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Morning tip: Bojan Bogdanovic jump-starts bench revival for Wizards

Morning tip: Bojan Bogdanovic jump-starts bench revival for Wizards

TORONTO -- The basket never has looked as wide open for Bojan Bogdanovic as it did Wednesday, when he drained a season-high six three-point shots. In a span of 89 seconds in the second quarter, he single-handedly floored the Toronto Raptors who never could recover.

John Wall had his 39th double-double with 12 points and 13 assists and Bradley Beal had 23 points despite shooting just 1-for-6 from three, but the second unit led by the Bogdanovic delivered the Wizards a 105-96 victory at Air Canada Centre.

"With John and Bradley sometimes they're trying to force them to take tough shots and sometimes they screw up on the switch," said Bogdanovic, who was 9-for-12 shooting overall for a game-high 27 points. "That allows me to be wide open like in the second quarter a couple times."

The Wizards (36-23) were intent on not having a lifeless performance after they squeaked out a 112-108 win over the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday on the second game of a back-to-back. 

"I thought the guys did a good job of just taking care of business," coach Scott Brooks said. "We approached every possession right, with professionalism, moving the basketball, 30-something assists on 40 field goals is probably as good as we can play offensively."

Given that Bogdanovic hasn't had a lot of practice time, he has had to learn how to play with his new teammates on the fly. Since ball movement is the cornerstone of the offensive success of the Wizards this season, the transition has been relatively easy.

"We just had to simplify the game for him and coach did that perfectly," said forward Markieff Morris, who had five assists himself. "He made it real simple for him. He made a lot of wide-open shots. A lot of guys are capable of getting him the ball."

It wasn't just Bogdanovic. Jason Smith, who had played just four minutes in the previous three games, keyed the spurt. He made all four of his shots in 10 minutes to finish with eight points, five rebounds and two assists. 

The player who displaced Smith in the rotation, Ian Mahinmi, was an eraser inside as he played a season-high 21 minutes. Mahinmi was 0-for-3 shooting but had five rebounds, three assists, one steal and three blocked shots. Kelly Oubre only shot 2-for-8 for his seven points, but his defense on DeMar DeRozan and hustle plays contributed to holding the Raptors to 33-for-90 shooting, or 36.7%. Tomas Satoransky only had one point but he ran the offense. He had five rebounds, three assists and a steal in 18 quality minutes. 

[RELATED: VIDEO: John Wall blocks Raptors big man Serge Ibaka]

"Bojan played great," Smith said. "Ian was defending, protecting the rim. Tomas was going out there he was working the ball left and right, running the plays and just getting guys open. We had a great second-unit effort. That's for sure."

Bogdanovic was one short of tying his career-high for made threes. He has appeared in four games with the Wizards since being acquired in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets last week, but in the last three he has shot a combined 12 of 19 from three-point range, or 63.1%. 

Leave Bogdanovic alone and he'll make defenses play. Try to close him out too strongly on the perimeter, Bogdanovic can beat defenders off the bounce and finish through contact at the rim.

"You never know who is going to be our leading scorer," said Wall. "He's a guy that can come off pindowns, shoot the ball very well. We do a great job of spacing floor and he's able to get wide-open looks. We have to be able to knock down shots. He also is able to make plays off the dribble. I think that's what's helping us out, having us a go-to guy we can go to a little bit in the second unit."

Brooks was in such good spirts he went out of his way to praise president Ernie Grunfeld for the move. 

"The staff did a good job of putting us in a position of getting a guy like Bojan," Brooks said. "Solidifies our scoring off our bench."

And a win over the Raptors on Friday at Verizon Center can create breathing room for the Wizards in the East. 

[RELATED: Brooks reacts to Wizards signing Jennings, cutting House]

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Three things to watch for Wizards vs. Nets, as Wizards aim for fourth straight win

Three things to watch for Wizards vs. Nets, as Wizards aim for fourth straight win

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Dwight Howard and the Washington Wizards battle Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen, D'Angelo Russell and the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

Here are three things to watch...

Wizards are on a roll

Say what you will about the opponents they've beaten, but the Wizards are heating up. They have won three straight games with their last one a blowout over the Cavs. This is their longest win streak of the season.

