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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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Beal makes his case in win over Cavs

Beal makes his case in win over Cavs

The Washington Wizards beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 124-112 on Thursday night. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

1. Just before tip-off, the NBA announced it's 2019-20 All-Star starters and not included in the Eastern Conference backcourt was Bradley Beal. Boston's Kemba Walker and Atlanta's Trae Young instead got the honors.

Whether Beal knew that fact when he took the floor or not, he put in a performance against the Cavs that should add to his case for being a reserve. The two-time All-Star followed up a 38-point gem against the Heat with 36 points against Cleveland just one night later. He also had eight assists and shot 15-for-22 (68.2%) from the field and 4-for-8 from three.

Beal now has the fourth-most 30-point games in the NBA since the start of last season with 40 of them. Only James Harden (86) Gianiis (54) and Damian Lillard (45) have more.

This 30-point game helped the Wizards bounce back from a loss the night before in Miami. Washington is now 15-29 on the season and 5-5 in their last 10 games.

2. In his previous six games since returning from a quad injury, Davis Bertans had put up some solid numbers and shown flashes. Against the Cavs, though, he did what we saw him to much more often a few months ago when he was healthy.

Bertans not only lit a spark off the bench, but he did so in microwave fashion. He had 14 of his 17 points in the first half, including three consecutive threes in the second quarter to force a timeout as the Wizards' lead grew to 14. That marked a big turnaround after Washington trailed by as many as 12 in the first quarter.

Bertans helped lead a monster effort from the Wizards' bench as a whole. They outscored the Cavs' second unit, 59-34. The Wizards are second in the NBA in bench scoring and that is despite all of the injuries they have dealt with in recent months. Now that they are nearly whole, the bench is becoming even stronger.

 

3. The Thomas Bryant situation is getting more interesting as each game passes. He has now been back six games and has been kept between roughly between 12 and 21 minutes a night. He played 17 minutes against the Cavs and contributed nine points and three rebounds.

Bryant is a big man coming off a foot injury, so the Wizards have incentive to play it safe and maintain a minutes restriction. But it has now been nearly two weeks since he came back.

Is it as simple as a minutes limit or is Ian Mahinmi's improved play having a domino effect on Bryant? The more Bryant plays limited minutes, the more that could become evident, if this is indeed performance based. 

Mahinmi, by the way, had seven points, seven rebounds and played strong defense, helping the Wizards to hold Tristan Thompson to six points and three rebounds.

4. Much like last week when the Wizards saw the Pistons and Andre Drummond, watching this game was reminder that Kevin Love is reportedly available in trades. That begs the natural question of where he would fit, if he gets dealt soon, like before the Feb. 6 deadline.

Some might argue the Wizards as an option, given their best players are guards and Love would technically complement them well. Given his age and contract, however, it would probably be too much of a risk for the Wizards.

The Blazers seem like they could use him and the Raptors could also be interesting. He would also fit well with the Rockets, though they probably don't have enough trade assets to get him.

What about the Timberwolves? They have disappointed this year and need to find Karl-Anthony Towns some help. Love wouldn't be joining a contender, as he probably hopes to, but it could be an interesting story if he goes back to the team he started with. And him and Towns would be a tough duo to stop given how well they rebound and stretch the floor.

Speaking of Love, he had the viral moment of the night when he pretended to resuscitate Beal. 

5. Backup center Anzejs Pasecniks was back in the mix after missing two games due to a left ankle injury. And not only was he available, he actually got some burn.

Pasecniks played 15 minutes and scored four points to go along with three rebounds. So, even with Bryant and Bertans back from injury, and Johnathan Williams III still getting minutes, Pasecniks maintains a role in the rotation.

That could change once other players come back. Moe Wagner, in particular, will probably take minutes away from him at the backup center spot. But Pasecniks still hanging around in the rotation is a testament to him and the way he has played. No one predicted he would play this much of a factor this season.

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Bradley Beal among elite company with 40th 30-point game over last two seasons

Bradley Beal among elite company with 40th 30-point game over last two seasons

Bradley Beal secured his 40th three-point outing since the start of last season Thursday night with an efficient 36 points on 15-of-22 shooting. He surpassed Paul George for the fourth-most 30-point games over the last two seasons and now trails only Damian Lillard, Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden. 

The Wizards have not been a good team over the last two seasons, but for Beal to be in the company of two MVP's shows just how much he's grown as the leader of this team. 

The updated leaderboard for this elite scoring class now goes as follows:

Harden: 86
Antetokounmpo: 54
Lillard: 45
Beal: 40

Beal has tallied 15 30-point games this season while no other Wizard has more than one. He's well on pace to get more than 25, which was last season's total, and he's doing it on inferior shooting numbers.

 

Beal's shooting percentage (45.2 percent) is his worst mark since 2015-16, and he's never shot below 35 percent from three, let alone the 31.6 percent clip he has now. 

He's certainly had more opportunity to play with the ball in his hands given all the time John Wall has missed over the last two seasons, but it takes a special type of offensive player to score 30 points as many times as the likes of Lillard, Harden and Antetokounmpo. 

It'll be difficult to catch Harden and Antetokounmpo since they're on a different level as scorers. If Beal can stay hot through a light schedule right before the All-Star break, there's no reason to think he can't pass Lillard on this list. 

That's assuming Lillard doesn't score 30 over the next two weeks, which most likely won't happen. 

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