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Morning tip: Wizards find blueprint to victory in a loss

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Morning tip: Wizards find blueprint to victory in a loss

Bradley Beal isn't in the mood to hear about quality losses, especially since the Wizards dropped their 26th game of the season on Wednesday night to the Golden State Warriors 134-121.

But he gets the overall point. 

“I went right into the locker room and I said, ‘Guys, if we play like this, and put it on the floor, we're gonna be really good.’ That's all you can ask for as a coach," said Don Newman, who has filled in for Randy Wittman the last two games while he's on personal leave. 

Against the NBA's best scoring defense, the Wizards shot 46 of 91 (50.5%). They assisted on 26 of those makes. John Wall scored a season-high 41 points followed by Beal's 18. 

“I hate losing," Beal said. "We did play hard. If we play like that every game, we should be able to beat everybody. We just can't show up against Golden State because it's Golden State. We have to be able to carry this out throughout the rest of the year. It's do or die.” 

The Warriors (45-4) are on a historic pace. The problems the Wizards have had all season when it comes to focus and effort didn't appear to be the issue. They made adjustments on Curry to trap the ball out of his hands when he scored 36 of his 51 points in the first half. But they just ran into a buzzsaw.

"We played with a lot of energy. We competed. I think we understood ... if we don’t play well we’ll lose by 50 or 60," Wall said. "It’s something we talked about at shootaround. I think we just need to take the way we competed tonight and do that the rest of the season no matter who we play. We give ourselves a lot of chances to win games and our defensive coaches are right, we just need to make some big plays.”

The Wizards practice this morning and have a winnable game at home vs. the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday followed by a few more heading into the All-Star break. 

“I still feel like we could have beat them, just sitting there reminiscing about everything. We still have opportunities to win. We could have eliminated his threes but he had a lot of them, he had a lot of cherry picks, he had a lot of open ones," Beal said of Curry shooting 11 of 16 from three-point range. " Of course he's gonna knock it down. I think we could have done a better job of taking everybody else away.

"If he's gonna have that many points, there's no way everybody else should have 20 or anywhere in the teens. We have to do a better job of knowing our personnel, but you have to give credit where it's due. They're a great team."

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Trading Jodie Meeks gives Washington Wizards much-needed salary cap relief

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Trading Jodie Meeks gives Washington Wizards much-needed salary cap relief

With a luxury tax bill of approximately $19 million on the way, the Washington Wizards gave themselves some salary relief on Monday by trading veteran guard Jodie Meeks to the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Wizards attached a future second round pick and cash to the deal and in exchange received a future second round pick of their own, NBC Sports Washington has confirmed. ESPN first reported the news.

Though Meeks, 31, was due to make $3.45 million this season, his departure saves the Wizards about $7 million because of projected tax penalties. That's a lot of savings in a deal that got rid of a player who had become expendable.

Meeks had fallen out of favor with the Wizards for a variety of reasons. He was due to serve a 19-game suspension to begin the season due to performance-enhancing drugs. The ban was announced the day before their first round playoff series against the Raptors was set to begin in April.

Meeks also underperformed last season in the first year of his contract with the Wizards and requested a trade in February. This summer, Meeks exercised his player option to remain with the team.

The Wizards were not likely to count on Meeks much at all this season because they traded for Austin Rivers in June to add depth at the shooting guard position. Meeks' role was made clear by the fact he did not appear in any of the Wizards' four preseason games against NBA opponents.

Meeks' tenure in Washington was a significant disappointment. The Wizards signed him last summer in hopes he could shore up the shooting guard spot on their bench. 

Though he stayed healthy for the first time in years, he never earned the trust of his coaching staff. The Wizards opted to rely more heavily on starter Bradley Beal, who logged the fourth-most minutes of any NBA player last season.

Now, they are moving on.

Meeks leaving the organization should have little effect on the Wizards, though it does leave them with a hole on their roster that needs to be filled. They currently have 13 players, one below the league minimum. The Wizards now have 14 days to add a 14th player.

They could sign a free agent, convert one of their players on two-way contracts (Devin Robinson and Jordan McRae) or make a trade. The Meeks deal gives them a $3.45 million trade exception.

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Dwight Howard practices for first time with Wizards, raising likelihood he plays in opener

Dwight Howard practices for first time with Wizards, raising likelihood he plays in opener

On Monday, for the first time since 2018-19 training camp began, the Wizards were complete.

Dwight Howard, who missed three weeks due to a strained piriformis muscle, participated in his first full practice with his new team. The 32-year-old signed a free agent deal with the Wizards in July, but had yet to take the court due to the injury, which began bothering him shortly before camp began on Sept. 25.

Howard had a setback on Oct. 6 and saw a specialist in New York. He received a pain injection on Tuesday and on Saturday began shooting again.

After clearing that hurdle, he was ready to be a full-go with his new teammates.

"It felt pretty good. I really gotta catch my wind and learn some of the offense. But other than that, it felt pretty good," Howard said of Day 1.

Howard practicing on Monday gives him two more days to work with before the Wizards open their season on Thursday at home against the Miami Heat. Both he and head coach Scott Brooks say it's too early to tell if he will be available.

"We'll see how it feels. I will do everything I can to make myself available for all 82 games," Howard said.

Howard not only has to play himself into game shape, he has to develop chemistry and timing with his new teammates. He missed all five of their preseason games.

If Howard can play, that would certainly be a positive turn of events for the Wizards. As of the end of last week, it seemed highly unlikely he would be ready when the regular season began.

But Howard turned a corner and now appears to be coming along quicker than once expected. 

"It was probably our best practice of training camp," Brooks said Monday after finally getting Howard into the mix.

"He has a natural feel. His IQ was pretty high, I was impressed with that. He picked things up."

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

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