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Takeaways from Wizards' big win over Raptors

Takeaways from Wizards' big win over Raptors

TORONTO – Not only did the Wizards build onto what they accomplished the previous night in upsetting the Golden State Warriors, but they thoroughly dominated a conference foe in the Raptors to solidify their standing 105-96 on Wednesday at Air Canada Centre.

The Wizards (36-23) won their second game in a row since coming out of the All-Star break 0-2 and drew even in the season series 1-1 with Toronto (36-25). The winner of Friday’s rematch at Verizon Center will determine who has the tiebreaker should they have the same record after 82 games.

John Wall (12 points, 13 assists) posted his 39th double-double, and Bradley Beal (23 points) and Marcin Gortat (12 points, eight rebounds) were able to get what they wanted early. But it was the second unit, led by Bojan Bogdanovic (team-high 27 points), that sparked a 26-3 run to blow it open.

The Raptors were led by DeMar DeRozan (24 points) but didn’t have much help outside of Serge Ibaka (22 points, 12 rebounds) and Cory Joseph (11 points). Joseph is starting in place of Kyle Lowry who is out because of wrist surgery.

Jason Smith (eight points, five rebounds) and Kelly Oubre (seven points) contributed to the effort by the reserves.

The Wizards will be off Thursday and are expected to have new acquisition Brandon Jennings on Friday.

--Smith had played just four total minutes in the previous three games but when he was inserted with Tomas Satoransky, Oubre, Bogdanovic and Ian Mahinmi the tone of the game changed. The Raptors shot 9-for-27, or 33%, while the Wizards were 13-for-19 for 68.4%.

--The defense of Otto Porter, who failed to score in 19 minutes, and Oubre on DeRozan was exceptional. And when Morris had to switch onto the 6-6 scorer they went under the screens and forced him to take difficult jumpers over length. While DeRozan got his points, he shot just 7-for-20 from the field.  Porter's counterpart for Toronto, DeMarre Carroll, also failed to score. He played 30 minutes.

--Gortat was disciplined, too, against Jonas Valanciunas. He didn’t bite the pump fakes, similar to how the perimeter defense stayed grounded when DeRozan does it. It led to the Raptors’ big man shooting 3-for-12 from the field and only playing 21 minutes.

--Beal appeared in his 55th game. That matches his total games played for the 2015-16 season when he was plagued by stress reactions in his lower right leg.

--Mahinmi didn’t do much in terms of offense, but he was caught on a switch on Joseph and stayed on top of him to block his shot at the rim. It was another example of where he can be valuable when dribble penetration compromises the perimeter defense.

--Coming off 19 turnovers vs. Golden State, the Wizards were able to prevent the extra possessions for Toronto. They had 12 in this one. The Wizards only had five fast-break points but what made this performance so sound was that they had 32 assists on 40 field goals.  The Raptors had just 11 assists on 33 field goals. The franchise low was six. They only had half that total midway through the fourth quarter. 

[RELATED: Why Wizards chose to waive House and keep Burke]

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Wizards 2018-19 end of season grades: Bradley Beal

Wizards 2018-19 end of season grades: Bradley Beal

Now that the dust has settled for the 2018-19 Wizards season, it's time to review the roster and hand out individual grades...

Who: Bradley Beal, shooting guard

2018-19 stats: 36.9 mpg, 25.6 ppg, 5.5 apg, 5.0 rpg, 1.5 spg, 0.7 bpg, 2.7 tov, 47.5 FG%, 35.1 3P% (2.5/7.3), 54.0 eFG%, 80.8 FT% (4.4/5.5), 113 ortg, 114 drtg

Best game: 1/13 vs. Raptors - 43 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds, three steals, two blocks, 6-12 3PT

Grade: A+

Season review: One could argue that nobody deserves a higher grade in the Wizards organization for their 2018-19 season than Bradley Beal, who had by far the best individual year of any player on the team. He had high expectations coming into the season and exceeded them, taking the next step from an All-Star to a legitimate All-NBA candidate.

Beal also continued to represent the organization well in public. He spoke for the team after many difficult losses with poise and maturity. And he brought positive attention to the franchise for his charitable efforts, recently being named as a finalist for the league's community assist award.

Beal's on-court performance was a shining light amid a disastrous season overall for the team. He set career-highs in scoring, rebounds, assists, steals and free throw attempts. He played in all 82 games for the second straight season and never complained despite leading the NBA in minutes.

The most impressive part of Beal's season may be how he responded when John Wall went down due to injury. Wall last played on Dec. 26 and in the next 47 games, Beal averaged 27.2 points, 6.0 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 1.8 steals. 

Beal's final numbers put him in elite company. He became the first 25-5-5 player in Wizards/Bullets franchise history. He was one of only six players to reach that mark this season, a list that includes Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, James Harden, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry.

Even as the season was winding down and the Wizards were well out of playoff contention, Beal gave an honest and consistent effort. That stood out in a year in which some of his teammates did not play hard and were called out by head coach Scott Brooks and team leaders for doing so. 

Now Beal, of course, had many reasons to keep giving 100 percent. With the numbers he has put up, he could make All-NBA in late May and, if he does, will qualify for a supermax contract. That could mean tens of millions more on his next deal, if he chooses to sign back with the Wizards.

As Beal looks ahead to this summer and next season, another question is how much better he can become. He took a significant step from the All-Star year he had in 2017-18. What if he makes another, similar leap?

Beal upped his scoring average by three points year-over-year. Another jump like that could put him in the MVP conversation, depending on how the Wizards finish in the standings.

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Why (and how) your NBA Cares Community Assist Award vote should go to Bradley Beal

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USA TODAY SPORTS

Why (and how) your NBA Cares Community Assist Award vote should go to Bradley Beal

Voting has officially begun for the season-long NBA Community Assist Award, and Wizards All-Star guard Bradley Beal is a finalist. 

Chosen by fans and an NBA executive panel, the award honors a player’s strong commitment to positively impacting his community through sustained efforts over the course of the season.

In December, Beal visited Ron Brown College Preparatory High school in D.C. to give away two pairs of shoes to every member of the JV and varsity basketball teams.

It didn't stop there. Beal took his role as a mentor to the next level by checking in with the kids multiple times a month to make sure they are on the right track in both athletics and their academic studies.

Later on in February, Beal invited 10 students from RBHS on a private tour of the National African-American History and Culture Museum.

The seven-year NBA veteran also made a point to donate game tickets to community groups and toys to the Salvation Army during the holiday season. 

Here's some key information about the voting process: 

  1. Voting begins: Wednesday, April 24th at 12:01 p.m.
  2. Voting ends: Sunday, May 5th at 11:59 p.m.
  3. How does voting work? Through the above date range, every tweet posted using both of the hashtags #BradleyBeal and #NBACommunityAssist counts as one vote.
  4. Retweets of tweets using the above hashtags also count as one vote

This all comes following another All-Star season that saw the 25-year-old finish with career-highs in points (25.6), rebounds (5.0), and assists (5.5). He played in all 82 regular-season games. 

The winning player will receive $25,000 to their charity of choice, a donation from the NBA and Kaiser Permanente.

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