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Takeaways from Wizards' lopsided loss to Golden State Warriors

Takeaways from Wizards' lopsided loss to Golden State Warriors

Although Stephen Curry won’t win the MVP for the third year in a row, he’s playing like one again. Sunday, he was the best player on the floor from start to finish as Golden State handed the Wizards their third consecutive loss to end a five-game road trip, 139-115 at Oracle Arena.

Curry (42 points, eight assists) seemingly made every shot regardless of difficulty as the Warriors (63-14) won their 11th game in a row.

The Wizards (46-31) finish the trip 2-3 and had trimmed the deficit to 55-53 with 2:11 left in the second quarter until a 12-4 run by Golden State put them up by double digits going into halftime.

John Wall (15 points, 11 assists) and Bradley Beal (20 points) led Washington but it couldn’t keep pace. Otto Porter (13 points, six rebounds), Markieff Morris (13 points) and Bojan Bogdanovic (20 points) also contributed.

Thompson (23 points) and Shaun Livingtson (17 points) helped Curry’s efforts, and Draymond Green (11 points, 13 assists, 12 rebounds) did everything else. Four other players scored at least eight points.

With five games left, the Wizards are now firmly planted as the No. 4 seed unless the Toronto Raptors (47-30), who own the tiebreaker as the No. 3 seed, trip up down the stretch.

--Wall had consecutive assists in the third quarter, one on a dunk for Porter and another on a spot-up three, to put him at 802. That moved him past Rod Strickland who had 801 in 1997-98.

--The second unit went on an 8-0 run to start the fourth, cutting what had been a 22-point deficit to 106-96 with 9:08 left. Tomas Satoransky, who hadn’t played in the previous three games, had a layup in transition to force the timeout by Warriors coach Steve Kerr.  The second unit finished the game as it had trimmed it to 116-107 and the starters stayed on the bench.

--Kelly Oubre blanketed Thompson, who wasn’t a factor after he made a three-pointer to spot the Warriors a 6-0 lead. Curry made 7 of 10 threes to start so Oubre took the assignment on him in the third quarter but the game had gotten away. Thompson eventually got free and hurt them, too. Oubre only shot 2-for-11 and couldn’t make the Warriors pay for hiding Curry on him defensively during stretches.

--Porter went scoreless in the first half in missing all three of his shots. He opened the third quarter by scoring the Wizards’ first six point with a three-pointer and converting a three-point play.

--Beal played in his 73rd game to equal his career-high from his sophomore season.  He has missed just four games because of a sprained ankle (one) and a thigh strain (three). Last season, the Wizards were one of the NBA’s most injured teams with Beal playing a career-low 55 games.

--Taking shots away from Curry and Thompson is a key to being able to beat Golden State. In other words, make other players do the job. Early on the Wizards got the right players to take the shots they wanted but Andre Igoudala made 3 of 4, JaVale McGee started 2-for-2, Livingston 5 of 7 in the first half when they scored 67 points.

--Marcin Gortat (seven points, three rebounds) continued to see his production dip as he only played 15 minutes and got up just five shots. Because Golden State plays so many small lineups, Ian Mahinmi (eight points, three assists) earned more time with 21 minutes. Daniel Ochefu played the final two minutes.

--Did Golden State try to run up the score? The Wizards didn't play any starters in the fourth quarter, and after they made a run and the Warriors were cruising ot a double-digit victory Curry remained. Green re-entered to get a basket for a triple-double. Angry at McGee for launching a three-pointer rather than running out the clock at the end, Brandon Jennings (nine points, seven rebounds) picked up a flagrant foul with a two-hand shove. 

[RELATED: Kevin Durant praises Kelly Oubre Jr.]

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The same day the Mystics clinched a playoff spot, Natasha Cloud made some history of her own

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USA Today

The same day the Mystics clinched a playoff spot, Natasha Cloud made some history of her own

Ladies and gentlemen, it doesn't get much better than this. 

The same night the Mystics clinched a playoff spot with an 86-79 win over the Minnesota Lynx, Natasha Cloud made some history of her own.

With 8:25 left in the first quarter, Cloud hit an open Elena Della Donne who finished strongly at the basket. With the pass, Cloud became the franchise's all-time leader in assists. 

