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Morning tip: Defensive inadequacies unravel Wizards on 0-2 road trip

Morning tip: Defensive inadequacies unravel Wizards on 0-2 road trip

When the Mavericks made 16 three-point shots last year, it was because Wes Matthews was hot.

The Wizards didn't have the personnel required to defend the arc consistently and the opponent was just a better team at that time. 

Fast forwards just more than a year. In their first meeting of this season, the 10-win Mavericks didn't need Matthews making 10 threes. He only made two. But the rest of his teammates converted 15 more in a 113-105 win Tuesday at American Airlines Center. For the first time in a long itme, Wizards coach Scott Brooks was beyond agitated by what he witnessed.

"We got outworked. I haven't said that a lot this year with our team," said Brooks. "They were moving the ball. We were hoping they would miss. Not doing a very good job of making them miss."

The Wizards (16-18) head back to Verizon Center on a two-game losing streak after a back-to-back set. They also had games on the table late that they could've/should've won at the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs but failed to execute to end regulation.

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This region of the West hasn't been kind to Washington, now 3-12 on the road. They've yet to beat a team from the West there.

When they're playing well, the Wizards can score with anyone because of John Wall and Bradley Beal. But if their bench isn't productive, they have to be more connected defensively to make up the difference. 

Dallas, which had 17 points from Devin Harris and 16 from Seth Curry off the bench, scored 43 points. It was similar to what Eric Gordon did en route to a season-high 31 points for the Houston Rockets in a 101-91 win vs. the Wizards on Monday.

Gordon made 6 of 12 threes in part because the Wizards lost containment. When Nene would swoop to the rim, they'd suck in to try to stop the 7-footer who has trouble finishing in traffic. That would open up Gordon at the arc for wide-open looks on the extra pass. 

The game in Dallas wasn't much different.

"We were defending with no purpose. We were giving open looks from the three-point line. They made 17? They could've made 30," Brooks said. "Unacceptable how we played."

Beal had 25 points and had plenty of clean looks from deep as the Mavericks' defense was nothing to brag about either. But he didn't make his, going just 3-for-11 though his last make cut the deficit to 110-105 with 2:12 left. "We just showed spurts of playing solid defense, palying well. We couldn't get stops. We just keep shooting oursevles in the foot by our defensive efforts."

The Mavericks are the NBA's worst-scoring team, 95.6. The Miami Heat were in a similar position earlier this season and scored 114. The Orlando Magic, too, and they dropped in 124. 

While the offensive explosiveness has been better than anyone could've expected, the defensive problems were unforseen. Brooks has emphasized that side of the ball since the first day of training camp, and with Markieff Morris instead of Jared Dudley as the starting power forward the Wizards have the capability of being better defensively. And better at rebounding. It hasn't happened. 

"We felt like we could just beat them. We had a great situation, a great opportunity to come in and take advantage of it and we didn't," said Beal, who led an inspired effort at the end of the first half as the Wizards wiped out a 58-47 deficit with a 22-5 run. "We just didn't get stops when we needed to."

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Washington Mystics set WNBA record for most 3-pointers in a single game without Kristi Toliver

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Washington Mystics set WNBA record for most 3-pointers in a single game without Kristi Toliver

WASHINGTON – Shey Peddy rarely gets to see the floor as a part of the WNBA-leading Washington Mystics. Sunday was only the 10th game of her WNBA career, playing in garbage time of what was going to be another dominant Mystics victory. 

She only managed three points on one made basket, but it was perhaps the biggest basket of the night. As Peddy, 30, caught a pass at the wing in her right hand, she quickly squared up and delivered a 3-point basket for Washington. It was the Mystics’ 18 such basket from range on the day, a new WNBA record. 

This is just the latest in the plethora of record-breaking performances for the Mystics in 2019. A massive 107-68 victory over the Indiana Fever is starting to feel habitual for those in the Entertainment and Sports Arena. More records falling on a daily basis.

Which, by the way, winning by 39 points also gave the Mystics their 11th win of 20 points or more to build on their current WNBA record. There are seven games still left on the schedule.

