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Takeaways from Wizards' 2nd consecutive loss at Mavericks

Takeaways from Wizards' 2nd consecutive loss at Mavericks

The Texas two-step for the Wizards, who were hoping to get over .500 for the first time this season, is complete. After a terrible fourth quarter in which they couldn’t make a shot and the Dallas Mavericks couldn’t miss, they lost 113-105 Tuesday and return to Verizon Center with a two-game losing streak.

The Wizards (16-18) lost to the Houston Rockets on Monday in a game they led by 15 points, 101-91. They regained the lead entering the fourth 88-87 on Dallas but went on a four-minute drought and didn’t recover.

John Wall (27 points, eight assists, four rebounds, three steals) led all scorers and Bradley Beal followed (25 points, six assists), Markieff Morris and Otto Porter (13 points) and Marcin Gortat (12 points, 16 rebounds, four assists).

Dallas (11-24) was led by Harrison Barnes (26 points, seven rebounds, five assists), Deron Williams (21 points), Devin Harris (17 points) and Seth Curry (16 points).

The Wizards fell to 3-12 on the road and will be off Wednesday before playing at home vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.

--Beal’s three cut the deficit to 110-105 with 2:12 left and the Wizards failed to score the rest of the way. Barnes missed a jumper over Wall, Williams missed a three and Beal forced Barnes into an airball. However, Wall missed two threes and Beal missed one. The Wizards were 11-for-30 overall from three, falling into a similar trap that they did vs. Houston when they shot 6-for-26 to play catch up in a game they'd had in hand. It didn’t work.

--The three-point shooting for Dallas was obscene (17-for-32). Curry was 4-for-5, Williams and Harris 4-for-7, and Barnes and Wes Matthews 2-for-4. They allowed Beal plentiful open looks but he shot just 3-for-11. When the Wizards lost to Houston, it was Porter and Morris given nine open looks and missing all of them.

-- Morris wasn’t able to take full advantage of Dallas switching Matthews onto him. Worse, he picked up three fouls  -- two on reach-ins on rebound attempts – in the first half to limit his effectiveness. Matthews (12 points) is an elite defender, but he’s a guard who shouldn’t be comfortable defending the 6-10 Morris anywhere in the post.

--Dirk Nowitzki (11 points) started at center and the Mavericks had difficulty keeping Wall out of the paint because he was too slow on rotations. Even when the defense had time to set, Dallas allowed penetration from Wall just because they were a step slow laterally closing him out and didn’t have a true rim protector. Wall had three-point plays, and-1s, to end the first and second quarters with strong drives that led to layups and contact from the bigs. Jason Smith had Washington’s first field goal of the fourth four minutes in when he ran screen-roll with Beal for a dunk. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle pulled Nowtizki and went with Dwight Powell and Salah Mejri who are more mobile.

--Kelly Oubre (eight points) had his best game since Dec. 16 when he sustained a concussion. He knocked down 2 of 4 threes. Smith (four points, two blocks) remained a spark, too, with his play on both ends. He lasted just eight minutes. Trey Burke and Marcus Thornton, however, were out of sync. They combined to shoot 1-for-6 in 23 total minutes. Dallas had a 43-15 edge in bench scoring. 

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Mystics respond to Liz Cambage's comments on social media: 'LOL'

Mystics respond to Liz Cambage's comments on social media: 'LOL'

After Game 3 of the WNBA Semifinals, Las Vegas Ace Liz Cambage did not mince words about her competition in the paint. 

In a postgame interview with ESPN2, Cambage told Kim Adams that the Washington Mystics have “small forwards guarding me. If they can’t handle it, get in the weight room or get out of the post."

Clearly that did not sit well with the Mystics players. That was evident on social media Sunday night.

Myisha Hines-Allen and Natasha Cloud jumped on the floor to show their strength.

Cloud went one step further to support her teammate LaToya Sanders. As a 6-3 center/forward Sanders, has been the main defender on the 6-8 Cambage for the series.

And Cloud also had a passive-aggressive retweet that reference's Cambage's comments.  

