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Morning tip: Otto Porter awakens but for how long?


Morning tip: Otto Porter awakens but for how long?

The call for a consistent third scorer has gone unanswered for the Wizards for most of the season, with the anticipation that Otto Porter would rise to the occasion.

Dormant for most of the calendar year, he dropped 21 points in Sunday's 113-99 win vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers. He made three consecutive three-point shots to start the third quarter, helping Washington almost double what had been a 63-54 lead in less than two minutes.

“It definitely felt good. Just knocked down shots. ... Defense kind of got us started though," said Porter, who shot 6 of 9 overall to go with five rebounds and three assists. "We were able to get stops and rebounds and push on the break. I know John (Wall) got a couple easy ones and he was just able to find everybody.”

Porter hasn't produced like this since Feb. 6 when he had 20 points and eight assists in a loss to the Charlotte Hornets. Eighteen of those points, however, came in the second quarter. Porter was absent in the other three in what should've been a career output. Sunday's result was just his second 20-point game since Jan. 1.

“He can’t fall back into playing 28 minutes and having one or two shots," said coach Randy Wittman, who has been unhappy with the small forwards' lack of aggressiveness on the offense end for most of the season. "He’s too good. He’s too good. It hurts our team when that happens. So let’s keep him there.”


In consecutive games a week ago, Porter only took three shots. With Bradley Beal now coming off the bench because he's still on a minutes restriction, the Wizards have had to rely heavily on Wall and Marcin Gortat to carry the offensive load. Sometimes, Jared Dudley steps in to fill in as the No. 3 option because he's a top-5 three-point shooter in the NBA. Garrett Temple has started for Beal at shooting guard but to expect him to provide bucks consistently each game isn't realistic, either. 

That's why Porter, who is in his third NBA season and starting for the first time, is being looked to even more. Alan Anderson is now playing behind him off the bench, too, so his minutes will take a hit. But it's what Porter does with those minutes that matter.

Porter is more of a mid-range shooter but is expected to make corner threes in this offense. He's shooting just 33.3% from the arc but tied a career high for makes by shooting 4 of 6 against Cleveland. 

Porter isn't comfortable just catching and shooting the ball while standing still. He prefers to be moving to get a rhythm on the shot which proved to be the difference. He also avoided the bad habit of looking down at his feet to make sure he's behind the line before shooting.

“It was great. He got us off to a great start in the third. He was really shooting it with confidence and we just need him to continue to do that," Beal said of Porter. "He is definitely capable of it, and that is the guy that we have seen all year and that we have been hoping for, and we just need him to continue to be aggressive and I am sure he is going to do it.”

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Dwight Howard improving, but status still unknown entering Wizards' season opener


Dwight Howard improving, but status still unknown entering Wizards' season opener

Dwight Howard may play in the Wizards' regular-season opener on Thursday night against the Miami Heat, but the team will not know until the day of the game and likely won't announce the decision either way until head coach Scott Brooks addresses the media about two hours before tipoff.

Howard only has three practices under his belt but has made significant progress throughout this week after missing all five of the team's preseason games due to a strain in his piriformis muscle.

Head coach Scott Brooks said Howard has looked good in those three practices but has a lot of missed time to make up for.

"I think he's definitely winded at times, but that's part of it," Brooks said.

Brooks added that Howard is not getting the same lift when jumping that he's used to. Howard, 32, is used to playing above the rim and his vertical leap is an important part of his game.

The Wizards play their first two games at home, the second on Saturday against the Raptors. They then embark on a Western Conference road trip beginning with the Blazers on Monday.

Brooks said Howard will "definitely" make that trip with the team, which gives a good indication of how close he is to returning to game action. When Howard is ready to play will be left up to the team's medical staff.

If Howard does miss time, the Wizards are expected to rely on his backup Ian Mahinmi as the starting center. Jason Smith would then become the No. 2 center on the depth chart, though they could use forwards like Markieff Morris or Jeff Green at the five-spot.

Howard signed a two-year free-agent deal worth $11 million to join the Wizards in July.


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John Wall and Bradley Beal will depend on each other more than ever in year 7

John Wall and Bradley Beal will depend on each other more than ever in year 7

The Wizards will only go as far as John Wall and Bradley Beal take them. There's just no other way around it.

The chemistry between Wall and Beal has been the dominant topic for years surrounding this team, and the magnifying glass will only be pushed closer this season, despite all of the other additions the Wizards made this offseason.

It's all about the backcourt. 

Luckily, both Wizards All-Stars understand and embrace the pressure. 

"We're opposites, but we're the same in a way," Beal told NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller. "He's more loud and outspoken, I'm more chill and relaxed, but you put us together, it's peanut butter and jelly."

Have you noticed that peanut butter and jelly always seems to be the go-to "good combination" for people? At least Beal didn't say something weird like tuna and bananas, although to each his own if that's what you like.

Anyway, more importantly, Wall understands this sandwich dynamic just as much as Beal does. Especially when the topic of a championship comes up. 

"I couldn't get it without him, and he couldn't do it without me," Wall said.  "I think that's the bond we have built, and it's gotten so much better each year."

One of the biggest reasons for divorce that we see in pro sports is ego. So many players don't understand what Wall alluded to. No matter how good you are, you can't do it alone. You need your wingman.

There were certainly rumblings or worries that Wall and Beal had their issues chemistry-wise earlier in their careers, but we're seeing two young stars grow as each season passes. 

That doesn't mean there still won't be times where they don't click. That's natural.

Keep in mind though, this is the seventh season the two will play together. The NBA is known to chew up and spit out young, inexperienced teams. The grind is part of the journey. Wall and Beal have had playoff success and failures, but they went through it together.

Now comes the time where those learning experiences become something they grow from, and use it to fuel a push to their ultimate goal – a championship.

And maybe a better peanut butter and jelly sandwich.