a contract with those hefty terms knowing what’s already on the books, plus the upcoming challenges.

Pass and the likelihood of trading Beal at peak value becomes a leading option. Hold Beal regardless and his trade value effectively decreases over the next two seasons with the possibility he leaves as a 2021 free agent without compensation.

“The Wizards is a hard job right now,” a former GM told NBC Sports Washington. “There’s a lot to figure out. Timelines can’t be certain with John Wall in particular. For Bradley Beal, that's a decision… Hard to walk in [to those interviews) with a specific plan.”

Leave the supermax contract off the table and the human element arises. Those familiar with Beal’s mindset do not see a Robin to Wall’s Batman. Co-headliners, cool, but then pay and appreciate accordingly. Maybe folks could start referring to the pair as Beal and Wall once in a while.

Forget the money, which isn’t Beal’s driving motivation. As one source familiar with Beal’s thinking stated, “Brad needs to be in the playoffs. He’s not disruptive...Brad just wants to win.”

The Wizards might not be in playoff position next season even if Beal maintains his All-NBA level. It's a near lock they won't if the 2012 first-round pick is traded.

Beal averaged 30.9 points in February, the same month he dropped a season-high 46 at Charlotte and his All-NBA buzz soared. Beal joined 2019 MVP finalist James Harden as the only players this season to average at least 25 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1.5 steals.

The wing guard’s leadership kept Washington tangibly in the playoff race until realities of the undermanned roster kicked in.

“I think [Brad is] an all-NBA player in my eyes,” said Wall, an All-NBA selection in 2016. “You know how tough it is to make that team? It’s always tough. The year he’s had speaks for itself.”

How do you trade that player especially one groomed by the organization since selecting him third overall in 2012? You can't -- but the Wizards might not have a choice.

Nobody recognizes this more than Bradley Beal.

"Honestly, I’m here until I’m not here," Beal told NBC Sports Washington earlier this month. "I’m not thinking too strong on it. My personal desire is to be here and see the direction we go. Hopefully, the correct direction.

"I keep hearing the possibility of rebooting, trading Brad and getting assets back. It’s a business. I understand both sides of it. I can’t be mad at it."

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Bradley Beal rooted for the Capitals to win the Stanley Cup, so now he deserves to see his hometown team win it this year

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Bradley Beal rooted for the Capitals to win the Stanley Cup, so now he deserves to see his hometown team win it this year

The St. Louis Blues defeated the San Jose Sharks Tuesday to reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1970, where they were eliminated by the Boston Bruins.

They will look to even the odds, as they will be taking on the Bruins yet again on Monday night.

Blues fan and St. Louis native Bradley Beal will hope that his hometown squad will take the cup from the reigning champs, the Washington Capitals, and win the matchup against the Bruins.

Beal cheered on the Caps just a year ago and is ready to show out for the surging Blues.

To really put it into perspective how long it has been since the Blues played for the Cup, take a look at the number one song in the country when these two teams faced off 49 years ago. 

The Blues besting the Bruins will be a challenge, and Beal will be ready to root for his squad until the final buzzer.

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