“When you shoot 39 threes and make 18 of them and you have 30 assists for the game, coach has to be pretty happy,” Mystics head coach Mike Thibault said postgame. “The world looks really good when you’re making shots.”

Even more impressive is that the Mystics accomplished such a feat without one of their star players Kristi Toliver. Entering the contest she had made the second most 3-point baskets on the team and did so at a 36% clip. But had the Mystics had Toliver, Peddy would not have been in the lineup. She recently signed a seven-day player contract with the team to fill Toliver’s roster spot. 

Production was from all corners of the roster to set the 3-point mark. Ariel Atkins and Aerial Powers both had four each from long range as the bench added six.  Emma Meesseman, who came off the bench, led the unit as they combined for 36 points. 

In total, nine of the 11 eligible players on the gameday roster made a 3-pointer, with all 11 scoring a point. The only one who didn’t get one long ball attempt was center LaToya Sanders.

While the team was unaware of the record, they consciously knew that Sanders was the only one who didn’t shoot a 3-point shot.

“We’re going to get [LaToya] to shoot one. I’m going to give it to her real late in the shot clock, watch,” Natasha Cloud said postgame. 

The center has attempted two threes in her entire seven-year career. 

Like all games throughout the season at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Southeast D.C., there was a match lit underneath the Mystics (20-7) in the opening moments of the contest. They jumped out to a 24-4 lead over Indiana and held the Fever without a basket from the floor for the first seven minutes. 

An admirable 13-0 run by the Fever (9-17) momentarily made it a game in the second quarter. However, right after the spark the Fever’s top player Candice Dupree exited the game with a finger injury. She spent the rest of the game courtside sporting a splint. 

Elena Delle Donne contributed to three of the team’s recording-breaking 3-point baskets. She also recorded her 11th game with 20-plus points as she led all scorers with 25. 

In addition to the setting the WNBA’s 3-point record, having nine separate players hit one also set another record. Recording 30 assists put them two shy of another single-game high. 

It all came as the Mystics closed their toughest stretch of 2019: three games in five days. Their next goal? Rest, and they’ve earned it on their six-game winning streak.

“We can’t take our foot off the gas no matter what. Once we clinched a playoff spot, we didn’t come into this game thinking ‘alright let’s relax.’ We came into this game, ‘okay let’s continue to separate ourselves.'” 

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Los Angeles Lakers request permission to meet with Dwight Howard

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Los Angeles Lakers request permission to meet with Dwight Howard

No, this isn't 2012. Yes, the Lakers are interested in Dwight Howard.

The Lakers are scrambling to find a replacement at center after newly acquired big man DeMarcus Cousins suffered a torn ACL in a pickup basketball game last week.

The Wizards traded Howard to the Memphis Grizzlies last month for veteran wing CJ Miles, but he's expected to be released. 

Howard is no stranger to L.A., as he spent the 2012-2013 season with the Lakers after a blockbuster four-team deal shipped him out of Orlando. The Lakers went 45-37 that year, and Howard signed with the Houston Rockets the following offseason. 

Although he was named an All-Star in 2012, Howard's stats took a notable hit. He averaged 17.1 points on 57.8 percent shooting while grabbing 12.4 rebounds. During his last season in Orlando he averaged 20.6 points on 57.3 percent shooting, while grabbing 14.5 boards. It was the first time Howard hadn't averaged at least 20+ points per game since the 2009 season.

Howard attributed a lackluster season with the Lakers to "injury," which can also be said about his time in Washington. Howard only played nine games with the Wizards due to a lingering lower-back injury, but his name stayed out of headlines. 

A healthy Howard is still a viable option down low. In 2017 Howard started 81 games for the Charlotte Hornets while averaging 16.6 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks. However, the key word is healthy. 

When Howard signed with Washington last year he presented this soliloquy at his introductory press conference:

"I learned Magic for eight years. Traveled to La-La Land. Learned how to work with Rockets. I went and learned to fly with some Hawks. Got stung by the Hornets — just a joke. But through all of that, it’s taught me how to be a Wizard.”

If Howard and the Lakers do agree to a deal, the real question is: What will he say at the next press conference?

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