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Morning tip: Making the most of a less efficient bench on the road

Morning tip: Making the most of a less efficient bench on the road

Scott Brooks went back to a common saying about the Wizards when they play lackluster on defense like they have for the last five games.

“At times,” the coach said after a 119-104 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, “we hoped that they missed instead of making them miss. When you do that you’re not going to have success in this league.”

And yet, the Wizards (41-25) still went 4-1.

While Otto Porter, Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris didn’t always play their best, the reserves again were key in getting them the distance they needed to close games or getting them back in it as they did Monday in helping erase a 21-point deficit to Minnesota. They just couldn't finish off the last one.

“We dug ourselves a hole and a second unit came in and dig a great job of getting us back into the game,” Wall said.

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After Jason Smith didn’t play in 4 of 5 games, Brooks relied on him for 23 minutes in a comeback win over the Phoenix Suns.

Smith was 6 of 7 for 17 points in what was his best performance on the trip. He didn’t play in the next game, at the Denver Nuggets, but went 4 of 4 in 23 minutes, and then 0-for-1 and 2-for-3 in the last two in which he played 8-9 minutes. Smith made all three of his three-point attempts on the trip.

Ian Mahinmi shot a combined 14-for-19 (73.6%) and had seven more rebounds three times in averaging 20 minutes per game. His low-post defense and ability to defend away from rim was needed for versatile bigs like Karl-Anthony Towns.

Bojan Bogdanovic averaged 15.8 points but saw his efficiency shooting dip to 42% (23 of 55). From three-point range, he had two games where he shot 0-for-5 and 1-for-6. But he manufactured his offense from the foul line, going 16-for-16 in one game.

Brandon Jennings still hasn’t found his shot. He missed all eight of his three-point attempts and has yet to make one with the Wizards. He had 22 total assists, however, averaging 13.4 minutes behind Wall.

Tomas Satoransky has played spot duty. He didn't exceed eight minutes in any game but was a solid ballhandler and defensively which helped them get back into games. He only took four shots, making two.

The biggest dropoff came from Kelly Oubre, who played double-digit minutes just twice on the trip, ending with just 39 seconds of action in the final game. The last time he scored in double digits was Feb. 6 in the home loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

RELATED: JOHN WALL THE EAST'S TOP PLAYER AGAIN

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

The 2018 NBA offseason in just three weeks has become one of the wildest summers in the league's history between LeBron James signing with the Lakers, and all the characters that followed him, to DeMarcus Cousins surprising everyone to sign with the Golden State Warriors, to Kawhi Leonard getting traded to the Raptors.

As crazy as it all has been, two teams in the Eastern Conference stand out for so far doing very little, either by choice or circumstance. The Celtics and Sixers, the two teams most see as the favorites in the East, appear at least so far to be running it back with the same group of players.

This appears to be the Celtics' intention. After overhauling their roster last summer, they clearly see an opportunity to take a step forward as-is. Boston was one win away from the NBA Finals and will return Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving from injury. With James gone to the West, they can improve significanly just by keeping it all together.

Boston re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes. Their biggest addition this summer so far has been their first round pick, Robert Williams.

The Sixers, unlike the Celtics, didn't appear to plan on doing it this way. They wanted James and missed out. They reportedly had interest in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, but both went elsewhere. There are no stars left to sign in free agency and the trade market may be drying up.

Philly made some minor moves like trades for Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala. They may also have a deal for Kyle Korver in the works. They also had two first round picks in Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet.

There's a chance the Sixers got better than people think, as many of the moves they made seem smart. But they didn't reel in a big fish and will probably come back for the 2018-19 season with a team very similar to the one that made the second round of the playoffs this spring.

The fact the Celtics and Sixers may stand pat is probably a good thing for the rest of the East. Both teams may improve naturally if they are healthier and if their young players continue to ascend. But neither made a game-changing addition, one that would solidify either as an unstoppable superteam in the conference. 

The West is overloaded with title contenders and All-NBA players. The East, meanwhile, is much more open and it may end up staying that way mainly because Boston and Philly have been quiet so far this summer.

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Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld has stayed relatively busy this summer crafting his new-look lineup for the 2018-19 season. 

One of the team's key additions, Dwight Howard, is set to be introduced as a member of the Wizards on Monday. 

NBC Sports Washington will air the introductory press conference live at 1 p.m. while also streaming it online.  

Ernie Grunfeld and head coach Scott Brooks are both expected to be in attendance. 

The 32-year-old big man is coming off a 2017-18 season with the Charlotte Hornets in which he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. 

Since leaving the Orlando Magic after eight seasons in 2011, Howard has played for four different teams in the last six years. 

Howard is an eight-time all-star and a three-time defensive player of the year. 

 

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John Wall's take on Dwight Howard 

Wizards make Dwight Howard free agent signing official 

By the numbers: Is new Wizards center Dwight Howard still in his NBA prime?