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How latest Wizards signing proves it's all about LeBron

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How latest Wizards signing proves it's all about LeBron

The signing of Alan Anderson, a 6-6 small forward who has spent six years in the NBA and four years abroad professionally, solidifies the Wizards' game plan going into the 2015-16 season: They wanted to accrue as much depth as possible to contend with LeBron James in the Eastern Conference.

The Wizards, CSNwashington.com confirmed from a person with knowledge of the situation, are signing him to a partial mid-level deal for one year at $4 million. Anderson, who will be 33, is a physical defender who averaged seven points in his last two seasons with the Brooklyn Nets and shoots in the mid-30s from three-point range. The Wizards already have Otto Porter (6-8), drafted Kelly Oubre (6-7), acquire Jared Dudley (6-7) when free agency opened last week and now Anderson.

MORE WIZARDS: TWO PATHS, ONE NBA DREAM

As CSNwashington.com reported Sunday, the Wizards were intent on loading up on wing players to contend with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who won the Eastern Conference last season. The Golden State Warriors, who beat them in the finals, had success by throwing multiple wing defenders at him: Andre Igoudala, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green. All three also had three-point range and wore down James who was rarely as good in fourth quarters.

The Wizards now have 14 players under contract and $1.5 million remaining from their mid-level exception that they can apply to another player. Drew Gooden, who has played the last two seasons with the Wizards, could complete the 15-man roster or it would be left open.

Last season, the Wizards kept open 15th spot for flexibility going into training camp and as late as the trade deadline in February. But going with Anderson instead of Gooden shows that he was more of a priority -- because of his ability to defend the wing -- over a 6-10 power forward such as Gooden who also had three-point range.

And, of course, Anderson's deal doesn't tie up money for the summer of 2016 when the Wizards plan an all-out strategy to go after Kevin Durant and reconstruct the roster around him.

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Five observations from Wizards' 119-109 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, including Dwight Howard's injury

Five observations from Wizards' 119-109 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, including Dwight Howard's injury

The Washington Wizards lost to the Portland Trail Blazers 119-109 on Sunday night. Here are five observations from the game...

Not good: It just keeps getting worse. The Wizards have been playing a sleepy, uninspired brand of basketball in recent games and on Sunday they met a Blazers team that does just the opposite.

The result was probably predictable. Though the Wizards edged the Blazers last month in Portland, this time they lost a game that was nowhere near as close as the final score suggested. 

Portland led by as many as 29 points and the Wizards only cut that down late when head coach Scott Brooks emptied his bench. He brought in a host of young guys who were hungry and just happy to be playing like Troy Brown Jr. and Thomas Bryant. Hopefully the starters, who have been missing those qualities, were paying attention.

These teams are currently on two entirely different trajectories. The Blazers are trending up, while the Wizards, who have lost two straight, are sliding quickly.

Washington is now 5-11 on the season. That's worse than their mark at this point two years ago when they mounted the famous comeback.

Howard hurt again: Things were already going terribly for the Wizards when they got much worse. Dwight Howard, who was coming off a huge game against the Nets, left in the second quarter after aggravating his strained piriformis muscle injury. 

Howard, of course, missed the first seven games of the year with the injury, which has also been referred to as gluteal soreness. We knew he was still dealing with discomfort when he came back and it has never really gone away.

The injury affects his ability to run and jump. He can't even sit on the bench because of the pain. The fact it's bothering him enough to leave a game is a really bad sign.

Too many fouls: Just like last game, Howard found himself entangled in foul trouble and this time he got started earlier. By the midway point of the first quarter, he had two. By the 5:30 mark of the second quarter, he had three.

At least against the Nets on Friday, Howard was effective when he was on the floor. This time, he couldn't find a rhythm. His time on the court was basically a wash.

These two games show just how easy it is for Howard to rack up fouls and how much it hurts the Wizards when he gets in foul trouble. 

Horrid start: The Wizards have had some lifeless stretches this season, far too often for the talent they have on the roster. The way they began this game was them at their absolute worst.

They just couldn't keep up with the Blazers, who were zipping the ball around the court to find open shooters. Portland built a 20-point lead in the first quarter, 32-12, as they shot 7-for-9 from three. The seventh was a wide open look by C.J. McCollum.

That's C.J. McCollum, as in one of the best shooting guards in basketball. Somehow the Wizards completely lost him and paid for it. Those are the types of plays that are hard to excuse.

Bright spots: If there were any positives to draw from this game, it was the play of Kelly Oubre Jr. and Tomas Satoransky. Neither shot the ball well, but their energy and effort were noticeable on a night when most of their teammates just didn't have it.

They were among the few Wizards players active on defense and closing out on the three-point line. They helped key a 13-0 run to end the first quarter and helped the team show some life in the second half when the game was already out of hand.

Oubre finished with 19 points, four assists, four rebounds, and three blocks. He was +14. Satoransky had 10 points, seven assists and was +22. If Brooks wants some more energy from his team, those two could provide it.

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Dwight Howard leaves Wizards-Blazers game after aggravating lower muscle injury

Dwight Howard leaves Wizards-Blazers game after aggravating lower muscle injury

While down big against the Blazers on Sunday night, matters got even worse for the Washington Wizards as starting center Dwight Howard exited the game after aggravating his piriformis muscle injury.

Howard initially left the game midway through the second quarter due to foul trouble. Soon after, he went to the locker room with a trainer to get treatment. Howard was clearly frustrated as he walked through the tunnel.

Howard, 32, missed the first seven games of the season due to the injury, a strained piriformis muscle. He was sidelined for all of training camp and the preseason.

The piriformis muscle is located just below the back. Howard has battled discomfort while running, jumping and even sitting while dealing with the injury.

Even when he returned, he told reporters the pain had not completely subsided.

Howard left Sunday's game with two points and three rebounds in seven minutes.

More on this story as it develops...

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