Shatori Walker-Kimbrough also had a laugh.

Until this series, the Mystics had kept the unstoppable Cambage at bay. All three regular-season contests the Mystics kept her to 16 points or fewer. A majority of that credit should be given to Sanders. The first two games of the series saw that flip, but still, she was nowhere near her performance in Game 3 with 28 points on 12-for-15 shooting.

If the Mystics needed any more motivation, they got it from Cambage. That is on top of them striving to get back to the WNBA Finals after falling short this year, the franchise still without a WNBA Championship, having the 2019 MVP on the roster and - as Imani pointed out on Twitter - the Mystics still have a 2-1 series lead. 

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Go-Go GM Pops Mensah-Bonsu's empathy put to test at open tryouts

Go-Go GM Pops Mensah-Bonsu's empathy put to test at open tryouts

WASHINGTON -- Capital City Go-Go general manager Pops Mensah-Bonsu often says one of the primary reasons he retired as a player to join the front office ranks was to bring his perspective as a journeyman pro to the GM position. He played for 18 professional teams across the NBA, G-League and overseas and was cut from quite a few of them. He once lost his job five minutes before his contract was guaranteed.

Those memories of disappointment and resolve have stuck with him to this day and he is reminded of them every time he has to cut a player. That experience makes him acutely aware of how a player feels when delivered the news.

"There is a way you can do business with honesty and integrity," he said.

That approach helped lead to a year-over-year change in the way the Go-Go held their tryouts on Saturday. Last year, Mensah-Bonsu delivered roster moves by taking players aside during scrimmages. The guys in the open morning session who were good enough to earn an invite to the closed afternoon tryout were told to stop playing and wait around.

That process led to a good deal of confusion. Some players who didn't know their fate came up and asked Mensah-Bonsu personally. He called it "heartbreaking."

So, this year he switched it up. He brought the roughly 100 players out to the main court and had them sit in the stands as he read out the jersey numbers of those who made it.

There was still some uncertainty from players about who had advanced to the second tryout. Several players pulled their jerseys off to double-check their numbers in disbelief.

Still, it was better than last year. With this being only the second season for the Go-Go and the second for Mensah-Bonsu as GM, that's all they can really ask for.

"You know how good things are in the first year by how the second year goes," Mensah-Bonsu said. "This year, we kind of knew the ropes and what to expect and how to do things. This year, we kind of hit the ground running. It was more seamless than it was last year."

Last year was unique because they had to build the team from scratch as an expansion franchise. This offseason, they were looking for fewer players overall, without the need to complete an entire roster.

The open tryouts generally bring a handful of players to the afternoon session where they then choose two to four as training camp invites. Those who are brought in for training camp then compete for roster spots on the Go-Go, which would put them one step away from the NBA.

Mensah-Bonsu said the goal was to take five or six players from the morning group. They ended up with 15, as he was once again surprised by the talent pool offered by the D.C. area.

That afternoon session, though, is a different level of basketball. There are players with decorated college careers and some with NBA resumes. Some of the invitees included Josh Selby, who played at Kansas and has 38 career NBA games under his belt, Maurice Creek (George Washington), Trey Dickerson (Georgetown) and Frank Howard (Syracuse). 

Everyone involved is chasing the NBA dream, some giving it one final shot.

"I empathize with these guys. It's not easy," Go-Go coach Ryan Richman said. "Come here, stretch, learn some plays and then play games. It's not an easy job."

It's not easy for the Go-Go staff, either, to evaluate 100 players all within a few hours. It can be confusing in its own way. And for Mensah-Bonsu, there was a moment on Saturday that was particularly disorienting.

In attendance for the morning tryout was a player named Kojo Bonsu. That's a familiar name.

"He's got the exact same name as my brother, so I looked and made sure he wasn't out there. It was eerie to see that. It's rare you see somebody with the exact same name as you or a sibling. It was interesting," Mensah-Bonsu said.

It is already hard enough for Mensah-Bonsu to make cuts. At least he didn't have to cut his brother.

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