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Takeaways from Wizards' last-second loss to Pacers

Takeaways from Wizards' last-second loss to Pacers

With the chance to win both games of a back-to-back in reach, the Wizards couldn't cash even as Bradley Beal's long jumper -- appeared to be a three but his foot big right toe was on the line -- tied the score. Paul George did them in again Monday night on both ends, but someone else hit the game-winner for the Indiana Pacers. 

Thaddeus Young got the ball on a broken play on an inbounds, drove to his left and lofted up a left-handed shot for a 107-105 victory at BankersLife Fieldhouse. Beal had a chance with 0.9 seconds to win it on a catch-and-shoot from the corner but the ball went off the rim as the buzzer sounded.

George, who went for 40 in their first meeting a season ago and made two foul shots at the end of a game last year for victories, had a five-point spurt late in the fourth quarter to break open a close game. The Wizards, however, responded with a 7-2 run to bring it down to the wire.

The loss ended the Wizards’ three-game winning streak. It’s the first of a three-game trip to the Midwest that includes stops at the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday and at the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday. 

Marcin Gortat (21 points, 13 rebounds) had his 15th double-double to lead the Wizards (12-15). John Wall (19 points, 10 assists) had his 16th double-double, Bradley Beal (22 points, three assists) and Otto Porter (17 points, nine rebounds) contributed as well.

George (27 points, nine rebounds) and Jeff Teague (23 points, 10 assists) led the Pacers (15-14). Myles Turner (20 points, eight rebounds, five blocks) and Young (12 points, 11 rebounds) were factors as were C.J. Miles (10 points) and Al Jefferson (10 ponts) off the bench.

--Beal picked up his fourth foul on a reach-in on Turner at 10:33 of the third quarter. He’d missed a runner and had been scoreless after scoring 10 in the second quarter. But Beal, who was defended by George to cool him down, also missed open looks. In the second half, George was incredibly physical with Beal who had difficulty getting free on screens but George picked up his fourth foul by 6:15 of the fourth quarter.

--Turner, a center, was a coverage problem as he was able to get open looks from the arc. He was 8-for-13 from the field, including 1-for-2 from three-point range.

--Teague lived in the paint. He scored 11 of his points in the third quarter when Indiana made its run and took a 88-79 lead entering the fourth. The Wizards entered the game 2-11 when trailing in that situation. They were 9-2 when leading going into the final 12 minutes.

-- Jason Smith returned from a right hamstring injury that kept him out Sunday and he made two open jumpers on his only two shots. He went to the bench after the four minutes because he picked up three fouls. Andrew Nicholson (6 points) filled in.

--Tomas Satoransky has played sparingly, but when Kelly Oubre had a putback off a scramble the opportunity was created by the guard battling with three Pacers. Then Satoransky found Porter slicing for a layup that forced a timeout with the deficit down to 79-75. But Satoransky was beaten in the paint by Teague, biting on his upfake as the Pacers went back up 92-88 and shot an airball on the next play while wide open from three-point range.

[RELATED: Wall grants 'biggest fan's' birthday wish]

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Dwight Howard opts into second year of contract with Wizards

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Dwight Howard opts into second year of contract with Wizards

The Wizards are set to have Dwight Howard back for a second year, as the veteran center informed the team of his plans to exercise the $5.6 million player option in his contract for the 2019-20 season, NBC Sports Washington has confirmed.

Howard, 33, indicated to Wizards brass in his exit meeting last week he was likely to opt in to the second and final year of his deal, but there was some thought he would wait until closer to the June 29 deadline. The reason why is Howard's continued recovery from the back surgery he had in November, a procedure that kept him sidelined for the final five months of the season.

But Howard has now made his intentions known, giving the Wizards a clearer picture of their offseason. With him in the mix, they essentially have five players under contract next season. They technically have six, though Jabari Parker's $20 million team option is essentially a lock to not be picked up.

Howard appeared in only nine games in his first season with the Wizards. He missed all of training camp and their preseason schedule with back issues, played for just over two weeks in November and then went down for the year. He had the surgery, a lumbar microdiscotemy, on Nov. 30. 

Though his time on the floor was brief, he put up solid numbers with averages of 12.8 points and 9.2 rebounds. The Wizards missed his rebounding in particular, as they finished 27th in the league in the category and 28th in rebounds against.

