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Popovich heaps praise on Beal, 'brilliant' Wall


Popovich heaps praise on Beal, 'brilliant' Wall

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich lived up to his cantankerous reputation during a pregame media session Wednesday night before facing the Wizards. One of his gems came following a question about whether he noticed a change in Washington guards John Wall and Bradley Beal this season.

"I haven't watched them," he dryly replied.

Popovich received an up close up look at Washington's dynamic backcourt Wednesday night. Praise from the five-time NBA champion coach followed.

Beal scored 25 points including the game-winning 3-pointer with 0.3 seconds left in the Wizards' 102-99 win. Wall finished with 17 points. He fed Beal on Washington's final play for one of his 13 assists.

“I thought he was brilliant," Popovich said of Wall.

That's also an apt description Beal's start this season. The fourth-year guard is the third player in Wizards/Bullets history and first since 1968 with at least 24 points in each of the team's first four games of the season.

The game's last shot occurred after Washington's play design set up the wing guard on the perimeter against 6-foot-11 forward LaMarcus Aldridge. After faking a screen, Beal floated to the right wing, received the pass from Wall, took a one hop dribble left and released another textbook jumper. Splash.

"John told me even before we ran the play be ready because you may be open," Beal said. "[Aldridge] thought I was going to drive it ...I just knocked down the shot."

Popovich offered a similar take from his vantage point by the Spurs bench.

“[LaMarcus] had him. Bradley made a great move," Popovich noted. "He stutter-stepped, he dribbled back, he made a shot. It happens all the time.”

Washington beating San Antonio doesn't happen all the time, though the Wizards have won two straight in the series after losing 17 in a row.

RELATED Wizards Rewind: Beal's big shot shocks Spurs

Beal and Wall combined for 17 of Washington's final 19 points as the Wizards fought back to down the Western Conference power.

Reminded about his earlier "I haven't watched them" comment, Popovich said of Beal, "He’s a hell of a player. I don’t need to see film to know that.”

Wall scored 13 points in the fourth quarter. The point guard's floor game stood out to Popovich. The two-time All-Star had assists on each of Washington's first three possessions along with one on the final play.

 "He got the ball to the right people at appropriate times, often," Popovich said of Washington's leading man. "He was very consistent, he made big shots when he needed to, but the floor game was really excellent."

Wall appreciated Popovich's postgame praise.

"It's a guy I finally beat for the first time last year. He's one of the greatest coaches of all-time. Every time I have the opportunity to meet him, whether we win or lose, I want to shake his hand. It's a respect factor -- and a humbling experience to say I played against a hell of a coach like that," Wall said.

"To hear that from, it's great. When I first came [into the league], they forced me to play one-on-one. That's what I did I kind of figured out how to beat teams. To hear that from a guy like that is great. It's an honor and something I will always remember in my career."

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Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld has stayed relatively busy this summer crafting his new-look lineup for the 2018-19 season. 

One of the team's key additions, Dwight Howard, is set to be introduced as a member of the Wizards on Monday. 

NBC Sports Washington will air the introductory press conference live at 1 p.m. while also streaming it online.  

Ernie Grunfeld and head coach Scott Brooks are both expected to be in attendance. 

The 32-year-old big man is coming off a 2017-18 season with the Charlotte Hornets in which he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. 

Since leaving the Orlando Magic after eight seasons in 2011, Howard has played for four different teams in the last six years. 

Howard is an eight-time all-star and a three-time defensive player of the year. 



John Wall's take on Dwight Howard 

Wizards make Dwight Howard free agent signing official 

By the numbers: Is new Wizards center Dwight Howard still in his NBA prime? 

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Carmelo Anthony traded to Hawks in three-team deal, but not likely to stay

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Carmelo Anthony traded to Hawks in three-team deal, but not likely to stay

The stage has been set for Carmelo Anthony to hit free agency, as the 10-time All-Star was traded to the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday in a three-team deal, one that will lead to a subsequent buyout of his contract. ESPN first reported the news and noted that the Rockets are the favorites to sign him.

The full deal sends Dennis Schroder from the Hawks to the Thunder in exchange for Anthony and a protected first-round pick, and sends Mike Muscala from Atlanta to Philly. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot will go to the Thunder from Philly and Justin Anderson will go from the Sixers to the Hawks.

That's a complicated deal, but it ultimately frees Anthony up to choose a new team. He was set to make $27.9 million from the Thunder next season, but the Hawks are footing the bill to let him walk.

Anthony's skills have declined now that he's 34 years old. Last season, he averaged 16.2 points on 40.4 percent shooting, way down from the 22.4 points he averaged the season before with the Knicks.

Still, Anthony could help a team looking for a scoring punch and the Rockets would like some more help in their quest to take down the Warriors. If he signs there, he will join friend Chris Paul and the 2017-18 MVP, James Harden. 

Houston has been the logical landing spot for Anthony ever since news broke that the Thunder were looking for a way out of his contract. If he doesn't go there, perhaps the Lakers would make sense. LeBron James is going to need a lot more help than the roster he currently has around him to make some noise in the crowded Western Conference.