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Morning tip: 50-plus wins, No. 2 seed finally look realistic for Wizards

Morning tip: 50-plus wins, No. 2 seed finally look realistic for Wizards

There are two numbers that matter most to the Wizards, and that's 50 and two. Bradley Beal has his sights set on both after opening a five-game road trip with wins in a back-to-back. 

The Wizards (39-24), who haven't won 50 or more games since 1979, have been perfect in four consecutive back-to-backs after Wednesday's 123-113 rout of the Denver Nuggets. 

"It was a goal of mine coming into the year for the team to get 50 wins. Be a playoff team again. We're on track for it," said Bradley Beal, who had 23 points and five assists. "That won't make us. That won't define us as a team to be a part of history, having a 50-win season. I think we have the team to be able to do so. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doesn't."

With two more wins, the Wizards will equal their total from a 41-41 non-playoff season a year ago. They play at the Sacramento Kings and at the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday and Saturday. They end the trip Monday at the Minnesota Timberwolves. 

They're No. 3 in the East and tied in the loss column with the No. 2 Boston Celtics (41-24), who beat the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday. To unseat Boston, the Wizards have to play better defensively than they've started on this trip because they have the tougher schedule to end the season.

The pivotal game to decide the season series, which will be crucial if there's a tie at the end of the season with the Celtics, is March 20 at TD Garden. 

"I think it's important especially if we make it out the first round having that home court in the second round and see where you go after that," Beal said of the No. 2 spot behind the Cleveland Cavaliers. "We love our chances. Our job is to win. Where it puts us a the end of the year, we'll let the chips fall where they may." 

In the Wizards' two playoff seasons in 2014 and '15, they were a No. 5 seed so they opened on the road and didn't have home court. Still, they pulled off upsets of the Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors but ran into the No. 1 seed in the East in the second round to end their run. 

[MORE WIZARDS: Bojan Bogdanovic is a perfect fit for set-up artist John Wall]

By finishing as high as No. 2, they could avoid the Cavs until the conference finals if everything in the earlier rounds go according to plan. 

The Wizards have been an offensive juggernaut. In beating the Nuggets and Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, they've scored 254 points. But those teams don't defend like the Celitcs and are among the NBA's worst defenses.

Denver shot 53% overall (46 of 87), including 46.4% from three (13 of 28). The Suns shot 50%, making 44 of 88 shots that included 13 of 27 three-pointers (48.1%).

"We got to find a way when we get up 20-something points," said John Wall, who had 30 points and 10 assists vs. Denver. "Our defense started to (lag). Not playing with the sense of urgency that we played to get to that lead. That's something that we have to figure out, do a better job of because when we get to the playoffs you want to be able to get those guys out of the way and not give them any life. We gave them a little bit of life."

The Nuggets never regained the lead after falling behind by 24 points. But they made it more tense than it had to be late on several occassions. Phoenix erased a 22-point deficit, took an 11-point lead and eventually lost. 

The Wizards recently had to come back from 17 points down to beat the Orlando Magic, a team that's not in their class.

So while a win is a win, they have to develop better habits with three road games left at the Sacramento Kings, at the Portland Trail Blazers and at the Minnesota Timberwolves. 

"We just had some slippage on defense again," Beal said. "It almost cost us."

[RELATED: VIDEO: Morris ejected for kicking Plumlee in groin]

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NBA draft lottery 2020 to be held virtually amid coronavirus pandemic

NBA draft lottery 2020 to be held virtually amid coronavirus pandemic

The NBA offseason arrives later this week and will speed up soon not long after with the Aug. 20 draft lottery, which will be held virtually this year.

The news it is being held virtually, which was first reported by the Athletic, was a fairly obvious expectation. All 14 teams participating will do so remotely via a video feed. That's the way many events are being held amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Wizards have the ninth-best odds in this year's lottery. That gives them a 4.5 percent chance at the No. 1 overall pick and a 20.2 chance to select in the top four.

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The top eight teams in the lottery are the Warriors, Cavs, Timberwolves, Hawks, Pistons, Knicks, Bulls and Hornets. The Warriors, Cavs and Timberwolves are tied for the best odds to get the No. 1 pick.

There is no consensus top player in this draft. Mock drafts have rotated through a few players at the top. The big names include James Wiseman, Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball.

The Wizards will need some luck to move up and have a chance to get one of them.

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Michael Jordan competes in White Marlin Open in Ocean City for second consecutive year

Michael Jordan competes in White Marlin Open in Ocean City for second consecutive year

Michael Jordan has proven time and time again that no opponent is too challenging for him.

Even in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and Hurricane Isaias, Jordan’s love for competition prevailed as he was spotted in Ocean City, Md. this past weekend competing in the White Marlin Open, a deep-sea fishing competition, for the second consecutive year. 

If basketball, football, baseball and golf weren’t enough, the six-time NBA champion has now become a regular competitor in the world’s largest billfish tournament. After he entered the competition in 2019, he was the weekend’s star even without the winning catch.

In the weeks leading up to the 2020 competition, rumors began to circulate about whether the sports icon would appear on the eastern shore again. When his plane was spotted at Salisbury-Ocean City Wicomico Regional Airport last week and his boat Catch 23 was registered, excitement began to grow from fans and fellow anglers.

In the competition’s 47th year, Jordan’s boat was spotted as one of 433 to enter the competition. His is an 80-foot Viking, which displays the print matching his Air Jordan 3 sneakers that he wore during the 1998 NBA All-Star game.

The tournament features competitions in fishing for tuna, dolphins, blue marlins, wahoos, sharks and white marlins. Due to the effects of the hurricane, the competition spanned from Aug. 3-9, an extension from its normal five days. This year, the White Marlin Open set a record for the most money ever awarded with a collective $6.8 million distributed to the winners.

The top $1.85 million prize went to Brandon Golueke from Ocean City for a 97-pound white marlin. The fish was the third largest white marlin in competition history.

While Jordan and his Catch 23 crew were unable to bring home the top prize again this year, he has proven he has a promising future in angling. Back in June, his boat brought in a 442.3-pound marlin on the second day of the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament in Morehead City, N.C., which earned fifth place that day and ninth place in the tournament overall. 

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