The attention paid to John Wall and Bradley Beal all night made it rather easy for Otto Porter to get off a career-high eight three-point shots. The Orlando Magic were daring someone else to beat them.
It was Porter, who knocked down two big deep balls in Friday's 94-91 win over the Orlando Magic, to give them that third scorer with Beal under wraps. None was bigger than the two he buried in the fourth quarter to twice cut the deficit for the Wizards (5-9) to one at 80-79 and 83-82 and prevent Orlando from pulling away at Amway Center.
Wall did the rest in closing out the game with game-highs of 25 points and 10 assists to go with seven rebounds. He scored their last seven points.
"Throughout the whole game I had guys 6-8, 6-9 on me. I'm every bit of 6-4 on a good day," said Beal, who only had 14 points on 15 shots coming off a career-high 42 vs. the Phoenix Suns. "That's a great sign. If they're going to do that then we have advantages in other places. I feel like those are some of their best defenders trying to take me out of the game, John had a great game, March had a good game, Otto stepped up big too. I love it like that whenever I can get guys involved. My biggest thing is making sure (Evan) Fournier didn't score. That was most important to me."
Fournier shot just 2-for-9. While he defended Beal, so did Jeff Green with Nikola Vucevic loading up on him in support. Aaron Gordon logged time on Beal, too, surprisingly playing shooting guard.
The changing looks created an open for Porter to not just score but create. Green went back to Porter, who ran the screen-roll action Gortat and found his big with a pinpoint pocket pass for a layup at 2:31 to put the Wizards ahead 86-83. It was all the cushion they needed.
"They put a bunch of athletes on the floor," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "We were able to sustain their run and make big shots when necessary."
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One of the best parts of the NBA offseason, behind free-agency and the draft, has to be the open run's that go on all summer long. These sessions give an opportunity for NBA players to team up with each other, while also playing alongside high school, college, and overseas talent.
Some new Wizards teammates, Isaiah Thomas and Thomas Bryant, made their way to the Rico Hines private run in Los Angeles, California to establish some chemistry before training camp opens in late September.
As seen above, IT is no stranger to sharing the sugar as he finished top 20 in the league in assists per game (5.9) in 2016, the last season he was fully healthy. While TB is one of the most efficient rim-runners in the league, leading the NBA in two-point field goal percentage (68.5) last season.
Could this be a preview of what to expect come season's tip? Wizards fans sure hope so.
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The Wizards sought to add an assistant coach with a strong defensive track record this offseason and they did just that Saturday evening by hiring Michael Longabardi, according to NBC Sports Washington’s Chase Hughes.
Longardi, 46, has spent the last three seasons as a defensive coach on the Cleveland Cavaliers' staff. He was initially hired by former Cavs' head coach Tyronn Lue in 2016 when the team claimed their first championship in franchise history.
Before joining the Cavaliers, Longabardi held assistant coaching roles with the Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets, and most notably the Boston Celtics, in which he and Lue served under head coach Doc Rivers and Tom Thibodeau from 2007 to 2013.
Longabardi was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and attended Xaverian High School, a private Catholic school. He then went on to play basketball at Newberry College where he earned the nickname "Mr. Defense."
Just a day after reports broke that Tommy Sheppard would be promoted to a permanent general manager position, the organization is making yet another move in hopes of improving overall culture and team defense.
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