Four in a row would be a nice number. The Wizards only had two win streaks of at least four games last season. One stopped at four and the longest ended at five. 

Nets have their number

Speaking of last season, the Wizards had a heck of a time facing this same Brooklyn team. They lost two of their three meetings in 2017-18 with the lone win coming in overtime. One of their losses was by 35 points.

The Nets, though they haven't won 30 games in each of the past three seasons, are now pushovers. They are well-coached by Kenny Atkinson and are known for trying very hard despite their lack of talent. The Wizards generally have problems with those types of teams. Winning this game could help them prove this is a new year.

Nets have some players now

Brooklyn has been ridiculed in recent years as the Boston Celtics have reaped the benefits of their high draft picks stemming from the infamous Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett trade. But along the way, the Nets have done a decent job of finding young talent without hitting the lottery.

Caris LeVert was probably the best example of that, though he is now nursing a serious ankle injury and will miss this game. But Brooklyn also has guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who this year is averaging 14.2 points and 4.2 assists while shooting 47.5 percent from the field and 38.2 percent from three. They also have Joe Harris, who is putting up 13.4 points on a ridiculous 52.4 percent from the field and 52.6 percent from three. 

Then there's Jarrett Allen, who was acquired using a first round pick the Wizards sent Brooklyn in the Bojan Bogdanovic deal. At just 20 years old, he's turning into a nice young player. This year he's averaging 11.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks.


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Austin Rivers wants to interview Jay-Z and Barack Obama; still can't get John Wall on his podcast

USA Today

Austin Rivers wants to interview Jay-Z and Barack Obama; still can't get John Wall on his podcast

Just one episode into his new podcast 'Go Off,' Wizards guard Austin Rivers is already learning plenty about the media world. With plans to become a television analyst when his playing days are done, Rivers is gaining a new appreciation for what it takes to speak at-length without stumbling over his words.

He's also starting to realize one of the biggest pain points for a media member: waiting on guests. Rivers has tried to line up interviews with his teammates and it's been much easier said than done.

Rivers is set to have Dwight Howard on as his first guest, but the original plan was point guard John Wall. Wall, though, has been giving him the runaround.

"That's the hardest thing is getting guests to show up," Rivers said. 

"It's impossible to get John on my podcast. At this point, I just don't expect it anymore. He says he'll do it next week and then the week comes. John has like 15 things to do a day. I don't know what these guys do. I play in the league, too. I know how un-busy my life is outside of this. And I've got a kid. John has a brand to run. He's a different level. Sorry, you can see the frustration on my face with not getting John on my podcast, man."

Rivers hopes to have many of his teammates on. He mentioned Kelly Oubre Jr. and how an interview with Oubre "might be a little out there." He also gave a hint about what his conversation with Howard will be like.

"I'm definitely gonna have some interesting topics to bring up with Dwight. I told him 'listen, you might want to check with your publicist before coming on my podcast.' We only talk about real conversations on here," Rivers said.

Rivers says he plans to start with fellow NBA players and then work in special episodes with guests outside of the league and even outside of basketball. He hopes to record an episode with financial advisors to talk about money and investments. He wants to take a deep dive into the AAU circuit and how it can be fixed.

Eventually, Rivers wants to aim very high with his guests. He gave a list of his dream interviews and there are some big names.

"Kobe Bryant or Dwyane Wade. Dwyane Wade is my favorite player. I'm gonna get Dwyane Wade on my podcast, for sure. I'm gonna go ahead and put that out there," Rivers said.

"Off-the-court, I would love to get Denzel Washington on there. That would be my dream... I want to do a podcast with me and my dad and Jaden Smith and Will Smith. I think that would be really dope, talking about parent-to-son success and how he related to his son to have a work ethic and how my dad did it to me."

Rivers went even higher. He wants to interview a president.

"I guess if I could go the highest, I would go Jay-Z or [Barack] Obama. But let's be realistic, here," Rivers said.

"[Interviewing Obama] would be incredible, bro. I would be so nervous. I'm not there yet, I'll be honest. I need like six or seven or eight more podcasts before I can get Obama on there because I'm gonna be stuttering. I can't do it with Obama yet. I don't know if I could handle Denzel right now."