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Takeaways from Wizards' loss to Cavs to snap home winning streak

Takeaways from Wizards' loss to Cavs to snap home winning streak

The Wizards' home streak is over at Verizon Center following Monday’s 140-135 overtime loss to the East’s No. 1 team, but they at least proved that they belonged in their most exciting game of the season.

Markieff Morris' putback of John Wall's layup almost was the game-winning shot with 12.2 seconds left as LeBron James missed a layup — and took four steps to get there — that could've put his team back ahead. But after Wall made two free throws, James banked in an improbable three-pointer with three-tenths of a second left to force the extra session.

It was the Wizards' second announced sellout of the season as they failed to avenge a 105-94 loss here to the Cavaliers on Nov. 11 when they were a very different team.

Bradley Beal, who was out injured for that game, exploded (41 points) but made the clutch play of the game at 4:13 in overtime when he drew James' sixth foul to send him to the bench for good. But Kyrie Irving's five-point outburst — after a 7-0 run post-James — created the separation needed.

Otto Porter (25 points), John Wall (22 points, 12 assists), Markieff Morris (15 points) and Marcin Gortat (16 points, eight rebounds) were the supporting cast, and Kelly Oubre (11 points, four steals) came off the bench to wreak havoc on both ends. 

Oubre drained a three for a 127-122 lead in overtime. 

Neither team could pull away as each shot better than 50 percent from the field for the first three quarters. But after a series of threes from James (32 points, 17 rebounds, seven assists) had the Cavaliers ahead late in the fourth, it was threes from Beal and then Porter to put them up 110-107 with three minutes left.

The Cavs responded with threes from Kyle Korver (13 points) and Kevin Love (39 points, 12 rebounds) to go ahead 116-112 the last 1:32. Then Beal tied the score at 116 with 43.8 seconds left after Gortat blocked James at the rim.

Love had a 15-point outburst in the third to get Cleveland (35-15) back on top 86-82 entering the fourth. James set up everyone else and Tristan Thompson (22 points, 12 rebounds) cleaned up in the paint, but Irving (23 points) was relatively speaking held in check by Wall until the extra period when he put Cleveland up for good with two foul shots, 138-135 with 10.2 seconds left.

--Unlike in the first meeting, when Wall had 23 points in the first half because there was no Beal to spread the floor, he lived in the paint. Even though his final numbers weren’t spectacular, the open shots were generated by his penetration to break down the defense.

--The second unit, with Beal and Morris starting the fourth, got the Wizards ahead. Beal had mismatches when defended by Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye attempting to contain him off the dribble. Oubre came on defense as he jumped a passing lane to Korver and got on the end of a fast break to finish a dunk thanks to a steal and assist from Tomas Satoransky.   

--When the Wizards went to the small-ball lineup with Porter as the “stretch” option, they again had difficulty dealing with Love who’d post him up.  Love had a fade across the lane midway through the fourth, but Porter responded. Oubre, however, picked up his fourth foul at 6:15 getting caught on Love in the same spot for a three-point play.

--Morris picked up his second foul at 7:26 of the first quarter defending Love. Morris sparked the Wizards with his assist to Beal for an open three early in the third and his close out of Love on the three-point arc that led to him getting a charge.  But after shooting an airball three himself, Morris picked up his third at 7:35 of the third setting a screen. Morris was hit with his fifth with 9:36 left fighting off a screen. He fouled out in the OT, as did Oubre.

--The hard trap of the ball led to passes to Thompson, who was setting most of the screens, diving to the basket. He was 6 of 8 in the first half which actually was a good thing for the Wizards. That meant less three-point bombs and shots for Irving and James.

-- Porter is undersized when defending James, but he was perfect on the offensive end making 5 of 5 shots, including all three looks from three-point range, and created for others. James closed him out hard in the corner and Porter attack dribbled, drew the help defenders and delivered a bounce pass to Morris for a layup for a 53-48 lead. On the next possession, Wall had a bad pass turnover to James but Porter got back and in front of the full-speed rush and stripped the ball off of his leg to get possession back. 

[RELATED: VIDEO: LeBron throws down huge dunk, Morris loses shoe]

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76ers' Ben Simmons diagnosed with partial dislocation of the left kneecap

76ers' Ben Simmons diagnosed with partial dislocation of the left kneecap

After exiting the 76ers-Wizards matchup early Wednesday night, Ben Simmons was diagnosed with subluxation of the left patella on Thursday.

Simmons left the game during the third quarter and did not return. The injury occurred after he grabbed an offensive rebound and dribbled to the corner to pass to Al Horford in the post. Following the play, he began flexing his left leg and left for the locker room. Simmons was seen walking gingerly in street clothes minutes later.  

Before leaving the game, Simmons recorded eight points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals in 23 minutes.

Simmons’ diagnosis of a partially dislocated kneecap leaves him out indefinitely as he and the team consider treatment options. He has already been ruled out of Philadelphia’s game against the Orlando Magic on Friday. However, his MRI showed no ligament damage in the knee, which leaves him optimistic to return later in the playoffs.

His knee injury is not the only injury Simmons has had to overcome this season. He also missed the final eight games before the NBA’s hiatus with a nerve impingement in his lower back, but fully recovered before the restart began.

Playing without an All-Star player will be a challenge for Philadelphia, but the team has proven successful thus far in Orlando. The Sixers have gone 2-1 in the bubble and currently trail the Indiana Pacers by one game for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference and are two games behind the Miami Heat for fourth. 

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Kevin Durant gives his NBA Finals predictions

Kevin Durant gives his NBA Finals predictions

While a number of teams are fighting to be the favorite heading into the NBA Playoffs, the Los Angeles Clippers picked up a key endorsement from Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant.

When asked who he thought will win it all this year, Durant chose the Clippers defeating the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals and upsetting the No. 1 seed Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. 

"They're just so deep," Durant said of the Clippers on “Play For Keeps” podcast. "They haven't had their whole team together at once for a long period of time yet, and that talent is just undeniable. When you have [Paul George] and Kawhi [Leonard] at the wings, that's what you need to win is wings. You got those two at the wings, arguably top three, top four at the wing position on one team."

So far in Orlando, the Clippers have gone 1-2 after defeating the New Orleans Pelicans and falling to the Lakers and Phoenix Suns. As of now, they hold the two-seed in the Western Conference playoff picture and would face the Dallas Mavericks in the first round. However, they are currently just a half a game ahead of the Denver Nuggets with five seeding games remaining.

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The Lakers clinched the one-seed last week and are up six games in the standings over their cross-town rivals.

ESPN’s playoff odds gave the Clippers a 10% chance of winning it all. They ranked third behind the Bucks with a 49.7% chance and the Lakers at 18.7%. 

Durant chose Los Angeles over his own team, the Brooklyn Nets, who are also in a good position to make the playoffs as the current seven-seed in the East Conference. However, the Nets are playing in Orlando without eight players including a number of starters like Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie and Durant, who missed the entire regular season after tearing his Achilles during the 2019 NBA Finals.

If his team retains the seven-seed heading into the playoffs, they would likely face the Toronto Raptors, who Durant projected would fall to Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference Finals.

But regardless of seeding, Durant acknowledged it’s still anyone’s game.

“I hate doing that s---,” he said about predicting a winner. “You never know what could happen – you seen that with us last year.”

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