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Seldom-used Will Bynum thrives under 4th-quarter pressure


Seldom-used Will Bynum thrives under 4th-quarter pressure

Despite Will Bynum's experience, he's nowhere as near as seasoned in the playoffs. In his 10th season as a pro, eighth in the NBA, and not playing much for the Wizards recently, he found himself inserted into Game 3 vs. the Atlanta Hawks with 24 seconds left and a 99-98 lead.

Bynum, who replaced Marcin Gortat, was quickly fouled by Dennis Schroder and sent to the foul line. He buried both foul shots.

"That ain't pressure to me," said Bynum, who had nine points in 13 minutes of a 103-101 victory thanks to Paul Pierce's buzzer-beating bank shot. "Pressure is having four or five kids with no job. I'm playing a game that I love. I work hard. I'm prepared for this type of opportunity."

Bynum actually was the Wizards' best scorer in a dismal fourth quarter. They only scored 18 points, six coming from the backup point guard, in blowing all of a 21-point lead. 

John Wall's left wrist fracture created a spot for Bynum. He has missed the last two games of this series and is unlikely to play. Bynum had appeared just once in the playoffs, in a Game 4 blowout of the Toronto Raptors in the first round when he logged just four minutes. 

Now Ramon Sessions is the starter without Wall, which pushed Bynum up in the rotation and ahead of Garrett Temple because he's a better offensive option.

Bynum contributed to Pierce's game-winning basket, too. He set the screen on Kyle Korver to free him, forcing Schroder to switch on Pierce who is six inches taller and about 70 pounds heavier. 

"I've been dreaming, waiting on this type of opportunity," said Bynum, who last appeared in the playoffs in 2009 with the Detroit Pistons and played in China this season until being signed as a free agent in late March. "I'm well prepared. I work hard.

"I've been pro for a long time in a lot of different situations and scenarios."

[RELATED Paul Pierce's winning night on and off the court

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Troy Brown Jr. on Bradley Beal's extension, making a name for the Wizards

Troy Brown Jr. on Bradley Beal's extension, making a name for the Wizards

WASHINGTON -- The Wizards hoped Bradley Beal's decision to sign a contract extension last week would send a message to the younger players on the team. According to second-year veteran Troy Brown Jr., it already has. 

Brown, 20, said he was part of a group of players that cheered Beal when he arrived at the team's practice facility over the weekend, the day after news broke. 

"I was happy," Brown said. "We just appreciate him."

Brown's biggest takeaways from Beal's new contract, which will keep him in Washington through at least the 2021-22 season, involved the commitment he has made. Even as a two-time All-Star in his prime, he is willing to see through what the Wizards are trying to build.

That helped bolster Brown's opinion of the Wizards as an organization.

"It's good to see guys like Brad stay home," Brown said. "Like he talked about, he got drafted here. It makes younger guys like me, Thomas [Bryant] and Rui [Hachimura] feel good about the city, just to see the leader of our team taking that extension when he does have other options."

Like Beal, Brown is a first round pick. The Wizards selected him 15th overall in the 2018 draft, six years after they took Beal with the third pick in 2012. Beal has been around long enough to know exactly what it takes to be a star player in the NBA.

Brown has paid close attention and believes Beal can help him and the other young players on the team find success in the league.

"He leads by example every day. He comes in, works hard and is very vocal. Even if he's not talking a lot in practice, he's going hard," Brown said. 

"It's just one of those things where every time you know what you're going to get out of him. You don't really have to worry about Brad's effort or being a leader because he's going to do that every day."

What Beal has done is essentially say he's ready to be patient and help guide the Wizards through a transition period. While other NBA stars probably would have forced their way out of the situation he's in, Beal is laying down roots with confidence the team's new front office structure and philosophy will pay dividends down the road.

Beal has spoken about how he wants to build something new in Washington where the NBA franchise hasn't won 50 games or been to the conference finals since the 1970s. Brown has fallen in line, hoping to be part of a basketball renaissance in The District.

"We're all young guys in the league, but at the same time we understand the stuff that's going on with D.C. [with the Nationals, Capitals and Mystics]. It's not irrelevant to us. We want to make a name for the Wizards. I feel like with us, we take it more personal than other people do. We just want to turn this thing around," he said.


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Wizards announce 2019-20 opening night starting lineup featuring Rui Hachimura

Wizards announce 2019-20 opening night starting lineup featuring Rui Hachimura

WASHINGTON -- The Wizards have their starting five penciled in for opening night in Dallas as they get set for their first game of the 2019-20 season on Wednesday against the Mavericks.

The two big headliners are Rui Hachimura at the four and Isaac Bonga at the three. The Wizards picked Hachimura ninth overall in the 2019 NBA Draft and he has secured a starting NBA job out of his first training camp.

Bonga is in there mostly due to injuries, as both Troy Brown Jr. and C.J. Miles continue to work their way back. The Wizards plan to have Brown start most games this season at small forward, but he is still days away from returning from a left calf strain.

Here is the Wizards' starting lineup, as announced by head coach Scott Brooks:

PG - Ish Smith

SG - Bradley Beal

SF - Isaac Bonga

PF - Rui Hachimura

C - Thomas Bryant

Also expected to be part of the rotation against the Mavericks are guards Chris Chiozza, Jordan McRae and Justin Robinson, plus big men Davis Bertans and Moe Wagner. Rookies Admiral Schofield and Garrison Mathews may also see some time. 

The Wizards will open their season at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday on NBC Sports Washington. Live coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Wizards Outsiders.