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Morning tip: Wizards putting too much pressure on themselves? Bradley Beal thinks so

Morning tip: Wizards putting too much pressure on themselves? Bradley Beal thinks so

The Wizards may be in a tough spot going down the stretch run of the regular season, but it's really not that much pressure for a team that didn't have high expectations placed on them externally coming into the season.

Despite a 2-8 start, here they are, a virtual lock for a top 4 seed in the East playoffs and a good chance to hold on to the third spot. 

They looked flat for most of Wednesday's 104-100 win over the Atlanta Hawks, coming back from a 14-point deficit to win at the Verizon Center with one more home game before emarking on their toughest road stretch. But the Wizards can't lose sight of the fact that they're in an enviable position and aren't far from contending with the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers above them. 

"It was just probably our swag," said Bradley Beal, who scored a team-high 28 points to go with nine rebounds as he described the difference in their fourth-quarter play. "We just started having fun. I felt like we were just tense with everything. We were afraid to make mistakes. We were passing up open shots, making too many passes. ... We were kind of all over the place in the first half. We just got back to having fun, getting after it on defense and of course that was leading us to easy buckets in transition."

Through three quarters, the Wizards (43-28) were shooting 25 of 69, or 36.2%. In the final 12 minutes, Markieff Morris made 4 of 5, Beal 3 of 4 and Kelly Oubre 2 of 3. 

They were 13 of 26, or 50%, in a 37-point fourth. Morris had consecutive baskets, the latter a reverse layup, when the Wizards pulled away at the mid-point. Beal had a steal that led to his own three-pointer in transition. 

John Wall blocked a jumper by Dennis Schroder and assisted to Beal in transition for a dunk. Wall completed a three-point play when he was fouled on a drive and then had a steal that led to his own dunk. 

When the flurry was over, the Wizards were up 91-80.

The Hawks were held to 34 of 86 shooting, or 39.5%. But the Wizards still will have to be better than this on both ends after Friday's home game vs. the Brooklyn Nets. 

They play at the Cavs on Saturday and then have challenging matchups with the L.A. Clippers, Utah Jazz and Golden State Warriors. The only soft touch on the trip is vs. the L.A. Lakers. 

Morris and Marcin Gortat also have to be more involved early for the dynamic offensive team they've been most of the season to return. While Gortat avoided foul trouble in this game, he never was totally in sync offensively and played 28 minutes. Morris picked up his third foul just seconds into the third quarter.

"We did a great job defensively, except for them making some tough threes at the end," Wall said. "We just have to do a better job of protecting the paint and if they do drive not foul them."

[RELATED: Wizards' Brooks has little sympathy in NBA rest debate]

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Jeff Green 'would love to come back' to Wizards, add stability to journeyman career

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Jeff Green 'would love to come back' to Wizards, add stability to journeyman career

With six different teams in the past five years, Jeff Green has become one of the NBA's most itinerant journeymen.

Including his early-career move from Seattle to Oklahoma City, when the franchise transitioned from the Sonics to the Thunder, Green has played in eight different cities. Among active players, only Ish Smith (10), Marco Bellinelli (nine), Shaun Livingston (nine) and Anthony Tolliver (nine) have played for more teams.

Being in Washington this past season, though, was different. That's because Green is from the area, having grown up nearby in Maryland. He starred at Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, then at Georgetown University in Northwest D.C.

At 32 years old (he turns 33 in August), Green does not prefer being a basketball nomad. He would like to stay with the Wizards this summer as he aims for a new contract in free agency.

"I would love to come back," Green said. "Great set of guys on this team. I loved playing with Brad [Beal], John [Wall]."

Green also mentioned playing for head coach Scott Brooks, for whom he played in Seattle and Oklahoma City. Brooks was an assistant on the Sonics staff when Green was a rookie, then took over as head coach in the middle of Green's sophomore season. Green left the Thunder after his third season and, 10 years later, was reunited with Brooks in Washington.

The biggest draw for Green to the Wizards, though, is the fact it is his hometown team. Though playing at home is a drawback for some players, Green found major benefits in being around family and in the town where he played college ball.

"Being in front of family every night was great for me. It allowed me to see my daughters more than a couple of times a year, which was great," he said. 

"Being in a familiar setting from my Georgetown days was great. Being able to go up to Georgetown and watch the guys get better, it was great. [Those are] things I haven’t been able to do since being in the league."

On the court, Green found individual success with the Wizards amid a disappointing season overall. He averaged 12.3 points and 4.0 rebounds while setting a career-high in effective field goal percentage (55.5). 

He did all of that while making the league minimum of $2.4 million. On a Wizards team that was in some ways defined by bloated salaries, Green proved a bargain. 

Hoping to come back to the Wizards was a familiar refrain from impending free agents during the Wizards' media exit interviews. Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker, Thomas Bryant and others all suggested they would like to return. 

But with a new front office leadership structure set to be installed, certainty isn't offered for anyone. For Green, the Wizards' new general manager will need to evaluate whether he was part of their problems. 

While Green probably exceeded expectations this season, he was on the floor when the team struggled to rebound the ball and defend just like his teammates were. The Wizards were 27th in the NBA in defensive rating this season at 112.8, according to NBA.com. Green's defensive rating was 112.6.

The Wizards and Green may ultimately not prove a fit in the eyes of the new GM. If that is the case, Green could move on to play in a new city, the ninth of his career. 

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Former Wizards Mike Scott, Jared Dudley deliver the drama in Sixers-Nets Game 4

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Former Wizards Mike Scott, Jared Dudley deliver the drama in Sixers-Nets Game 4

The 76ers-Nets playoff series has been wild from the start, but the trash talk and physical play reached the next level in the Sixers' Game 4 victory Sunday. 

The contest featured two ejections as well as a game-deciding shot with 19.7 seconds left in the fourth quarter. In the middle of it all? None other than Jared Dudley and Mike Scott, who played for the Wizards in 2015-16 and 2017-18, respectively. 

Tensions between Dudley and the Sixers had been simmering since he slammed Ben Simmons in the media after Game 1.

With 7:42 left in the third quarter Saturday, Joel Embiid committed a flagrant foul on Jarrett Allen under the basket. An incensed Dudley shoved Embiid, prompting Jimmy Butler to push Dudley away.

When Simmons to try to separate the two, he and Dudley got tangled up and tumbled into the front-row seats. Both Dudley and Butler were ejected on the spot. 

The Nets held a 67-61 advantage when Dudley and Butler were tossed, but that lead dwindled to one point with under a minute left to go. 

Brooklyn made the mistake of leaving Scott open in the corner, where Embiid set him up for a go-ahead three-pointer with 19.7 seconds remaining.

A pair of Tobias Harris free throws sealed the Sixers' 112-108 win, putting them up 3-1 in the series. Scott and company can finish off Dudley's squad in Game 5 on Tuesday. 

In the meantime, listen as Scott goes 1-on-1 with Chris Miller in the latest Wizards Talk Podcast. 

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