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Takeaways from the Wizards' first road win of the season at Magic

Takeaways from the Wizards' first road win of the season at Magic

ORLANDO -- This is no holiday joke: The Washington Wizards can feel thankful for what happened Friday night.

They won. On the road.

Having John Wall certainly helped.

The All-Star guard missed Washington's previous and unsuccessful trip to Orlando earlier this month, but in the rematch had seven of his 26 points in the final 98 seconds and 10 assists as the Wizards downed the Magic 94-91 at the Amway Center.

Otto Porter scored 19 points and Bradley Beal had 14 points and eight assists for the Wizards (5-9), who were winless in five previous road games including an 88-86 loss at Orlando on Nov. 5. Washington and Philadelphia were the only NBA teams without a road win this season.

Wall sat out that game due to Washington not using the point guard in back-to-back games at that point in the season following his two off-season knee surgeries. With Washington leading 86-85 after letting a 19-point cushion evaporate, Wall's craftiness and speed led to two layups. The point guard then hit three free throws in the closing seconds to clinch Washington's second straight win.

Serge Ibaka led the Magic (6-10) with 19 points. Nikola Vucevic had 17 points and 17 rebounds, but was quiet late.

Déjà Vu All Over Again: Washington's 12-game winning streak over Orlando ended that previous November night as the Magic closed by outscoring the Wizards 27-16 in the final period. It was a similar scene after the Wizards led by 17 in the first quarter and 48-38 at halftime.

The Magic whittled the lead to 72-68 entering the fourth and pulled ahead for the first time at 77-76 on Evan Fournier's 3-pointer with 8:17 remaining. Neither team scored again until D.J. Augustin's 3-point play with 6:22 left put the Magic up 80-76, but Porter's back-to-back 3-pointers and two Marcin Gortat layups had Washington on top 86-83.

Key Stat: The presence of Wall boosted Washington on both ends. The Magic only had nine turnovers in the previous game, but 19 Friday and the Wizards turned those into 17 points. Wall, whose activity led to easy looks whether in half court or transition, and Markieff Morris each had three steals. All nine Orlando players that entered in the first half committed at least one turnover.

Quick start: Washington's defense turned Orlando over repeatedly in the first quarter especially during a 17-1 run for a 26-7 lead. The Magic chipped back, but their 15 turnovers and Wall's all-court performance sent Washington into halftime leading 48-38.

Heavy minutes: Wall played 39 and Beal 37 as Washington returns from the Thanksgiving break with a back-to-back set. Each played the entire third quarter as coach Scott Brooks couldn't find a chance for rest with Orlando rallying. Each sat for around two minutes of the fourth with one remaining on the court.  All five starters played at least 32 minutes.

Up next: The Wizards are back in Chinatown Saturday where they receive their first look at the Tim Duncan-less San Antonio Spurs (13-3). Kawhi Leonard had 25 points and 10 rebounds for the Spurs in Friday's 109-103 win at Boston. San Antonio improved to 9-0 on the road this season despite trailing 14 points in the first quarter.


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‘Grateful for the opportunity’ A tale of the second Capital City Go-Go open tryouts

Capital City Go-Go

‘Grateful for the opportunity’ A tale of the second Capital City Go-Go open tryouts

The Washington Wizards G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go, held their second open local player tryouts at the Entertainment and Sports Arena Saturday morning in Southeast D.C.

Over 100 hopefuls filed into the arena with plans to impress Go-Go General Manager, Pop Mensah-Bonsu, head coach Ryan Richman, and his staff. 

Although each player in attendance has a unique path that’s led them here, they all shared one simple, yet intricate goal:

One shot in the G League. 

Adam Stanford, a prospect from California, traveled on a red eye to make the tryout on a less-than-ideal amount of sleep.

“My plane left at midnight from LAX, I had a two-hour layover in Denver, made it to Reagan National at five, checked into my hotel at six, took an hour nap and then Ubered here for tryouts,”  he said. 

“If I made this team it’d be big. Not just for me but for everyone who knows what I’ve been through from college to now.” 

Stanford is a 6-foot-4 wing from Campbellsville University, where he averaged 7 points, 5 rebounds, and was an academic All-American. 

Even with his positive outlook on the process, and an impressive showing Saturday morning, Stanford’s name wasn’t called for a follow-up workout later in the afternoon. 

The harsh reality that your chances are extremely slim to make a G League roster from an open tryout can be a tough pill to swallow, but as a guy who’s been on the opposite end of the chopping block, Mensah-Bonsu had an immense amount of respect for those who showed up to compete Saturday.

“Personally it’s tough because I never wanted to be that guy to read out the numbers of those who did make the team, and skip over those who didn’t,” Mensah-Bonsu said, “it’s heartbreaking. We always anticipate what the DMV has to offer in terms of the wealth of talent in this area.

"I was pleasantly surprised because we ended up selecting 15 guys to stick around for the afternoon portion, but going into this we were only planning to pick five.” 

Those who made the cut won’t be announced until a later date, which leaves the larger point of how those who were passed on respond?

The all-time leading scorer in Peach Sun Belt Conference history, Detrek Browning, was in attendance Saturday and put on a show. His combination of quickness, deep range shooting ability, and a knack for loose balls/putbacks captured the attention of every media member in attendance. 

However, his name wasn’t called for the next round of tryouts. 

Still, in a state of shock, he delivered words of encouragement not just for his self, but others to turn to after a similar letdown. 

“I for sure thought I was going to get a place here, but you just gotta focus and move on,” Browning said. “I quit my job in June to focus on basketball and it’s been paying off. I’ve seen my game increase exponentially.

“I did my best and that’s what matters,” he added. “I appreciate them not picking me up, it’s just going to make me work even harder.”




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Elena Delle Donne thanks makers of face mask, knee brace after 2nd MVP honors

Elena Delle Donne thanks makers of face mask, knee brace after 2nd MVP honors

Most MVP award winners thank coaches, parents and anyone who helped them become great. Elena Delle Donne is not most people.

The Washington Mystic's superstar forward had a lot to be thankful for after receiving the second MVP honors of her career, creating a long list on Twitter. Some injury-preventing accessory manufacturers made their way high up on her list.

Delle Donne became the first woman player to shoot 50/40/90 splits over the course of an entire WNBA season this year, but she was perhaps more grateful for the apparrel that allowed her to stay on the court: her knee brace and face mask. 

The Delaware native often deflects praise onto her teammates and coaches when receiving accolades, but when EDD's knee is being held together by her bulky brace and her nose is feeling protected after a fracture earlier in the season, they definitely deserve the thanks. 

She had a gruesome knee scare in a Game 2 loss to the Atlanta Dream in the playoffs last season, and even missed some early season games this year in recovery. Still, Delle Donne wouldn't let her knee keep her out of action, as her 31 regular season starts were the most games she's played since 2015. It's been evident she's had an edge all season to help her Washington Mystics get back to the Finals, and this time finish the job. 

Delle Donne's face mask has also been somewhat of a fashion trend in recent weeks with star athletes around the District. Wizards all-star guards John Wall and Bradley Beal along with Redskins runing back Derrius Guice, all wore the face masks in solidarity when they came to support the Mystics at the Entertainment and Sports Arena. 

Despite Delle Donne's nose having been fully recovered, she's kept the face mask on during games for style and reassurance. Considering these ailments, it's impressive Delle Donne's shooting touch not only hasn't been affected, but instead has improved. 

After a Game 2 win over the Las Vegas Aces, Delle Donne and Co. have the opportunity to make their season mantra come true and #RunItBack to a second straight WNBA Finals appearance.