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Bradley Beal's return helps key Wizards win over Knicks

Bradley Beal's return helps key Wizards win over Knicks

For Bradley Beal to make his return from right hamstring tightness on Thursday night, he needed the finishing touches of more than a week of treatment by the Wizards' training staff and one final test, a workout on the court at the Verizon Center about 90 minutes before Washington was set to tip-off with the New York Knicks. 

He also had within him an extra bit of motivation. Beal was already targeting this game to come back after missing three games, but what transpired the night before in Philadelphia left Beal even more determined to return.

Beal sat on the sidelines on Wednesday in Philly seething as the Wizards lost to one of the NBA's worst teams, the Sixers, knowing he could have helped if he was on the floor.

"I was real frustrated last night from our loss. I just really wanted a win," Beal said. "I wanted to come back today and hopefully, God willing, my body would feel good. And it did tonight."

Beal's return was integral in a 119-112 Wizards' victory against New York. He scored 18 points on 5-of-11 shooting with five assists in 29 minutes. He was 3-for-6 from three and a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line.

Beal helped orchestrate an impressive performance for the Wizards offensively. They shot 54.3 percent from the field and 60 percent (15-of-25) from three. 

For one night, everything clicked on both ends of the floor.

"It brings a whole different dimension to our team having Brad back," forward Markieff Morris said. "He's an elite scorer and a great defender. That made it easy for us to put the ball in the basket."

“It definitely opens it up for us. He gets so much attention, I think it helps everybody," forward Otto Porter said. "We need his ability to create for himself and create for others and knock down shots.”

Thursday night was also the first time this season that John Wall was available in the second game of a back-to-back set, and naturally the Wizards looked like a much better team. Though they are just 3-9 on the season, they are 3-4 with Beal and Wall in the lineup.

"It is good to have him back. Having Brad out there, we are a different team for obvious reasons," head coach Scott Brooks said. "We're a different team when we have all of our guys together. I don't use it as an excuse. I never told the guys 'hey, great game but too bad we lost and we don't have our guys.' I tell the guys that we have enough to win. But we are a better team when all of our guys are healthy."

The Wizards are off on Friday before hosting the Miami Heat (3-8) on Saturday night. Beal's hamstring, which he first tweaked on Nov. 9 against the Celtics, will still be monitored moving forward. Beal, in fact, had to play through some discomfort on Thursday night in order to return.

“It’s more of a mental thing, just being able to take some type of pain, some type of soreness. It’s tough with a hamstring because it’s not going to all the way clear up on you," Beal said. "You’re not going to go back to 100 percent, you’re going to have to work through some things. I was able to tolerate some soreness and stiffness and it actually feels a little bit better."

"We'll see how he feels tomorrow, but I don't anticipate any issues," Brooks said.

[RELATED: TAKEAWAYS FROM WIZARDS' BLOWOUT WIN VS. KNICKS]

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Watch Rui Hachimura’s shutdown block

Watch Rui Hachimura’s shutdown block

Rui Hachimura continued his dominance in international friendlies Saturday as he put up 31 points and five rebounds in a winning effort over Germany.

After a highlight-reel performance in Thursday's loss to Argentina, Hachimura was back at it two days later.

That block at the 37-second mark is just filthy. It would also be goaltending in the NBA, but FIBA rules allow players to touch the ball at pretty much any time once it's made contact with some part of the hoop. Nevertheless, the athleticism to make this play is what stands out.

But Hachimura wasn't finished.

He looks more like Steph Curry leading that breakaway, dribbling behind his back and finishing at the rim himself than a 6-foot-8 forward.

With the international friendly schedule at its end, Japan will tip off the 2020 FIBA World Cup on Sunday, Sept. 1 against Turkey. After a matchup with the Czech Republic, Hachimura and Japan will take on his future NBA opponents when they face the United States on Sept. 5.

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Maryland native Quinn Cook tells the behind-the-scenes story of his road to the Lakers

Maryland native Quinn Cook tells the behind-the-scenes story of his road to the Lakers

Before he joined the Los Angeles Lakers as part of a blockbuster summer that saw them land Anthony Davis, before he won the NBA Finals as a role player with the Golden State Warriors, and before he averaged double-digit scoring and won the NCAA tournament at Duke, Quinn Cook was a star point guard at DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Md.

Cook was in town this week for his fourth annual youth basketball camp at First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Landover. NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller sat down with the former Stag, who he’s known since the now-Lakers guard was 14 years old, on the Wizards Talk podcast.

Miller talked with Cook about why he feels connected to kids in the local community and what it was like losing his father as a teenager. One of his closest friends is fellow DeMatha product Victor Oladipo, who helped him get through the loss of his father Ted when he died suddenly in 2008 after going into a coma following a colon procedure.

“My best friend Norman and Victor, their parents took them out of school, and they were with me for two weeks,” Cook said. “At the funeral, [head coach Mike] Jones had the entire DeMatha basketball program…come to the funeral and all sit together [with] their uniforms on.”

Cook also went on to talk about his time at Duke, the viral video in which he convinced some people at the mall he was J Cole and his obsession with winning before going into how he landed in Los Angeles this offseason.

“When Golden State withdrew their qualifying offer, I became unrestricted and had some teams call me and the Lakers thing, it just happened quick,” Cook said. “I had talks with them, AD called me, [LeBron James] called Rob Palinka for me, and Coach K called them, talked to Bron and stuff and we got it done.”

Check out the full podcast below and listen to Miller talk hoops every week on the Wizards Talk podcast.

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