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Takeaways from a much-needed Wizards' blowout win vs. Celtics

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Takeaways from a much-needed Wizards' blowout win vs. Celtics

Though they made it closer than it probably should’ve been, the Wizards accomplished something Wednesday that they didn’t all of last season – beat the Boston Celtics.

Otto Porter set a career-high with 34 points on 14-for-19 shooting, 14 rebounds, four assists and three steals to lead all scorers. John Wall (19 points, seven assists) and Marcus Thornton (16 points, four assists, three steals).

The Wizards (2-5) had a 13-0 edge in second-chance points after the first quarter alone when they led 34-8 but had it whittled to 58-43 by halftime.

Unlike other leads that they’ve blown to start the season, they put this one away after the Celtics cut the deficit to 15 on the hot hand of Marcus Smart (20 points), who 4 of 6 three-pointers in the third.

Porter opened the fourth with six points to establish his career high.

The Wizards’ two wins have come against opponents they’ve traditionally had trouble beating. The other was the Atlanta Hawks.

  • Porter doesn’t need a lot of plays run for him as he creates so much of his own offense simply by moving off ball. In this one, he flourished while on the court playing as the stretch four in a three-guard lineup as he had earlier in the season. Kelly Olynyk, playing his first game of the season, and Jonas Jerebko couldn't keep up. Porter’s previous career high (28) was scored last season at the Dallas Mavericks when he played as the stretch four for a shorthanded Wizards lineup because of injuries.
     
  • Wall, clearly feeling as if Smart dealt him a cheap shot in the fourth, returned the favor and was ejected for the second game in a row. Officials reviewed the play and determined it was a Flagrant 2, deemed "unnecessary and excessive contact committed by a player against an opponent." Wall is losing his cool with the no-calls and it's not just costing him in the wallet but it could cost the Wizards. Fortunately for them, this game was a blowout.
     
  • Beal (three points) only played seven minutes in the first half and didn’t score on four shots. He left with a hamstring injury and only played a total of 11. Thornton played an uncharacteristic 17 of 24 minutes in the first half and ended at 34. Tomas Satoransky (four points, four assists) played 32 minutes as well and Andrew Nicholson returned in a limited role (five minutes, no points) after not playing in the previous game vs. Houston.
     
  • The Wizards defended Isaiah Thomas (23 points) well on screen-roll action and dribble handoffs to keep him out of the lane and from creating havoc. Wall played good position defense and the help from Marcin Gortat (13 pointts, nine rebounds) in the paint was there. He had minimal impact when the game was close.
     
  • Trey Burke (18 points) had his best game of the season 7 of 9 shooting and it likely has to do with Satoransky's presence. With the 6-7 combo guard able to handle the running of the offense, inject pace in transition and it allows Burke to play off the ball more freely so he'll get the open looks.Burke looks better with two other ball-handlers on the floor regardless of position.

[RELATED: VIDEO: Bradley Beal leaves game vs. Celtics with hamstring injury]

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Trading Jodie Meeks gives Washington Wizards much-needed salary cap relief

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Trading Jodie Meeks gives Washington Wizards much-needed salary cap relief

With a luxury tax bill of approximately $19 million on the way, the Washington Wizards gave themselves some salary relief on Monday by trading veteran guard Jodie Meeks to the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Wizards attached a future second round pick and cash to the deal and in exchange received a future second round pick of their own, NBC Sports Washington has confirmed. ESPN first reported the news.

Though Meeks, 31, was due to make $3.45 million this season, his departure saves the Wizards about $7 million because of projected tax penalties. That's a lot of savings in a deal that got rid of a player who had become expendable.

Meeks had fallen out of favor with the Wizards for a variety of reasons. He was due to serve a 19-game suspension to begin the season due to performance-enhancing drugs. The ban was announced the day before their first round playoff series against the Raptors was set to begin in April.

Meeks also underperformed last season in the first year of his contract with the Wizards and requested a trade in February. This summer, Meeks exercised his player option to remain with the team.

The Wizards were not likely to count on Meeks much at all this season because they traded for Austin Rivers in June to add depth at the shooting guard position. Meeks' role was made clear by the fact he did not appear in any of the Wizards' four preseason games against NBA opponents.

Meeks' tenure in Washington was a significant disappointment. The Wizards signed him last summer in hopes he could shore up the shooting guard spot on their bench. 

Though he stayed healthy for the first time in years, he never earned the trust of his coaching staff. The Wizards opted to rely more heavily on starter Bradley Beal, who logged the fourth-most minutes of any NBA player last season.

Now, they are moving on.

Meeks leaving the organization should have little effect on the Wizards, though it does leave them with a hole on their roster that needs to be filled. They currently have 13 players, one below the league minimum. The Wizards now have 14 days to add a 14th player.

They could sign a free agent, convert one of their players on two-way contracts (Devin Robinson and Jordan McRae) or make a trade. The Meeks deal gives them a $3.45 million trade exception.

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Dwight Howard practices for first time with Wizards, raising likelihood he plays in opener

Dwight Howard practices for first time with Wizards, raising likelihood he plays in opener

On Monday, for the first time since 2018-19 training camp began, the Wizards were complete.

Dwight Howard, who missed three weeks due to a strained piriformis muscle, participated in his first full practice with his new team. The 32-year-old signed a free agent deal with the Wizards in July, but had yet to take the court due to the injury, which began bothering him shortly before camp began on Sept. 25.

Howard had a setback on Oct. 6 and saw a specialist in New York. He received a pain injection on Tuesday and on Saturday began shooting again.

After clearing that hurdle, he was ready to be a full-go with his new teammates.

"It felt pretty good. I really gotta catch my wind and learn some of the offense. But other than that, it felt pretty good," Howard said of Day 1.

Howard practicing on Monday gives him two more days to work with before the Wizards open their season on Thursday at home against the Miami Heat. Both he and head coach Scott Brooks say it's too early to tell if he will be available.

"We'll see how it feels. I will do everything I can to make myself available for all 82 games," Howard said.

Howard not only has to play himself into game shape, he has to develop chemistry and timing with his new teammates. He missed all five of their preseason games.

If Howard can play, that would certainly be a positive turn of events for the Wizards. As of the end of last week, it seemed highly unlikely he would be ready when the regular season began.

But Howard turned a corner and now appears to be coming along quicker than once expected. 

"It was probably our best practice of training camp," Brooks said Monday after finally getting Howard into the mix.

"He has a natural feel. His IQ was pretty high, I was impressed with that. He picked things up."

Howard signed a two-year contract worth $11 million to join the Wizards in July.

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