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Two big names still up in the air for Monday as Wizards weigh option of resting starters

Two big names still up in the air for Monday as Wizards weigh option of resting starters

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- With the chase for a 50-win season still alive for the Wizards, though their seeding is no longer up for grabs, coach Scott Brooks said Monday morning that John Wall and Otto Porter will be game-time decisions.

If Wall (left thigh) and Porter (back spasms) can go, the regular starting five will begin tonight's game vs. the Detroit Pistons, who are playing their final home game at the Palace of Auburn Hills before relocating to downtown next season.

"I'm going to do what's best for our team, not what's best for our record," Brooks said. "Right now we're locked in. If we had a chance to move up obviously things would be a little different. But we're not going into the game where we're just going to relax, let the game come. That's an ugly look. We'd love to get 50. If it doesn't happen, like I told the guys, if we end up with 48, 49 it's a great regular season. We won our division.."

Wall had treatment Sunday and Porter went through shootaround and stayed later to work on his shot.

"I want to get to 50 wins, for sure," said Wall, who took a knee from Willie Reed in Saturday's loss to the Miami Heat. "We know we have a position locked. If I'm healthy enough to play, I'm going to play. But if it's sore enough that I can't run I don't want to jeopardize injury."

[RELATED: Tougher matchup for Wizards: Cavs or Celtics?]

Brooks said he will keep down the minutes of his starters regardless of who plays, so having them play 30 minutes or more is unlikely.

"Whoever plays tonight you still want to play well," Brooks said. "Play our minutes hard. We do want to get a pretty good run. Take it serious because we have playoffs right around the corner."

Here is a closer look at each Wizards starter...

John Wall: Missed two games. Both were schedule rests on back-to-backs since he was coming off surgeries to both knees May 5. He also had been playing under minutes restrictions. He averages 36.4 minutes per game, seventh-most in the NBA, behind LeBron James, Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler and James Harden. 

Bradley Beal: Missed a career-low four games. Last sat out Dec. 30 in a game vs. the Brooklyn Nets because of a sore ankle. He missed three in a row early in because of a thigh strain. He averages 34.9 minutes per game, 17th-highest, behind Damian Lillard, Paul George, Giannis Antetokounmpo, DeMar DeRozan and C.J. McCollum. 

Otto Porter: Missed one game though that's a bit misleading. Porter played in games that he didn't return in because of ailments several times but didn't miss the next game as a result. He appeared to get hurt two games ago in a loss vs. the N.Y. Knicks and didn't return to action after 22 minutes. He sat out vs. the Heat with back spasms and has had soreness in his right hip on and off this season. Still, his 32.8 minutes are a career-high. 

Markieff Morris: Missed five games because of foot and ankle soreness (both) since he went down in a game Dec. 12. His 31.3 minutes per game are just shy of a career-high average. 

Marcin Gortat: Hasn't missed a game but has seen his minutes cut signficantly since the All-Star break. Averages 31.4 minutes after being on a career-high pace of 34-plus. In the last 15 games, playing just 23 minutes per game with the emergence of Ian Mahinmi behind him.

[RELATED: Should Wizards' starters play or rest before playoffs?]

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Beal makes his case in win over Cavs

Beal makes his case in win over Cavs

The Washington Wizards beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 124-112 on Thursday night. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

1. Just before tip-off, the NBA announced it's 2019-20 All-Star starters and not included in the Eastern Conference backcourt was Bradley Beal. Boston's Kemba Walker and Atlanta's Trae Young instead got the honors.

Whether Beal knew that fact when he took the floor or not, he put in a performance against the Cavs that should add to his case for being a reserve. The two-time All-Star followed up a 38-point gem against the Heat with 36 points against Cleveland just one night later. He also had eight assists and shot 15-for-22 (68.2%) from the field and 4-for-8 from three.

Beal now has the fourth-most 30-point games in the NBA since the start of last season with 40 of them. Only James Harden (86) Gianiis (54) and Damian Lillard (45) have more.

This 30-point game helped the Wizards bounce back from a loss the night before in Miami. Washington is now 15-29 on the season and 5-5 in their last 10 games.

2. In his previous six games since returning from a quad injury, Davis Bertans had put up some solid numbers and shown flashes. Against the Cavs, though, he did what we saw him to much more often a few months ago when he was healthy.

