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Takeaways from Wizards' blowout win over Hawks in Atlanta

Takeaways from Wizards' blowout win over Hawks in Atlanta

The last building block may be in place for the Wizards, who have won 14 in a row at home but have been less-than-adequate on the road for much of this season. After winning at New York and Charlotte earlier in the week, their end-to-end domination of the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night produced one of their most lopsided wins of the season, 112-86.

All five starters were in double figures: John Wall (19 points, nine rebounds, six assists), Bradley Beal (15 points), Otto Porter (21 points, 11 rebounds), Markieff Morris (15 points, nine rebounds) and Marcin Gortat (15 points, 12 rebounds, three steals).

The only offense the Hawks (27-19) had early came from the perimeter. Kent Bazemore (15 points) and Tim Hardaway (12 points). But Dennis Schroder (nine points), Thabo Sefolosha (two points) and All-Star Paul Millsap (four points) were non-factors.

The Wizards are 7-14 away from Verizon Center. They began the calendar year with two losses at the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks that they easily could’ve won, but since then have won 4 of 6 road games.

[RELATED: Is John Wall already better than Gilbert Arenas was with Wizards?]

--For the third time in as many meetings, Morris dominated his matchup with Millsap who was 1-for-6 in the first half and couldn’t get on track. Morris’ length bothers him on the three-point shot and he’s strong enough to prevent Millsap from getting to his preferred spots in the low post. Millsap only took one shot in the second half and missed.

--With Porter’s help on the boards, the Wizards were able to dominate the rebounding category in the way Atlanta dominated them in that area. Porter had seven rebounds in the first quarter alone and other than a few offensive boards Dwight Howard (12 points, 13 rebounds) wasn’t much of a factor. When he tried to post up Gortat in the first quarter, Howard was forced to take a jump hook out of his comfort zone that was short. They never were able to get much out of that matchup. When Howard tried to go at Gortat, he was called for travelling twice and that further disrupted him. Most of his numbers came with the game already out of reach.

--Wall fall fell hard in transition when Millsap pushed him in the lower back on a drive. His right leg got stuck under him on the landing but Wall, who had surgeries to both knees May 5, got up slowly. The last time the Wizards were here, Bazemore was assessed a flagrant foul on Wall in transition. This is where Wall broke his left wrist in the 2015 playoff series.

-- The bench did its job again, even though their numbers were modest. When the first quarter ended, the Wizards led 37-25. When Tomas Satoransky (nine points), Trey Burke (nine points, three assists) and Kelly Oubre (four points, three steals) began the second quarter, they all made plays to help extend it to 67-45 at halftime. Satoransky was patient with his dribble, got his 6-7 frame into the paint and made a floater. Oubre had a block on Hardaway, Burke nailed a 21-foot jumper and Satoransky was assisted on a dunk by Oubre.

--The Wizards have scored 100 or more points in 13 consecutive games which was achieved around the eight-minute mark of the fourth quarter. Porter was 5 of 7 on threes, one short of tying his career-high of six which he has achieved twice this season. 

[RELATED: Wizards lay out plan for Mahinmi, aren't looking to add a big man]

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John Wall knows the decision between loyalty and money is a tough one for Bryce Harper

John Wall knows the decision between loyalty and money is a tough one for Bryce Harper

In just a few months, Nationals star Bryce Harper could become one of the biggest free agents not just in baseball history, but sports history. He will decide whether to stay in Washington with the team that drafted him and oversaw his development as a young player, or to leave for another city.

Wizards guard John Wall has twice faced the prospect of free agency and twice has decided to sign contract extensions to stay in D.C. Though the salary structures of baseball and basketball are different, there are some parallels between the two. 

Wall has a unique perspective on the call Harper has to make and gave his opinion on the matter in a 1-on-1 interview on the latest episode of our Wizards Tipoff podcast.

"Well, it’s kind of tough. It depends on if you want to do it off of loyalty, or if you want to do it to make sure you make the most money you can make. That’s the toughest decision that you can have. I have the opportunity here where I have loyalty and I can also make the money, so that was a bonus and a plus for me in both situations," Wall said. 

Wall noted how as an NBA player he can have the best of both worlds. The league's collective bargaining agreement allows teams to pay players they drafted significantly more money.

That, however, has not stopped NBA stars from changing teams. Wall in many ways is an outlier as many superstars have left money on the table to depart their original teams. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Paul George have all done that, to name a few. Kawhi Leonard could be next.

Harper, though, may also be able to make more money elsewhere. The Dodgers, Cubs, Yankees, Red Sox or some other team could conceivably offer more money than the Nats and there are some cities like L.A. and New York that could open up more endorsement opportunities.

There's no question it pays to be the best player on the Yankees. Look at Derek Jeter and how his stardom was boosted by that distinction.

Loyalty is also going to come into play for Harper and the past few days have shown he is a sentimental person, as he has talked about all the people he has connected with over the years and how much the Washington community means to him.

Wall took all of those things into account when he decided to stay in D.C. and not look elsewhere via free agency or trades, which have become commonplace for All-Star players in the NBA.

"It was how much what the city means to me is the reason I wanted to stay and what I want to bring here is a championship, it’s what I promise and I hope I can do that," Wall said. "My dad’s from here. Just the way they welcomed me from the first day I came here. Sticking with me through the tough times, when we wasn’t winning early on and then we started to win. The city just embraced me and I embraced the city back. It feels like home and I wouldn’t want to be nowhere else."

Though the difference in money likely won't be as drastic, Harper will have to choose how much loyalty and the human connection he has with people in Washington matters in his free agency decision. Wall knows the feeling.

Hear Wall's full 1-on-1 interview on our latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

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Wizards have talked to the Spurs about Kawhi Leonard, report says

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Wizards have talked to the Spurs about Kawhi Leonard, report says

After already making significant changes to their roster, the Wizards may not be done this offseason, as they have been in talks with the San Antonio Spurs about a potential trade for superstar Kawhi Leonard, according to a new report by ESPN

Read this from Adrian Wojnarowski:

Still, the bidding war among Boston, Philadelphia and the Lakers never materialized. The Los Angeles Clippers, Denver, Phoenix, Portland, Toronto and Washington are among teams who've talked with San Antonio, league sources said.

The Wizards certainly make sense as a Leonard suitor. They are in the East, meaning the Spurs could trade Leonard to them and not have to worry about facing him as often. Plus, they have a solid group of tradeable assets and ones that seem to fit the Spurs model.

Otto Porter is a versatile, young player under team control who plays an unselfish style and would likely embrace playing in a small market. He also has a salary ($26M in 2018-19) that isn't far off from Leonard's ($21M in 2018-19), so the money could be easily matched.

The Wizards also have Tomas Satoransky and Kelly Oubre, Jr., two young and up-and-coming players. Plus, they have draft picks, though ones that are unlikely to convey as lottery selections.

The Spurs have reportedly been more interested in getting players that can help now rather than draft picks to rebuild. That makes sense, as they still won 47 games last year despite Leonard only playing in nine of them due to injury.

The question in any Wizards and Spurs talks would be whether they would want one of Washington's All-Stars in John Wall and Bradley Beal. It would be tough to imagine the Wizards parting with either guy for Leonard, who carries some risk not only because of his quadriceps injury but also because he can opt out of his contract and leave after next season.

Just because the Wizards have talked to the Spurs doesn't mean they are serious contenders for Leonard, but it does show they are serious about improving their roster this summer. If they got Leonard and didn't part with Wall and Beal, that would be some team.

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