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Takeaways from Wizards' comeback win over Lakers to win first division title in 38 years

Takeaways from Wizards' comeback win over Lakers to win first division title in 38 years

LOS ANGELES – In terms of helping a team’s position for the playoffs, winning the Southeast Division title for the first time – and their first since 1979 – doesn’t mean anything for the Wizards.

Still, it means a lot. They swept the season series with the L.A. Lakers on Tuesday, 119-108 at Staples Center, coming from 16 down with a fourth-quarter rally started by the second unit and closed out by stars John Wall and Bradley Beal. 

The win keeps the Wizards (46-28) ahead of the red-hot Toronto Raptors (45-29) in the East.

John Wall (game-high 34 points, 14 assists, four steals) got them out to a 20-8 lead in the first quarter of a game that appeared headed to a blowout. By the end of it, a layup by David Nwaba (eight points) tied it at 27 at the buzzer and the tone changed for good.

The Wizards are 2-0 on this road trip with their next game Wednesday, also at Staples Center, vs. the L.A. Clippers.

Wall led them back midway through the fourth when he stole the ball from DeAngelo Russell to draw them even at 101. From there, it was the defensive pressure that had been missing for most of the game that sealed the outcome.

Beal (16 points) made a pair of foul shots and then converted a three-point play with 2:51 left to give them breathing room at 108-104.

Otto Porter (16 points), Marcin Gortat (seven points, 10 rebounds) had production early but Ian Mahinmi (10 points, five rebounds) keyed the comeback with his play in the middle in the fourth.

Russell (28 points, nine assists) caught fire early by making 4 of 6 threes and Tyler Ennis (22 points) made his first two. Then Jordan Clarkson (22 points) heated up and the shots kept falling.

The Lakers (21-53), however, couldn’t keep it going as turnovers and empty possessions cost them in the end. 

A catch-and-shoot three-pointer from Kelly Oubre (14 points) made it 113-108 and then Markieff Morris (seven points, 10 rebounds) forced a turnover with a deflection on a pass from Julius Randle (six points, six rebounds).

--Faster starts have been the focus for coach Scott Brooks. When his team beat the Lakers almost two months ago, the Wizards allowed 12 of 22 shooting for 29 first-quarter points. But they forced 15 first-half turnovers. In this one, the Lakers shot 11 off 27 in the first quarter, or 40.7%. By halftime, they had six fewer turnovers to keep Wall out of transition.

--Beal could’ve set the franchise record for made three-pointers in a season. He went into the game with 203, two shy of the record set by Gilbert Arenas in 2006-07. Beal made his first long ball but couldn’t find his range after that. Beal finished 1-for-5 from three. Before this season, Beal’s career high for made threes in a season was 138 in 2013-14.

--In the last month, the Lakers have allowed 139, 137, 133, 125, 122, 119 (twice), 118, 115 and 110 points (twice).

--Rookie Brandon Ingram (right knee soreness) was inactive along with Nick Young. Corey Brewer (nine points) started in Ingram’s place.

--Morris knocked himself out of the rotation by picking up his third foul with 1:26 left in the second quarter. It’s why he played just 27 minutes.

--The Lakers repeatedly switched Randle onto Beal and he didn’t always attack the matchup the way he should’ve each time. On the and-1 to make it a two-possession game, he finally did it with a stepback jumper. The spacing was better as he could size up Randle from the top of the key rather than the slot where he had fewer options.

--Mahinmi was a forced in the fourth quarter with stopping layups at the rim, jumping passing lanes and getting deflections to disrupt Los Angeles. It seems every game for him lately is his new “best performance of the season.” But that’s why he was brought in for $64 million. Gortat only played eight of 24 minutes in the second half.

[RELATED: VIDEO: D'Angelo Russell consoles kid after running into bench]

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SPOILER ALERT! Wizards make appearance in New York Times crossword on Sunday

SPOILER ALERT! Wizards make appearance in New York Times crossword on Sunday

Fans of both crossword puzzles and the Washington Wizards had a leg-up when completing the New York Times crossword puzzle on Sunday. 

The clue: "Wizards, but not witches."

The answer: 7 letters, "NBATEAM." 

This isn't the first time famous crosswords have included sports-related clues. The Washington Post and LA Times have used Bobby Orr as an answer many of times (trust me, we always have a half-finished crossword puzzle hiding somewhere in our living room). 

