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Morning tip: Pressure lightens for Wizards' starting 5 to be great every time

Morning tip: Pressure lightens for Wizards' starting 5 to be great every time

LOS ANGELES -- During their previous five-game road trip, the Wizards were able to pull out four heart-stopping victories with two of them comebacks in overtime.

That was two weeks go, and they've begun this one by upsetting the Clevlend Cavaliers on their home floor.

What set up that 127-115 win Saturday was what took place Friday in the first game of a back-to-back.

They routed the Brooklyn Nets 129-108 in a game in which they never were threatened. No starter played more than 24 minutes. That made it easier for the reerves to step in.

"We really locked in, did our job, got the guys some extra minutes rest and it paid off," coach Scott Brooks said. 

This is how elite teams are able to develop their benches heading into the postseason. The Wizards (45-28) didn't have thier leading bench scorer, Bojan Bogdanovic, vs. Cleveland because of lower back stiffness the following night but that was OK.

Second-year forward Kelly Oubre filled that void by shooting 7 of 8 for 16 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Jason Smith continued to show three-point range and an ability to switch onto perimeter players. His play gives Brooks options in the middle behind Marcin Gortat. He can go to Smith or starter Markieff Morris with his smaller lineups or Ian Mahinmi who is a traditional big.

They Wizards have been able to win with Gortat, Morris and even Otto Porter not producing the type of offense now that they posted before the All-Star break. More than any other team in the NBA, all starting five for the Wizards have posted more double-digit scoring games than any other in the NBA. Gortat has stuggled the most and has seen his minutes reduced significantly.

"You don’t need everybody to play at a high level offensively. They just have to play at a high level energy and commitment, focusing on doing the things to help the team win. It’s not about  minutes," Brooks said. "I keep telling all of our guys, 'If you want minutes, you just play well. You get extra minutes. And if you play we’ll you’re still going to get some sub time.'

"We have a good bench and we’re going to use it. Ian has done a great job. Jason has done a good job. It’s not what March has done. He hasn’t played well but our guys have stepped up and played well but he’s going to bounce back."

The Wizards scored 40 points in the first quarter in Cleveland. John Wall set the tone by pushing the tempo even when they didn't have numbers in transition and still got uncontested layups.

Tuesday, it's a game at the L.A. Lakers in the first game of a back-to-back. They should put them away early, too.

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Kemba Walker, Bam Adebayo among players to call Bradley Beal the biggest All-Star snub

Kemba Walker, Bam Adebayo among players to call Bradley Beal the biggest All-Star snub

There have been so many people to come to the defense of Bradley Beal after the Wizards star was snubbed from the All-Star game. His fiancee, agent, teammates and even his alma mater's mascot have in some form expressed their frustration with the NBA coaches not voting Beal in as a reserve. 

Generally speaking, they're all supposed to defend him. But what about those who made it instead of Beal?

In a video produced by Bleacher Report, several NBA All-Stars and All-Star Saturday night participants gave their take on who they thought was the biggest All-Star snub. 

To me, I think Brad," Celtics star Kemba Walker said. "I know it's tough and they select with team records and things like that, but I definitely think Brad Beal should be here. No question."

Beal is averaging 29.1 points heading into the break, which marks the highest scoring average for a non-All-Star ever. World B. Free was the previous record holder from the 1978-19 season. 

"I feel like Bradley Beal is having an incredible year," Heat center Bam Adebayo said. "I feel like he should've been one of those guys who, off the strength of the players, I feel like he shoulda been here. But, I mean, yeah, I feel like it's [because] of his record, but you know, his performance is incredible and I think he's an All-Star."

During voting for the All-Star starters, Beal came in ninth among Eastern Conference guards for the fan vote and fifth in the media vote. But the players had him second, which would have had him starting in the game Sunday night. 

So it's not all that surprising that the players acknowledge Beal as the biggest All-Star snub this year. Maybe the league can get back on track and get him there next season, because there are more than a few players who made it this year who Beal's easily had a better season than. 

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Former Wizard Marcin Gortat announces retirement

Former Wizard Marcin Gortat announces retirement

Long-time NBA veteran, and former Wizard, Marcin Gortat is retiring from the NBA, the center announced in a video via the Polish news station TVP.

At 35-years old, the big man had been out of the league this season following spending 2018-19 with the Los Angeles Clippers. In the video, Gortat mentioned that he gave himself the year off to weigh his options, and he now realizes it is the right time to hang it up.

A 12-year career, the "Polish Hammer" was a consistent and reliable force down low for the four teams he played for. Some of his best years came in D.C. with the Wizards. In five seasons with Washington from 2013-18, Gortat averaged at least 10 points in four seasons and played in at least 75 games in all five campaigns. 

His time with the Wizards also included three trips to the postseason. Gortat was traded to the Clippers for Austin Rivers following the 2018 season and was waived in February of 2019. 

An intense competitor, some NBA players have already begun to share their appreciation for Gortat, and more are sure to chime in.

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