Wizards

Miami Heat sign Chris Andersen to 10-day contract

Miami Heat sign Chris Andersen to 10-day contract

MIAMI (AP) Chris Andersen wore a stars-and-stripes headband Sunday morning, showed off the colorful array of tattoos that stretch from his neck to his ankles and virtually all spots in between, and spoke about himself in the third person.

He's got 10 days to make an impression on the Miami Heat.

Seems like he's already off to a good start.

The veteran forward-center signed a 10-day deal with the Heat on Sunday and worked out with his new club for the first time. For a team that's looking for rebounding help, Andersen - who hasn't appeared in an NBA game since playing with Denver last March - is hoping that he will be the answer.

``This opportunity and being with the defending champs, it's a dream come true,'' Andersen said. ``They're taking a chance with me and I'm here to give them everything I've got, defensively, diving on the floor, blocking shots, you know, the usual that a Birdman does and what Birdman brings.''

Birdman is the nickname he's had for years.

The Heat are more than a little curious to find out if he can still fly.

``Typically, you're not able to get a player of his caliber at this time of year,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ``But three years ago he was the best in the game coming off the bench at his position, as a shot-blocker and a rebounder. We've always liked him. We had him in our camp a long time ago, when he was just coming up in this league, pre-tattoo, and we liked him back then. Ever since then we've searched for ways to get him back.''

The Heat worked Andersen - who has averaged 5.4 points and 5.2 rebounds in 482 NBA games - out earlier this month, around the time they were starting a six-game road swing. They didn't sign him immediately, but Andersen was doing two-a-day sessions in Miami while the Heat were gone and in essence scouting the way they played from studying their games closely during the trip.

If all goes well, Andersen is expected to make his Heat debut on Wednesday when Miami hosts Toronto.

``We love guys with chips who feel like they've got something to prove for a lot of teams not giving them an opportunity,'' Heat forward LeBron James said. ``Hopefully he plays with that type of intensity.''

Andersen's past - and in some respects, his present - is dotted by off-court issues.

He was barred from the NBA for just over two years because of substance-abuse issues, and had his home in Colorado searched last May as part of an investigation into what was described as Internet-related crimes against children. He was excused from team activities by Denver to deal with the investigation, and the Nuggets waived him through the amnesty clause in July.

``There has been an investigation and I have cooperated fully with the authorities in Denver,'' Andersen said. ``I am not the target of the investigation and no arrests have been made and no charges have been filed against me. I'm grateful for this opportunity that the Miami Heat has given me.''

Speaking before his team played Oklahoma City on Sunday night, Denver coach George Karl said he was ``very happy'' that Andersen is getting a chance with Miami.

``Bird knows we've given him very good endorsements,'' Karl said.

Spoelstra did not address Andersen's off-court questions specifically, though insisted that Miami has no qualms about bringing him into the mix.

``We've done enough research on him. We feel he fits in very well,'' Spoelstra said.

And yes, Heat president Pat Riley's preference for players to not wear headbands - a policy that has been relaxed a bit in recent years - will not apply to Andersen.

He asked for permission, and apparently got it in a mildly comical manner.

``I was told about the code of conduct around here,'' Andersen said. ``I went into Pat Riley's office and I asked him if it was cool if I could wear my headband, because I do a sweat a lot. And he was like, yeah, because he didn't want me perspiring on his nice floor.''

No, what Riley wants is for him to rebound on his nice floor.

Rebounding has been a major question for the Heat in recent weeks, even while the team has held on to the top spot in the Eastern Conference race. So the team made roughly 21 feet worth of moves on Sunday, signing both Andersen and Jarvis Varnado to 10-day deals - it's Varnado's second such contract with Miami - and recalling another big man, Dexter Pittman from the NBA Development League team in Sioux Falls.

Miami entered Sunday ranked 29th in the 30-team NBA in rebounds per game.

