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Morning tip: Bradley Beal doesn't have to take last shot because he creates for Wizards, too

Morning tip: Bradley Beal doesn't have to take last shot because he creates for Wizards, too

The last time Markieff Morris had a chance to win the game at the end for the Wizards, he had a wide-open three that hit the back of the rim in a loss at the Orlando Magic.

He has redeeemed himself. plenty of times since then, including clutch free throws in to hold off the Golden State Warriors and then what he did vs. the Portland Trail Blazers.

That miss in Orlando came in just the fifth game of the season, when the Wizards were a very different team (and without John Wall). Saturday, it was their 65th when Morris buried a pull-up jumper with 0.4 of a second left for a 125-124 overtime win.

Their weapons are multiplying with Otto Porter and Bojan Bogdanovic also capable in similar situations.

Morris' shot was all net. There was more time (6.8 seconds) to set up the final shot compared to Orlando when Morris missed (0.8 of a second).

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"It was a redeemer for him," said Bradley Beal, who caught the inbound pass off a curl and found Morris spotting up in the corner for thie assist.

"It was a great play drawn up. I knew they were keying on me."

The execution went perfectly, unlike in early-season losses at the Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs when the Wizards had chances to clinch road games but didn't. 

They either didn't make the shot or were forced to take a more difficult look because the play broke down on a poor route run by Beal or a poor screen set by Morris to free him to catch the ball. 

Porter, who was the inbounder and almost always is, found Beal with a crisp pass and they got the play underway without a hitch. That allowed Beal to survey all of his options as he got away from Allen Crabbe who trailed him but faced Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic helping to stop his drive to the rim. When Mo Harkless converged as well as he left Morris in the corner, that opened the door for the pass and the finish.

The Wizards (41-24) have jumped the Boston Celtics in the East standings and have drawn even closer to the Cleveland Cavaliers who lost Sunday. They're now just two games back of the No. 1 seed. 

"It's almost like we won a championship," Beal said of the atmosphere at Moda Center following the lastest win. "We were throwing water around the locker room, beating down lockers, it was electrifying. It was exciting."

While that might sound extreme, it's a steppingstone in the evolution under a young backcourt of Wall and Beal.

They didn't have a good track record of closing out games like this. But Wall hit a game-winner to beat the Chicago Bulls on Jan. 10.

It's not about Beal or Wall forcing the shot for the sake of saying they took the shot. It's about getting the best shot available provided the play execution is sound. Otherwise it becomes a broken play such as the off-balance heave from Porter vs. the Thunder that went awry.

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It wasn't that the Wizards weren't trying to get the ball to Beal because he's likely to draw the most defenders, he's good enough off the dribble to beat the coverage, he can finish through contact and has the play-making ability to set up a teammate if all else fails. But coach Scott Brooks cleared the strong side of the floor for Beal to exploit Portland's defense that was destined to suck in and help on the drive. Morris was the beneficiary.

"That just shows our will to not quit," said Morris, who was short on words after the 21-point comeback that ended in controversy because replays showed his left foot stepped out of bounds. "That's what we did."

Even if the Wizards were to lose tonight's game at the Minnesota Timberwolves to end a five-game road swing, they will have set a new standard. They haven't gone 4-1 on such a trip since 1973, but if they do win it will be the first time they went undefeated in five consecutive road games, according to the team's PR staff. 

 

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Wizards vs Clippers Game: TV Channel, Live Stream, how to watch

Wizards vs Clippers Game: TV Channel, Live Stream, how to watch

Ridden with injuries, the Wizards are making the most of their lineups and squeezing out victories every chance they get.

The Clippers have an eye for winning lately, and will put up a tough fight at Capital One Arena for Sunday evening's show to go with your dinner.

Here's all the information to tune in.

WIZARDS vs CLIPPERS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards vs LA Clippers, Game 22

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: Sunday, December 8, at 6:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Wizards vs Clippers will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards vs Clippers on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS at HEAT TV SCHEDULE

5:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)

5:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE)

6:00 PM: NBA: Los Angeles Clippers @ Wizards (LIVE)

8:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live (LIVE)

9:00 PM: Wizards Talk (LIVE)

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Rui Hachimura may have had his best NBA game yet against the Sixers

Rui Hachimura may have had his best NBA game yet against the Sixers

WASHINGTON -- When Wizards coaches and executives rave about Rui Hachimura's potential to be a two-way player, they mean he can play just like he did on Thursday night in the team's 119-113 win over the Sixers.

It was arguably Hachimura's best game yet as an NBA player, a well-rounded performance of 27 points (11-18 FG), seven rebounds and two steals. He didn't set career-highs in any major category, but he was effective on both ends of the floor.

On offense, he lived in the midrange, making the Sixers pay for leaving him open from 15 to 20 feet out. He had 15 points in the second quarter alone.

And on the other end, he did an excellent job playing team defense. He kept an eye on his man while also knowing when to strike on double-teams.

Add it all up and even Hachimura believes it was probably his most complete game so far.

"I think it might be," Hachimura said. "I helped the team defensively and offensively."

There was one play on defense that stood out that didn't show up in the box score. The Wizards employed double-teams on Sixers star Joel Embiid all night and in the second half Hachimura charged in to help with Embiid in the post. He swatted at the ball with perfect timing to bounce it off Embiid's knee and out of bounds for a turnover.

It was the type of play that displayed Hachimura's instincts for team defense. And though it may take time for him to develop into a reliable on-ball defender, like most young players, he can be effective by doing things away from the ball just like that.

Brooks is already seeing rapid defensive improvement from Hachimura, who led the team in deflections (four) and contested shots (12).

"They have two guys that are incredible at shot fakes [Embiid and Al Horford], and we all know that he's had some problems with that early in the year. But the last couple of games, especially tonight, he has stayed down on all those shot fakes. So that's another growing area of his game on a defensive end," Brooks said.

Offensively, though, is where Hachimura is shining most so far. And after scoring 27 against the Sixers, he is now averaging 22 over his last four games while shooting 54.4 percent. His 14.1 points per game average on the season is fifth among rookies and his 5.7 rebounds per game are second. He also has the highest offensive rating (112.9) in his rookie class.

Hachimura has to learn to be more consistent, like most rookies, and especially on defense. But the potential for him to be a two-way player is certainly there, as he showed on Thursday night.

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