Bertans not only lit a spark off the bench, but he did so in microwave fashion. He had 14 of his 17 points in the first half, including three consecutive threes in the second quarter to force a timeout as the Wizards' lead grew to 14. That marked a big turnaround after Washington trailed by as many as 12 in the first quarter.

Bertans helped lead a monster effort from the Wizards' bench as a whole. They outscored the Cavs' second unit, 59-34. The Wizards are second in the NBA in bench scoring and that is despite all of the injuries they have dealt with in recent months. Now that they are nearly whole, the bench is becoming even stronger.

 

3. The Thomas Bryant situation is getting more interesting as each game passes. He has now been back six games and has been kept between roughly between 12 and 21 minutes a night. He played 17 minutes against the Cavs and contributed nine points and three rebounds.

Bryant is a big man coming off a foot injury, so the Wizards have incentive to play it safe and maintain a minutes restriction. But it has now been nearly two weeks since he came back.

Is it as simple as a minutes limit or is Ian Mahinmi's improved play having a domino effect on Bryant? The more Bryant plays limited minutes, the more that could become evident, if this is indeed performance based. 

Mahinmi, by the way, had seven points, seven rebounds and played strong defense, helping the Wizards to hold Tristan Thompson to six points and three rebounds.

4. Much like last week when the Wizards saw the Pistons and Andre Drummond, watching this game was reminder that Kevin Love is reportedly available in trades. That begs the natural question of where he would fit, if he gets dealt soon, like before the Feb. 6 deadline.

Some might argue the Wizards as an option, given their best players are guards and Love would technically complement them well. Given his age and contract, however, it would probably be too much of a risk for the Wizards.

The Blazers seem like they could use him and the Raptors could also be interesting. He would also fit well with the Rockets, though they probably don't have enough trade assets to get him.

What about the Timberwolves? They have disappointed this year and need to find Karl-Anthony Towns some help. Love wouldn't be joining a contender, as he probably hopes to, but it could be an interesting story if he goes back to the team he started with. And him and Towns would be a tough duo to stop given how well they rebound and stretch the floor.

Speaking of Love, he had the viral moment of the night when he pretended to resuscitate Beal. 

5. Backup center Anzejs Pasecniks was back in the mix after missing two games due to a left ankle injury. And not only was he available, he actually got some burn.

Pasecniks played 15 minutes and scored four points to go along with three rebounds. So, even with Bryant and Bertans back from injury, and Johnathan Williams III still getting minutes, Pasecniks maintains a role in the rotation.

That could change once other players come back. Moe Wagner, in particular, will probably take minutes away from him at the backup center spot. But Pasecniks still hanging around in the rotation is a testament to him and the way he has played. No one predicted he would play this much of a factor this season.

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Bradley Beal among elite company with 40th 30-point game over last two seasons

Bradley Beal among elite company with 40th 30-point game over last two seasons

Bradley Beal secured his 40th three-point outing since the start of last season Thursday night with an efficient 36 points on 15-of-22 shooting. He surpassed Paul George for the fourth-most 30-point games over the last two seasons and now trails only Damian Lillard, Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden. 

The Wizards have not been a good team over the last two seasons, but for Beal to be in the company of two MVP's shows just how much he's grown as the leader of this team. 

The updated leaderboard for this elite scoring class now goes as follows:

Harden: 86
Antetokounmpo: 54
Lillard: 45
Beal: 40

Beal has tallied 15 30-point games this season while no other Wizard has more than one. He's well on pace to get more than 25, which was last season's total, and he's doing it on inferior shooting numbers.

 

Beal's shooting percentage (45.2 percent) is his worst mark since 2015-16, and he's never shot below 35 percent from three, let alone the 31.6 percent clip he has now. 

He's certainly had more opportunity to play with the ball in his hands given all the time John Wall has missed over the last two seasons, but it takes a special type of offensive player to score 30 points as many times as the likes of Lillard, Harden and Antetokounmpo. 

It'll be difficult to catch Harden and Antetokounmpo since they're on a different level as scorers. If Beal can stay hot through a light schedule right before the All-Star break, there's no reason to think he can't pass Lillard on this list. 

That's assuming Lillard doesn't score 30 over the next two weeks, which most likely won't happen. 

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