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Takeaways from Wizards' big win over the Clippers

Takeaways from Wizards' big win over the Clippers

Every time out, it seems the Wizards are logging their best win of the season. Sunday, it was 117-110 vs. the L.A. Clippers in front of 17,380 at Verizon Center.

The Wizards, thin behind Marcin Gortat in the post and missing two backups to injury as well as their best wing defender in Kelly Oubre (concussion), battled back from a seven-point deficit late in the fourth quarter to secure their first three-game winning streak.

They’ve beaten the Milwaukee Bucks, Charlotte Hornets and Detroit Pistons in the last week.

Bradley Beal (41 points) led the way and John Wall focused on defense setting the table (18 points, 11 assists, 5 rebounds). Markieff Morris (23 points, 9 rebounds) had his best game of the season and Gortat (9 points, 7 rebounds) was crucial for what took place defensively in a difficult matchup with an elite pick-and-roll team.

Blake Griffin (26 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds) led the Clippers followed by J.J. Redick (17 points), Mo Speights (14 points), Austin Rivers (13 points) and Chris Paul (13 points, 12 assists).

--Gortat tied the score at 95 with a jumper and Wall and Beal returned with 7:16 left in the game. But after Rivers’ three the deficit grew to 102-95 almost put the game away.

-- The Clippers gambled off Morris, figuring they could get away with Rivers defending him at times in the post, and he made them pay. Conversely, the Wizards gambled off Griffin and gave him mid-range looks that he cashed in. Morris nailed an open jumper at 1:41 to give the Wizards a 112-108 lead.

-- Beal had his fifth game of 30 points or more this year. In his previous four seasons, he had a total of four.

--Wall’s ball pressure did the job on Paul and Jamal Crawford. And he had reliable help from his bigs, Morris and Gortat, as did Beal on pick-and-rolls.

--The Clippers went on a 10-2 run coming out of halftime and appeared on the verge of blowing it open. Beal, however, wouldn’t let them as he responded to every basket with one of his own. Beal had 18 points in the third when the Wizards were able to tie it briefly before trailing 87-85 going into the fourth.

-- Morris picked up his fourth foul at 8:49 of the third quarter defending Griffin. He had two questionable whistles go against him in the first half and opted to not respond to get a technical. Brooks stuck with Morris who was part of the run to get the deficit down to 73-71 midway through the third.

-- Andrew Nicholson played seven minutes in the first half and had his only field goal with an and-1 move to draw contact on Jordan, but he wasn’t able to keep up with the pace or quickness. He was too small for the likes of Speights and Jordan and not quick enough for Griffin.

--Daniel Ochefu played his first real minutes of the season, entering at 3:15 of the first quarter when Gortat picked up his second foul. With so few bigs available because Jason Smith (right hamstring) and Ian Mahinmi (right knee) were out. It forced him into action but he played sparingly.

--Wall’s layup with 1:18 left in the third, a reverse that cut the deficit to 83-82, was followed by his technical foul of the season as he appeared to say something to Paul. Paul lobbied for a whistle and got one from official Mike Callahan.

[RELATED: Wizards lose Kelly Oubre for game vs. Clippers because of concussion]

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Mystics star Kristi Toliver excited to officially join Wizards coaching staff

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Mystics star Kristi Toliver excited to officially join Wizards coaching staff

After months of serving a variety of roles for the organization, Kristi Toliver now has an official title with the Washington Wizards. The Mystics star has joined Scott Brooks' staff as an assistant coach and assistant for player development.

Toliver, 31, will remain a member of the Mystics, who play their season during the summer. The lack of overlap will allow her to focus much of her time on the Wizards and what she hopes becomes a long and successful coaching career.

She chose joining the Wizards over continuing to play professionally this year overseas, an option many WNBA players use in the offseason. But she has a coaching dream and happens to have caught on with the hometown team.

"This is the opportunity of a lifetime. When it came about, I wanted to be involved in any capacity that I could," Toliver said.

Toliver is the first active WNBA player to serve on an NBA bench and just the second woman after Becky Hammon, who is an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs. Toliver plans to reach out to Hammon after getting her phone number from Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird.

Toliver is honored to be in the same category with Hammon, whom she looked up to first as a player and now as a coach who has become a trailblazer in the profession.

"I know she's going to be somebody that I can ask questions to," Toliver said. "I will pick her brain about how she played and I will pick her brain about how she is coaching."

Hammon joined the Spurs' coaching staff in 2014 after years of helping the team out in other ways. Now that there are two female NBA assistants, the logical question is when one will become a head coach.

Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal can already attest to Toliver's impact and said there could be a female head coach "very soon."

"I wouldn't be surprised if it happened sooner rather than later," Beal said. "If you know the game, you know the game. Plain and simple."

Toliver has served as a coach in the Wizards' 5-on-5 scrimmages at practice. She has also been particularly helpful with ball-handling, which makes sense given she's the starting point guard for the Mystics. Toliver has helped a variety of Wizards players in dribbling drills including the big men like Jeff Green and Dwight Howard.

Coaching has required an adjustment for Toliver, who is used to having the ball in her hands running the offense. But just as being a player can help her as a coach, she expects to become a better player now seeing the game from a new perspective.

"I'd much rather be playing, I know that. But it's good to think the game in a different way and from a different point of view," she said.

Brooks has been effusive in his praise of Toliver ever since she began helping out in the Las Vegas Summer League in July. He invited her to join the staff over the phone shortly before the Summer League began and will admit he did not know at the time the relationship would get this far.

But over the summer, Brooks lost two assistants to other teams in Chad Iske and Sidney Lowe, paving the way for some movement on his staff. He promoted several positions from within and an opening was created for Toliver to come on board.

"She's a special talent. She's going to be moving through the ranks pretty quick," Brooks said.


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Mystics' Kristi Toliver joins Wizards coaching staff for 2018-19 season


Mystics' Kristi Toliver joins Wizards coaching staff for 2018-19 season

It's certainly not uncommon for professional athletes to make the transition into coaching following their playing days. We have seen more and more of this in recent years throughout sports, especially with younger coaches getting the chance to lead teams. 

What is uncommon is when a professional athlete begins their quest for life after playing while they're still playing. 

Washington Mystics veteran guard Kristi Toliver is joining the Wizards' coaching staff, the team announced Tuesday. 

The news comes after the 10-year WNBA pro got her feet wet on the Wizards' bench during Vegas Summer League play in July. 

Along with Elena Delle Donne, Toliver helped lead the Mystics to the 2018 WNBA Finals, before ultimately falling to the Seattle Storm. 

The 31-year-old was drafted third overall by Chicago in 2009 after leading her Maryland Terrapins to a national championship in 2006. 

Toliver will serve as an assistant coach and focus on player development for head coach Scott Brooks. 

Coach Brooks also welcomes Robert Pack and Ryan Richman to the front of the bench. Pack served as assistant coach under Brooks for two seasons during their Oklahoma City Thunder days while Richman led the team during summer leage play and is entering his fifth year in Washington. 

The Wizards open their 2018-19 regular season Thursday against the Miami Heat inside Capital One Arena. Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.