``I'm here to help assist in any kind of rebounding or defense that I can provide to an already outstanding team who are defending champions,'' Andersen said. ``And I'm just ecstatic to be here and I'm ready to get back to blockin' and rollin'.''

Andersen said he had his left knee scoped in August, but has been able to work out in Texas and Colorado while waiting for an NBA team to call. He didn't reveal how good the knee feels now, though pointed to his tattoos as evidence that he's got at least some level of pain tolerance.

``That ain't gonna keep the Birdman from flyin' and getting in there and getting some rebounds and bangin' and playin' hard,'' Andersen said. ``As you can see, I'm pretty much accustomed to pain. But it ain't gonna stop me from coming out here and assisting these champions and trying to help them win another championship.''

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10 must-see moments from Wizards' wild OT win over Blazers, including John Wall's Jordan shrug

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USA Today Sports

10 must-see moments from Wizards' wild OT win over Blazers, including John Wall's Jordan shrug

The Washington Wizards beat the Portland Trail Blazers 125-124 in overtime on Monday night. Here are five plays or moments worth revisiting...

1. We will get to the game, and we will get to many things done by the Wizards, but we begin with a moment from pregame. Apparently, it was Halloween costume night for the Blazers and Moe Harkless stole the show by dressing up as Tyrone Biggums from Chappelle's Show:

Adam Silver, if you're reading this, please institute a rule requiring every team to do a Halloween costume arrivals night. You owe us this.

2. Okay, now for the game. Kelly Oubre Jr. was one of the stars of the night with 22 points, six rebounds, a block and a steal.

Here is one of his first buckets, a shot off the glass that was not an easy one to get to go down:

3. In the first half, Bradley Beal picked up right where he left off last time he was in Portland when he dropped a career-high 51 points. He had 19 of his 25 total points in the first half, including this baseline drive after a nasty crossover:

4. Markieff Morris also had himself a night. He popped off for 28 points in 25 minutes on 9-for-15 from the field and a career-high six threes. This was an athletic move around the rim you don't often see from Morris:

Was that some jelly from Keef? Not bad.

5. John Wall had a relatively quiet night for his standards with 16 points on 5-for-16 from the field with nine assists. Here was his best play, one of his signature chasedown blocks:

6. Back to Oubre. He was feeling it and even got Steve Buckhantz to drop a 'Tsunami Papi' reference on the broadcast:

For Buckhantz, as Oubre would say, "the wave is free."

7. Beal went cold in the third quarter, missing his first seven shots of the second half. But he got his groove back when the Wizards needed it most.

This three answered a go-ahead shot by Nik Stauskas and forced overtime:

Beal was super pumped:

8. Two of Morris' six threes came in overtime, including this one to help seal the victory. Morris knocked one down with only 38.5 seconds left and it put the Wizards up by four:

9. Wall helped put the Blazers down for good with a bank shot from the elbow. Some might say it was lucky, while others would say he called game:

Wall even had to hit the Blazers with a Jordan shrug. Portland has seen that before.

10. The Blazers had a chance in the final seconds, but Otto Porter Jr. put the finishing touches on the win with this block on Damian Lillard's buzzer-beater attempt. Though Porter didn't have huge numbers - he scored 16 points - his fingerprints were all over this win:

What an incredible game. We can all agree the Wizards and Blazers should play more often. Well, maybe not the Blazers. The Wizards have had a lot of fun at their expense in recent years.

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Five observations from Wizards' 125-124 overtime win over the Blazers, including Markieff Morris' career night

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USA Today Sports

Five observations from Wizards' 125-124 overtime win over the Blazers, including Markieff Morris' career night

The Washington Wizards beat the Portland Trail Blazers 125-124 in overtime on Monday night. Here are five observations from the game...

Wild game, huge win: Though it was just the third game of the regular season, it felt like the Wizards needed this one. They had just lost their first two games to teams missing key players and battling through the second nights of back-to-backs. And up next is the defending-champion Warriors.

Lose this one and the Wizards could have put themselves in a very tough early season hole, but they rallied to overcome a sluggish offensive start to the second half to secure their first victory of the season.

