Wizards

Thunder-Clippers Preview

Thunder-Clippers Preview

The Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers own the NBA's top two records, yet both are coming off losses.

One of them is about to have the makings of a losing streak.

Oklahoma City continues its season-high six-game road trip Tuesday night at Staples Center where the Clippers will try to avoid their second set of back-to-back losses this month.

The Thunder are a league-best 32-9 but its six-game win streak was snapped with a 121-118 overtime loss at Denver on Sunday. Kevin Durant scored 37, setting a personal best with four straight contests of 30 or more points, while Russell Westbrook had 36.

The Thunder, who trailed by 11 with three minutes left in regulation before coming back to force overtime, had been 20-5 when both scored at least 20.

Westbrook has been nearly as spectacular as Durant of late, averaging 33.8 points over his last four games. He had seven turnovers against the Nuggets after having only five in his previous three games, but still flirted with a triple-double, adding nine assists and eight rebounds. He was also crucial in forcing overtime, scoring seven points over the final three minutes of regulation, including the game-tying 3-pointer with 23 seconds left.

The point guard's 8.3 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game are all career-bests.

"He plays, he competes, he does everything that we ask," said coach Scott Brooks, who was coaching a day after his mother, Lee, died on Saturday. "He improves every year. He plays defense at a high level. He's a two-way player and I don't know if there's a better one in the league that can do both of them."

The Clippers (32-10) had a four-game winning streak stopped in a 106-99 loss at Golden State on Monday. Chris Paul - in his second game back after missing three with a knee injury - finished with a season-low four points on 1-of-7 shooting, though he also recorded nine assists. Coach Vinny Del Negro said Paul's status would be reevaluated for Tuesday's game.

"You could see he doesn't have that extra burst like he usually has," Del Negro said. "It's nice to have him out there because he settles everything down. It's just that he can't play at the level he's used to with the injury."

Jamal Crawford bounced back from a seven-point, 3-of-13 shooting performance in the previous game with 24 points, including a season-best six 3-pointers.

Los Angeles held a seven-point lead with 11 minutes left, but missed all four free throws in the fourth quarter. The Clippers also allowed Stephen Curry to go 4 of 4 from 3-point range in the final 12 minutes.

After Golden State connected on 12 of 22 from long range, the Clippers will need to tighten up defensively against the Thunder, who rank among the league leaders in 3-point percentage (38.8). They went 11 of 23 from beyond the arc in a 117-111 victory on Nov. 21 in the teams' first meeting this season.

Paul struggled in that loss, scoring nine on 2-of-14 shooting, though Blake Griffin had 23 points. Durant scored 35 in that game but missed 19 of 26 shots.

The Clippers have won four in a row at home against the Thunder.

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Don't expect Bradley Beal to request a trade from the Wizards

Don't expect Bradley Beal to request a trade from the Wizards

Bradley Beal made headlines on Friday afternoon when he said in an All-Star Q&A that he wants to stay with the Wizards for many years to come, that he hopes to “retire in this jersey” and that he is “all about loyalty.” 

That suggested he will not become the next NBA star to request a trade. But the topic of a trade request was never actually discussed.

So, a few hours later, NBC Sports Washington caught up with Beal for a 1-on-1 interview at the All-Star Celebrity Game to expand on those thoughts.

Beal explained in detail why he has no plans to ask the Wizards for a trade, and how he doesn’t envision a scenario where that could happen.

“I mean, look where that’s gotten a lot of guys now. It doesn’t always play out in your favor,” he told NBC Sports Washington.

“So, I’m thinking like what good could that bring me? In my head, that’s just more turmoil for the team. It’s another distraction."

Beal, 25, has two years left on his contract with the Wizards. He is due $27.1 million next season and $28.8 million for the 2020-21 campaign.

Beal was picked third overall by the Wizards in the 2012 NBA Draft. He has since developed into a two-time All-Star and has helped lead the Wizards to the playoffs four times in the past five years.

This season, however, things have gone south for the team. John Wall was lost for the year due to a torn Achilles and Dwight Howard has appeared in only nine games due to back surgery. 

The Wizards have made five trades since training camp, including ones to ship mainstays Otto Porter Jr. and Markieff Morris out of the organization.

They are currently 10 games under .500 at the All-Star break, which has put the spotlight on Beal’s future. The formula for a blockbuster trade usually includes a star on a losing team, and Beal fits the bill.

Beal, though, can already imagine the drawbacks of requesting a trade. He sees the mess that Anthony Davis and the Pelicans are dealing with in New Orleans and doesn't want that for himself.

"I always feel like if I requested a trade, and I didn’t get traded, there’s no way in hell I’m gonna be able to go and play with my teammates who know I don’t want to be here. That’s mind-boggling to me," he said.

People change their minds, and Beal very well could. But he insists he has no thoughts of leaving the Wizards and says the speculation can effectively end.

“Until the team doesn’t want me anymore, I’m gonna be here,” he said. “I’m here. I’m a Wizard, day in and day out. They pay me and I have to show up and do my work. Until that changes, that’s who I’m loyal to.”

 

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Bryce Harper slid in to Rhys Hoskins' latest Instagram and we're kinda worried

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Rhys Hoskins / Instagram

Bryce Harper slid in to Rhys Hoskins' latest Instagram and we're kinda worried

No one knows when Bryce Harper will sign a contract – perhaps not even Harper himself – but he is fueling speculation every chance he gets.

 

The Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins posted a picture from the team’s spring training site in Clearwater, Florida.

 

View this post on Instagram

missed this walk to work🌴

A post shared by Rhys Hoskins (@rhystothehoskins) on

 

This itself is not newsworthy. Plenty of players have posted pictures of their arrivals at spring training. Scroll through the comments, however, and you will notice that Harper commented “Suhhhhh kiiiiiiid.” This comes one day after Hoskins commented on a Valentine’s Day post by Harper dedicated to his wife, Kayla.

 

View this post on Instagram

My Funny Valentine!😂🥰 #Greys

A post shared by Bryce Harper (@bharper3407) on

 

The Phillies are among the teams rumored to be potential suitors for the 2015 NL MVP. Does this mean Harper is going to sign with one of the Nationals’ biggest rivals and remain in the NL East? No idea. But Harper is doing a good job of holding onto everyone’s attention while he remains undecided.

 

This is not the first time Harper has fueled speculation via social media.

 

Hoskins posted this picture on Instagram back in December, with the caption “loading…”

 

View this post on Instagram

loading...🔋

A post shared by Rhys Hoskins (@rhystothehoskins) on

 

On Super Bowl Sunday, Harper tweeted this:

 

 

This week, Harper unfollowed a number of Washington Capitals on Twitter, according to Caps winger Tom Wilson:

 

 

In January, MLB The Show’s twitter account posted a series of simulations showcasing how some team’s seasons might look with Harper in the fold. He quoted some of those tweets with some cryptic emojis:

 

 

That same account also tweeted “You'll want to keep an eye on this account tomorrow... just saying,” back on January 28th.

 

 

This fueled speculation that the video game’s cover would be released the next day and Harper, as the cover athlete, would reveal his destination by appearing on the cover in his new team’s uniform. The cover was released, but it featured Harper in a plain white hoodie.

 

For now, Harper watch continues. As a matter of fact, you should go ahead and refresh your Twitter and Instagram feeds – odds are he posted another cryptic tweet or comment while you were reading this.

 

 

 

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