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Takeaways from Wizards' comeback to beat Kings in overtime

Takeaways from Wizards' comeback to beat Kings in overtime

The defensive issues persist for the Wizards, who allowed another sub.-500 opponent to shoot the lights out. But they won for the third time in as many road games Friday, coming back from a 15-point deficit to force overtime and win 130-122.

It was the Wizards' first win at the Sacramento Kings since 2009.

John Wall (25 points, 12 assists) sparked a 17-4 run to tie the score at 105 when he fed Bradley Beal (38 points, 10 rebounds) for a three-pointer. It was Wall’s 43rd double-double and Beal's first. Otto Porter (19 points, six rebounds), Bojan Bogdanovic (17 points), Jason Smith (nine points, six rebounds) and Ian Mahinmi (nine points, seven rebounds and two blocks) contributed heavily in the comeback.

Buddy Hield (18 points) got the Kings out to a blazing start by scoring 15 in the first quarter but didn’t score in the second half.

After the Wizards had trimmed the deficit to five, the Kings ended the third quarter with a 13-4 run to go up 97-82. But they shot 9-for-26 the rest of the way in coming apart at the seams for the second game in a row.

They blew a 28-point lead in their previous game vs. the San Antonio Spurs and lost by double digits.  This one was tied at 110 in the last two minutes.

The Kings (25-40) had six players in double figures, led by Willie Cauley-Stein (20 points, 13 rebounds), Arron Afflalo (18 points), Hield and Darren Collison (14 points, 10 assists).

--Smith, who didn’t play in Denver, got the call behind Markieff Morris (10 points). He made all four of his shots, including a three-pointer and two mid-range jumpers to get the deficit to single digits early in the fourth. Smith and Mahinmi finished the game for coach Scott Brooks, who went away from the ineffective combo of Morris and Marcin Gortat (two points). Morris did return to replace Smith late but played just 26 minutes. Gortat played 22. 

--The Kings only had two turnovers in the first half. The ball pressure wasn’t there, the switching was sloppy yet again and the dribble penetration allowed caused havoc. The Kings made 8 of 12 threes in the first half alone, 66.7 percent, which were mostly a product of the ball getting too deep, the defense sucking in and the kickouts. The tone changed when Hield, who isn't good off the dribble, was closed out effectively by Beal and Porter who suffocated him. On a crucial possession late in the overtime, Porter blocked Hield at the rim.

--Wall picked up his 12th technical foul of the season (cost, $4,000) for arguing with game officials over a no-call. He stepped out of bounds on a drive but was upset that Collison wasn’t called for a hand check that prevented him from turning the corner. Wall will get a warning letter from the NBA as he approaches 16 which leads to an automatic one-game suspension.

--Bogdanovic missed his first free throw after knocking down 35 in row. He went 3-for-4 from the stripe. He shot 0-for-5 from three-point range, which is where he is normally lights-out. 

--Anthony Tolliver (10 points) had eight consecutive points late in the third when the Wizards made a run. He dropped a three-pointer over Smith’s contest, had a dunk when Porter ran him off the arc but no one rotated to stop his dunk at the rim and had another three. That kept the score at 87-78. The Wizards couldn’t exploit him as a defensive liability in the post vs. Morris or Smith in the first three quarters but they figured it out late.

-- The Wizards were in the penalty with 9:01 left in the game after Smith fouled Ben McLemore (11 points) to stop him at the rim. The Kings, however, only had two and were able to play more aggressively but couldn't stop anyone. Beal scored 16 points in the fourth. He combined with Wall for eight in the extra session. The Wizards had 68 points in the paint and 25 in transition. Only having 11 turnovers also allowed them the needed possessions to come back. 

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Summer League allowed Wizards to experiment with Issuf Sanon's position

Summer League allowed Wizards to experiment with Issuf Sanon's position

Issuf Sanon remains very much a blank canvass as an NBA prospect. The Wizards' 2018 second-round pick is only 19 years old and still spending most of his time overseas, this past season playing professional ball in Slovenia.

So, the Wizards see the current stage of his career as an opportunity for experimentation. During Sanon's time in the Las Vegas Summer League, the Wizards toyed with him as a shooting guard despite the fact he was drafted as a point guard by trade.

Sanon spent much of his time on the floor during four Summer League games off the ball. It was an adjustment for Sanon, but one the team feels he is well-suited for due to his size at 6-foot-4.

"He's still picking up the game, still learning," Wizards Summer League head coach Robert Pack said. "I don't want to put a lot of pressure on him to be a point guard or to be an off-guard."

Sanon didn't exactly take to the new role quickly. In his four Summer League games, he averaged only 1.5 points and a rebound while shooting 18.2 percent from the field. He even missed his free throws.

But beyond the stats, the trademark aggression Sanon usually has was mostly missing. He usually runs around the court with reckless abandon, sometimes to a fault. In the 2018 Summer League he got into foul trouble too quickly and stood out for slapping the floor on defense.

Those in the Wizards' front office rave about his motor and the edge he brings to the game. He almost has too much energy and the Wizards have no qualms with that. They say it's easier to reel that in than to ask a player to ramp it up out of nowhere.

But in the shooting guard role, Sanon did not appear comfortable, at least on offense.

"[I have to focus on] cuts, baseline, back screens," Sanon said of the difference in playing as a two-guard. "Like how we do in Europe, not play 1-on-1. Small cuts, back doors and stuff like that."

Without a consistent jumper, Sanon's ceiling off the ball on offense appears low at this point. Developing a three-pointer that other teams have to respect would be crucial for him becoming a combo guard long-term.

Defensively is where it makes more sense. Sanon is better on that end of the floor and has the size to defend shooting guards. He is tall and also strong. He is not your average, lanky 19-year-old basketball player.

Sanon has the size to play physical defense and the quickness to stay in front of point guards, at least at the Summer League level.

"I like to play defense. It starts on defense. If I play good defense, I have a good game," he said.

It may be another year or several before Sanon makes the leap to the United States to play for the Wizards. When he does, expect explosive athleticism and a commitment to the defensive end. 

Whether he will arrive as a point guard or something different, though, now appears to be up in the air.


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Natasha Cloud is tired of the Bradley Beal trade rumors

Natasha Cloud is tired of the Bradley Beal trade rumors

Mystics guard Natasha Cloud has had it up to here with trade rumors about Wizards guard Bradley Beal.

Beal has been a strong vocal supporter of the Mystics and the WNBA, in general. He works closely with Kristi Toliver, who, in her offseason, works as an assistant coach for the Wizards. His closeness with the Mystics has now manifested itself in Cloud voicing her opposition to Beal being traded on Twitter.

Beal is no stranger to trade rumors. Entering his eighth season, Beal has been connected to the Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics and Miami Heat, among others. Given that his name is frequently tossed around in trade talks, it should come as no surprise that the Clippers made a run at him to pair with Kawhi Leonard.

Despite the frequent and recurring rumors, Beal hasn't been traded, and very likely won't be traded. He's a star and a legitimate piece around which to build a franchise. At the summer league in Las Vegas, NBC Sports Washington's Chase Hughes sat with Shaquille O'Neal to discuss what the Wizards should do in free agency. Shaq said that between Beal and John Wall, the Wizards are just a piece or two from breaking through.

I definitely think [the Wizards] should keep him. He's a great shooter, but if he’s a great shooter looking to go somewhere, L.A. has $32 million [in cap space]. ... He's definitely the cornerstone of this franchise. He and John Wall have always, almost always, been there. They just need another one or two guys.

It's still unlikely that Beal is playing in anything other than a Wizards uniform on opening night, but if he is, expect to hear from Cloud about it.