Considering the alternative, this was about as important a win could be this early in the year.

Oubre showed some life: The shots finally started falling for Kelly Oubre Jr. After shooting just 5-for-16 from the field and 1-for-7 for three in his first two games, Oubre broke out with 22 points on 9-for-13 shooting and 3-for-3 from three in this one. He also added six rebounds, a steal and a block.

To his credit, Oubre didn't force anything out of frustration after the way he started the season. He began the night by calmly knocking down a three from the slot, then attacking the rim for a shot off the glass a play later. Oubre was aggressive getting into the lane and scored with both hands.

This was, quite easily, Oubre's best performance so far in 2018-19, including the preseason. He was active deflecting the ball on defense and played controlled, intelligent basketball on offense. 

There were many plays he made that won't show up in the box score that helped lead the Wizards to their win; deflections, a huge charge taken in the final minutes of overtime. He was absolutely locked in.

Now, there were some lowlights. Oubre let several players get by him too easily, including Evan Turner and Jake Layman. Oubre has the tools to stay in front of those guys. But all in all, Oubre made a big difference in this game and that was good to see.

Morris balled out: While Oubre had his best game in the past few weeks, Markieff Morris may have had his best performance in a Wizards uniform. The Wizards forward exploded for 28 points in 25 minutes with nine rebounds, a block and a steal. He set a career-high with six threes made on 10 attempts.

Two of Morris' threes came in overtime, including one with 38.5 seconds left to put the Wizards up by four. His role in closing out the win in Portland brought back memories of his game-winner in the same building in March of 2017.

Morris is one of the biggest wild cards on the Wizards because it's not always clear which version of him they are going to get. When he's at his best, he's hitting outside shots and playing physical defense. He did that and more on Monday night.

With Dwight Howard out, the Wizards need Morris to step up. Though he didn't exactly do that in their first two games, Morris came to play in this one.

Beal went off early: This game was billed as the return of Bradley Beal to the Moda Center where he dropped a career-high 51 points last December. It took him a bit to get going, but once he did, Beal caught fire and scored at a pace that for a while was reminiscent of that amazing night.

Beal had 19 points in the first half on 8-for-12 from the field and 3-for-4 from three. But then he cooled off a bit in the second half and finished with 25 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and one block. He had zero turnovers.

Beal has now scored at least 25 points in five straight games against the Blazers. Clearly, he likes playing in Portland but one reason for his success against them may deal with C.J. McCollum. 

Beyond the fact facing one of the best shooting guards in the NBA may bring the best out of him, Beal is a tough cover for McCollum because he's more athletic. He's a tick faster and can get higher on his jumpshot. 

McCollum is an underrated defender, but Beal kept him off balance with well-timed pump fakes and consistently got open off screens. Beal's points were mostly within the rhythm of the offense. He was moving consistently without the ball and using the smallest of separation to get his shots off.

Beal also deserves credit for his defense against McCollum. The Blazers star was limited to 13 points on 5-for-25 from the field and 1-for-9 from three. 

Damian Lillard also had a rough shooting night. He had 29 points, but on 7-for-21 from the field and 2-for-10 from three. Many of his points came at the free throw line where he went 13-for-15, 13 of his attempts in the first half.

Two centers are now hurt: The day began with head coach Scott Brooks sharing some bad news about Howard, who not only did not make the trip with the Wizards but is likely to miss at least several more games. Not too long into this game, they lost their backup center, too.

Ian Mahinmi was subbed out after getting two quick fouls and never returned. He went to the locker room to get treated with back spasms, leaving the Wizards perilously thin at the center position. They had to rely on Jason Smith and using forwards Markieff Morris and Jeff Green in small-ball lineups. Thomas Bryant still didn't get the nod.

Back spasms do not sound serious, but any time Mahinmi is unavailable puts a strain on the Wizards. It brings into focus the fact the Wizards have not one, but two roster spots currently vacant. 

 

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