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Takeaways from Wizards' blowout win over OKC Thunder

Takeaways from Wizards' blowout win over OKC Thunder

The Wizards allowed Russell Westbrook to beat them the last time these teams met. On Monday, they frustrated him into one of his worst games of the season and blew out the Oklahoma City Thunder, 120-98, in the third sellout at Verizon Center in front of 20,356.

Bradley Beal (22 points) jump-started the Wizards by making 6 of 7  three-pointers while John Wall (15 points, 14 assists) orchestrated the offense as they’ve won 19 of 20 at home to avenge an overtime loss in Oklahoma City on Nov. 30. In that game, Russell Westbrook hit a three-pointer to force the extra session and win 126-115.

This time, Washington (33-21) left no doubt. The home record is 23-7, the most wins in franchise history before the All-Star break with one game remaining Thursday vs. the Indiana Pacers. The previous high was 21 in 1978-79.

Westbrook (17 points, four assists) was kept under control, shooting just 5-for-19 and and playing just 24 minutes. No other starter for the Thunder scored in double figures with Andre Roberson, Domantas Sabonis, and Victor Oladipo combining to score 12 points. Steven Adams (nine points, 11 rebounds) was their only other significant contributor.

Markieff Morris (game-high 23 points, six rebounds) and Marcin Gortat (12 points, three blocks) dominated inside. Otto Porter (18 points, 12 rebounds) had his 10th double-double while Wall posted his 34th. Trey Burke (11 points) and Jason  Smith (nine points, six rebounds) led a bench that added 30 points.

All five starters for Washington scored in double figures for an NBA-leading 21st time.

--The Wizards made 63 percent of their shots in the first half when they led 67-54. When the third quarter began, the Wizards went on a 24-3 run that was highlighted by a between-the-legs assist from Wall to Porter in transition for a dunk. Oklahoma City missed 24 shots in a row, including the end of the second quarter.

--Gortat’s help behind Wall to keep Westbrook out of the paint was exceptional. Westbrook didn’t have those runs to the rim where he dunked without traffic. The Wizards kept him angled from the rim and Gortat had three blocks in the first 24 minutes. They began the game by getting Gortat vs. Adams in isolations and he made both shots.

--Beal had the Thunder’s best one-on-one defender, Roberson, in foul trouble early. He attacked his closeout on the three-point line from the corner and Roberson had his second foul less than three minutes in.

--Morris was able to isolate at his position, too, adding to the difficulty the Thunder had in putting out the multiple fires being set all over the floor. He made 6 of 9 in the first half in his matchup with Sabonis, who wasn't strong enough and couldn't stay in front of Morris.

--Wizards coach Scott Brooks had to go back to most of his starters after his reserves played sloppy to begin the fourth. They scored 101 through the first three quarters but 23 turnovers for the game are too many. The Thunder only could turn those into 14 points.

--Wall entered the game with a sore left ankle that had kept him from practicing but only was needed for 30 minutes. Beal had foul trouble early but only was needed for 23 to get his damage done. Beal also got his 22 points on just eight shots.

[RELATED: Crowd goes berserk as Wall hits Porter with between-the-legs assist]

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

The 2018 NBA offseason in just three weeks has become one of the wildest summers in the league's history between LeBron James signing with the Lakers, and all the characters that followed him, to DeMarcus Cousins surprising everyone to sign with the Golden State Warriors, to Kawhi Leonard getting traded to the Raptors.

As crazy as it all has been, two teams in the Eastern Conference stand out for so far doing very little, either by choice or circumstance. The Celtics and Sixers, the two teams most see as the favorites in the East, appear at least so far to be running it back with the same group of players.

This appears to be the Celtics' intention. After overhauling their roster last summer, they clearly see an opportunity to take a step forward as-is. Boston was one win away from the NBA Finals and will return Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving from injury. With James gone to the West, they can improve significanly just by keeping it all together.

Boston re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes. Their biggest addition this summer so far has been their first round pick, Robert Williams.

The Sixers, unlike the Celtics, didn't appear to plan on doing it this way. They wanted James and missed out. They reportedly had interest in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, but both went elsewhere. There are no stars left to sign in free agency and the trade market may be drying up.

Philly made some minor moves like trades for Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala. They may also have a deal for Kyle Korver in the works. They also had two first round picks in Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet.

There's a chance the Sixers got better than people think, as many of the moves they made seem smart. But they didn't reel in a big fish and will probably come back for the 2018-19 season with a team very similar to the one that made the second round of the playoffs this spring.

The fact the Celtics and Sixers may stand pat is probably a good thing for the rest of the East. Both teams may improve naturally if they are healthier and if their young players continue to ascend. But neither made a game-changing addition, one that would solidify either as an unstoppable superteam in the conference. 

The West is overloaded with title contenders and All-NBA players. The East, meanwhile, is much more open and it may end up staying that way mainly because Boston and Philly have been quiet so far this summer.

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Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld has stayed relatively busy this summer crafting his new-look lineup for the 2018-19 season. 

One of the team's key additions, Dwight Howard, is set to be introduced as a member of the Wizards on Monday. 

NBC Sports Washington will air the introductory press conference live at 1 p.m. while also streaming it online.  

Ernie Grunfeld and head coach Scott Brooks are both expected to be in attendance. 

The 32-year-old big man is coming off a 2017-18 season with the Charlotte Hornets in which he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. 

Since leaving the Orlando Magic after eight seasons in 2011, Howard has played for four different teams in the last six years. 

Howard is an eight-time all-star and a three-time defensive player of the year. 

 

RELATED LINKS: 

John Wall's take on Dwight Howard 

Wizards make Dwight Howard free agent signing official 

By the numbers: Is new Wizards center Dwight Howard still in his NBA prime?