Drafted by the Mystics back in 2015, Cloud has been integral to the team's rise to the top of the standings. She's averaging a career-high 5.4 assists and 8.8 points while leading the team in minutes at 32.3 per game. 

Needless to say, her teammates were excited for her. 

Hopefully, this magical season will finish with a championship, redeeming the Mystics of their 2018 Finals loss. 

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As Monumental Basketball gets underway, Mystics are leading the charge

As Monumental Basketball gets underway, Mystics are leading the charge

Monumental Basketball, the new vertical that encompasses the NBA's Wizards, the Capital City Go-Go of the G-League, the Mystics of the WNBA and District Gaming of the NBA 2K League, is designed to help all of the respective teams owned and operated by Ted Leonsis and his partners. The Mystics, though, don't need nearly as much assistance as the others.

Sitting atop the WNBA with a league-best 18-7 record, the Mystics look well on their way to another deep playoff run. Last year, it ended in a loss in the WNBA Finals. This year, they have an even better roster capable of winning it all.

On Wednesday, the Mystics routed the Seattle Storm, last year's champions, by 29 points. They did so despite missing All-Star point guard Kristi Tolliver and with their best player, Elena Delle Donne, scoring 14 points. They might be the deepest team in the WNBA with a bench that is starting lineup-caliber.

The Mystics have already arrived, but it took some time to get here. When head coach and general manager Mike Thibault took over in 2013, they had won 11 total games the previous two years. Five years later, they were title contenders.

Leonsis wants to see the same upward trajectory for his other teams. Thibault believes the new program can help everyone get on track.

"The overall structure can be so good when you are inclusive and you have services that are available to everybody," Thibault told NBC Sports Washington. 

"I think that one of the things that I learned in trying to rebuild the Mystics is that you need a lot of hands to make it work. I go back to the days where you had a head coach and one or two assistants. The game has changed so much. If you can make a player coming in, whether it’s to the Mystics or the Wizards, feel like they are a part of something bigger."

Thibault, 68, knows what good organizations look like, as he has been a part of many over the years. He was a scout for the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1980s during their dynasty. He later worked for the Chicago Bulls and oversaw the scouting department when they drafted Michael Jordan. It wasn't until the 2000s that he joined the WNBA ranks, first with a successful run as coach of the Connecticut Sun before coming to Washington.

Thibault believes the player services arm of Monumental Basketball will be particularly helpful.

"Let’s say you’re traded to the Wizards. You’re coming from a different city and it’s a new environment. Your family has to move and you have kids. That’s a whole thing in and of itself," he explained.

"What can we do for their post-career ability? Do they want to be a coach? Do they want to go into broadcasting, or business? There are so many things you can do to enhance how comfortable a player and a family is coming to an organization. It’s something that just makes you special as an organization."

Thibault says some of benefits Monumental Basketball will provide have already been utilized by the Mystics, including mental health professionals and nutritionists. What can help the Mystics in particular is more synergy with the Wizards.

This is the first season the Mystics are playing at the new arena at St. Elizabeth's in Southeast Washington. They now share a practice facility and office space with the Wizards. Thibault believes there are positives to feeling part of a larger operation.

"I think our players already sense that," he said. "You see Wizards players, you see Tommy Sheppard and others at our games. That makes you feel like you’re a part of a bigger thing. We have a dining room where all of the players can socialize in both of the organizations."

When the creation of Monumental Basketball was announced, Leonsis noted Thibault will have a certain level of autonomy in what he does. Some of the executives hired by the organization like John Thompson III, who will help with player wellness, and Dr. Daniel Medina, who will assist in training and health, will provide services to the Mystics. But Thibault will pick the players and set the vision for basketball operations.

Thibault, though, knows Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard well and thinks the team is in good hands.

"He’s got ideas. He’s very forward thinking. I think he’s a great judge of personnel and character. I think he’s very thorough in what he does," Thibault said. 

"I think that when you’re trying to build an organization, there are process you have to go through and steps you have to take to be good. I think he knows you have to have patience to do that. I think if fans give him the chance to do what he’s great at, they will see the results over time. It might take time, but he will get them there."

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