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Morning tip: Wizards prepare for another 3-point shooting center with Nets

Morning tip: Wizards prepare for another 3-point shooting center with Nets

The way the Brooklyn Nets are using Brook Lopez will force the Wizards' hand to defend the 7-foot center on the perimeter. It's another assignment for Marcin Gortat, who has gained a lot of experience with that recently, in Monday night's game at Barclays Center (CSN+, 7:30 p.m. ET).

"He's going to have the same issues," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said about his 6-11 center. "Brook shot nine or 10 three-point shots in the last two games. I don't think he touched the paint."

In fact, Lopez has attempted 33 three-pointers in the last four games combined. That's an average of eight per game.

Lopez already has shot 102 in just 17 games. In his previous eight seasons combined, he shot 31. 

The Wizards have faced more spread fives than they probably were prepared for going into the season. Marc Gasol forced overtime with a long ball in what would be a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies and DeMarcus Cousins posed serious challenges though the Sacramento Kings fell short. 

Lopez isn't the most athletic big man, but he still averages 19.6 points and shoots 37.3% from three. His rebounding has dipped (5.2) to a career low for a full season. 

"I'm goiing to stay away from the rim. I got to guard him," Gortat said. "I'm 100 percent sure he's got to guard me, too. I'll do everything necessary to make him work defensively. We all know he's going to take 15 to 20 shots. We just got to accept that. We got to make sure he's going to miss as many as possible."

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Damian Lillard and Paul George trade jabs on social media after Blazers-Clippers

Damian Lillard and Paul George trade jabs on social media after Blazers-Clippers

It's well documented that two of the NBA's biggest stars, Damian Lillard and Paul George, are not the best of friends.

Last May, Lillard's Blazers eliminated George's Thunder in five games, with the Portland star hitting a 37-foot game-winner over George to win the series. After Lillard hit the shot, he waved goodbye to the Oklahoma City bench as his teammates mobbed him in celebration. Following the game, George called Lillard's bucket a "bad shot." Lillard balked at that claim, asking how it was a bad shot if the ball went in.  

Nearly 15 months later, Lillard and George's beef has returned. On Saturday, Lillard had the opportunity to give Portland the lead over George's Clippers with just 15 seconds remaining. However, with the Blazers down just one, Lillard missed both free throws. Los Angeles would hold on and win, with both George and Clippers guard Patrick Beverley mocking Lillard from the bench.

After the game, Lillard was asked about Beverly and co.'s antics, and the Blazers star had quite the response.

"Asking me about Patrick Beverley, who, I sent him home before at the end of the game," Lillard said. "Paul George just got sent home by me last year. So, they know."

Bleacher Report reposted Lillard's quote on Instagram, which got both Beverley and George to respond. Beverley joked "Cancun on three," referencing that Portland's season would be over soon. George directly responded to Lillard's comment about sending him home, saying "And you getting sent home this year. Respect."

Of course, Dame wasn't going to let either one of them get the last word. Lillard responded to George's comment, calling out the star for continuing to change teams.

George, of course, asked to be traded to the Clippers this offseason to pair with star Kawhi Leonard just one summer after signing a long-term extension with the Thunder. Meanwhile, Lillard has spent his whole career thus far in Portland, turning the Blazers from an annual lottery team to a contender in the West.

George responded once more, saying he achieved more success with his first team, the Pacers, than Lillard has in Portland. That can be debated, but neither star has led their team any further than the conference finals.

The whole conversation was captured by many and has been reposted all over social media.

The two teams won't meet again this season unless they matchup down the road in the playoffs. The Clippers currently sit in the No. 2 spot in the West, while Portland is on the outside looking in on the playoff picture.

However, the Blazers have looked as good as any team in the bubble thus far, in large part due to the return of big men Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins. In a year where seeding doesn't really matter, there's always a chance these two teams play each other once again. And what a sight that will be if it happens.

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Three remaining questions for Wizards in NBA's restart as they battle the Thunder

Three remaining questions for Wizards in NBA's restart as they battle the Thunder

The Wizards continue their schedule in Orlando with a battle against Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. Here are three questions for the Wizards as they play their third-to-final game of the season...

Can they get a win?

The Wizards do not have a chance to make the playoffs anymore after losing on Friday night to the Pelicans. It was a disappointing result for the team, although one most of us expected. With no Bradley Beal or Davis Bertans, their odds were long in the first place, and the grading scale has been more about player development, anyways.

But now there is a distinct possibility they leave the bubble without a single win. They went 0-3 in the exhibition schedule and have now lost their first five seeding games. They have three opponents left and they are all teams with top-10 records in the NBA: the Thunder, Celtics and Bucks. A win against any of those teams would qualify as an upset, though they have already beaten two of them this season; the Thunder and Celtics.

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Can Brown be a point guard?

Most of the Wizards' roster questions in Orlando as they pertain to next year fall into gray areas, but one involving Troy Brown Jr. is very specific. Whether he can serve as a back-up point guard in the Wizards' rotation is worth wondering about, as his passing and play-making abilities have been so impressive in the bubble that it seems imperative the Wizards incorporate that part of his game more moving forward. But whether they can maximize those qualities when he's sharing the floor with Beal and John Wall is hard to decipher, as both of them are high-usage players and will need the offense run through them.

Whether Brown can play some point guard behind Wall could determine some of the Wizards' offseason needs and it could have a direct effect on Ish Smith's role, as he currently projects as Wall's back-up. There are, however, two factors to consider in this. One is that the Wizards will need three capable point guards next season anyways with Wall coming back from an Achilles surgery. He is likely to be on a minutes limit to start and it seems certain he won't be playing back-to-backs, at least in the beginning. The other element here is the upcoming NBA draft class. It is loaded at point guard and combo guard. The odds of the Wizards being on the clock with the best player(s) available being point guards seem high. If their first round pick is a point guard, it would throw a wrench into all of these potential plans.

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Is anyone playing their way off the roster?

The Wizards are embracing their inclusion in the NBA's restart because of the opportunity it has provided for player development. They are getting guys experience they would otherwise not receive and it has allowed them to experiment with players in new roles. Brown closing the game against Indiana as a point guard is a good example of something that would otherwise not happen if this regular season was normal.

But they are also evaluating who to keep and who not to and it's fair to wonder how much the production, or lack thereof, from their players will determine those decisions. Ultimately, it is an eight-game snapshot when these guys have the rest of their 2019-20 seasons to present as data. If the Wizards do put major importance on how players are faring in Orlando, then that is not a good sign for guys like Moe Wagner and Admiral Schofield. The good news for anyone who is struggling is that they will have another three-plus months to train for next year once the offseason arrives next week.

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