But athletes aren't the only answers to clues. Remember when the Post's Isabelle Khurshudyan revealed the Washington Capitals' "cult of crossword men" back in 2016?

The New York Times even published a list of the top-10 sports names to know for crossword fanatics everywhere. 

Just further proof that sports continue to permeate every aspect of life. 

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Wizards' new senior VP Sashi Brown's 3 best and worst moves with the Cleveland Browns

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Wizards' new senior VP Sashi Brown's 3 best and worst moves with the Cleveland Browns

The Washington Wizards have mixed things up with their front office, and that includes hiring Sashi Brown as a Senior Vice President

Brown is a graduate of Harvard Law School, and he was previously the Jacksonville Jaguars' lead counsel. But he was also an executive with the Cleveland Browns. 

He was both the Browns' Executive Vice President and General Counsel from 2013 to 2016 before being promoted to Executive Vice President of Football Operations. And then the Browns fired him in December 2017 on their way to an 0-16 record, and they were 1-27 with him as the head of personnel.

For the Wizards, Brown will work with and support new General Manager Tommy Sheppard, advising in decision-making. Brown will also contribute to recruiting free agents and promoting and selling the Wizards organization overall.

It wasn't all bad for Brown in Cleveland. But it obviously wasn't a standout run either. So here's a look at some of his best and worst moves for the Browns. 

Sashi Brown's 3 worst moves with the Cleveland Browns

1. Passing on 2 franchise QBs
While it set up some positive things for the Browns down the road (read more on that below), the team passed on key quarterbacks like Philadelphia Eagles' Carson Wentz and Houston Texans' Deshaun Watson in back-to-back NFL Drafts. 

Until ultimately drafting Baker Mayfield in 2018 (again, more on that later), the Browns had a consistent quarterback carousel with the team starting 19 different passers between 2008 and 2017. Cleveland needed a QB, and not only did it pass on Wentz and Watson under Brown, but it also overlooked Patrick Mahomes, Mitchell Trubisky and Dak Prescott -- although so did most teams.

2. Trading for Brock Osweiler
Although it was described as one of the most creative trades in NFL history, the Houston Texans got the better end of the deal here, getting Osweiler's guaranteed $16 million salary off their books. That was in March of 2017, and then Cleveland ended up releasing him that September after he fell from a projected starter to not playing in the team's last two preseason games. 

It was an unexpected move by the Browns at the time, and then they ended up paying him to not play in the majority of the Denver Broncos' games that season.

3. Acquiring too many NFL Draft picks
Much of Brown's strategy in Cleveland was trading for future NFL Draft picks, but he may have been too all-in on this one. In his two drafts, he had a total of 24 picks, and he accumulated 13 more for the 2018 draft. The problem with this strategy is while looking ahead is good, future draft picks don't win games. And Cleveland won once across Brown's two seasons in charge of personnel. That's not great.

Sashi Brown's 3 best moves with the Cleveland Browns

1. All those 2018 draft picks
OK, so while we just said Brown stockpiled a few too many draft picks during his time in Cleveland, he laid the foundation for the team's successful 2018 NFL Draft, which included four picks in the first two rounds. The Browns got quarterback Baker Mayfield at No. 1 overall, cornerback Denzel Ward at No. 4 and running back Nick Chubb at No. 35. 

Last season, Mayfield threw for 3,725 yards, 27 touchdowns and 14 interceptions and had a 63.8 completion percentage. Chubb was 10th in the league with 996 rushing yards, adding eight touchdowns, and Ward led Cleveland with 11 passes defended and had three picks for 26 yards.

2. Drafting Myles Garrett
The flip side of passing on Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes and co. was drafting defensive end Myles Garrett at No. 1 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. After having a strong rookie season despite injuring his ankle, Garrett was a Pro Bowler by the end of his second year. He led the Browns with 13.5 sacks for 82 yards and posted 44 total tackles. 

3. Getting Terrelle Pryor
Although Pryor turned out to be a bust with the Washington Redskins, he was one of the Cleveland Brown's best offensive players in 2016. After he switched from quarterback to wide receiver in the 2015 season, he led the team with 1,007 receiving yards off 77 catches with four touchdowns.

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