Howard will certainly hope for a better showing in Year 2 with the Wizards, though there may be no guarantee he actually comes back. The Wizards are currently searching for a new general manager, and that person could choose to go in a different direction if ownership permits them to.

Keep in mind last summer Howard was traded soon after Mitch Kupchak took over the Hornets' front office and the Nets bought him out immediately after acquiring him. Howard's $5.6 million salary is relatively inexpensive, as Brooklyn paid $18.9 million to part ways.

Time will tell if Howard's career continues in Washington, but for now he is slated to come back next season for a second year with the Wizards.

ESPN's Zach Lowe first reported the news of Howard opting in.

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How John Wall's injury affects the Wizards' many decisions this summer

How John Wall's injury affects the Wizards' many decisions this summer

With the 2018-19 season in the rearview for the Washington Wizards, we at NBC Sports Washington are analyzing the five biggest questions of what should be the most consequential offseason they have had in years...

NO. 4: HOW WILL JOHN WALL'S CONTRACT AFFECT ROSTER CONSTRUCTION?

Though there are several events this summer that could ultimately define the Wizards' offseason, one storyline will hang over everything and factor into just about every decision made by the front office and whomever ends up leading it as the team's new general manager. That is the future of John Wall, who is set to miss at least most of next season due to a ruptured left Achilles, in what will be the first year of his supermax contract.

Wall had surgery on Feb. 12. Even if he returns one year after going under the knife, he will still miss roughly 50 games next season. When he does come back, there are no guarantees he will be the same player. He turns 29 in September and a ruptured Achilles is a very serious injury, especially for a guy whose game has traditionally been reliant on speed.

The Wizards, of course, hope Wall will regain his peak form, but even if that happens it is unlikely to be the case right away. It may not be until the 2020-21 season until the Wizards get a true read on Wall post-surgery and how much value he can provide while making the money he is due. 

Speaking of the money, Wall will still take up a considerable chunk of the salary cap despite not playing. He is set to earn 35 percent of the cap next season, which right now is projected at about $37.8 million. Though that could technically fluctuate based on the final cap number, the percentage is what matters. The Wizards will basically have to build a roster with only 65 percent of the cap at their disposal.

There is an argument that Wall's injury is one of the biggest roster-building obstacles in NBA history. Supermax contracts, ones that allow players to make a contract that begins at 35 percent of the salary cap, are a new concept. And no one else has suffered such a serious injury while getting paid that type of money. 

It may not be quite what the Brooklyn Nets overcame in the fallout of their infamous trade with the Boston Celtics, the one that resulted in a net loss of three first round picks. But it's a bad situation, one that will require some creativity from whomever is tasked with pulling the Wizards out of it.

The long-term ramifications will depend on how Wall plays when he returns, but the short-term effect will clearly be felt. First, the Wizards have to have an insurance policy at point guard and a good one if they hope to compete for the playoffs. Maybe that is as simple as re-signing Tomas Satoransky, but regardless they have to shore up that position, knowing Wall's status.

Second, the Wizards need to find bargains to fill out the rest of their roster. They will have to find some cheap players simply to reach the 13-player minimum with Bradley Beal's max deal also on the books. Beal will earn roughly $27.1 million next season.

The biggest question as it pertains to Wall may deal with the NBA Draft on June 20. What if the Wizards get some luck in the May 14 draft lottery, but not enough to get the No. 1 pick (i.e. Zion Williamson), and Ja Morant is the best player on the board? Morant, of course, is the Murray State superstar who lit up the NCAA Tournament in March.

Morant is dynamic and has serious star potential, and he plays point guard. Wall was already asked about the potential of the Wizards drafting a point guard with a high pick. He said he would be fine with it, but that when he returns that draft pick can "be a great back-up" to him.

If the Wizards picked Morant, or even Coby White of North Carolina, it would arguably be the smart move to make. They need to select the best player available, no matter the position. 

But if they do take a point guard, that will present a unique dynamic to their locker room, especially if that player turns into a star. What if Morant comes in and lights it up as a rookie? How will Wall deal with that? And could you then put Morant on the bench when Wall returns, as Wall suggests they would?

Those are hypothetical scenarios that can be addressed if they actually enter the equation this summer and beyond. But there is no question that, even as Wall is sidelined with an injury, his presence will loom over the Wizards in many ways.

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