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Takeaways from Wizards' loss to Miami Heat after botched final-minute play

Takeaways from Wizards' loss to Miami Heat after botched final-minute play

The style matchup with the Miami Heat will almost always be a problem for the Wizards, and Saturday wasn’t any different as they lose for the third time in three meetings in the regular-season home finale, 106-103, at Verizon Center. It was the seventh sellout.

Markieff Morris (21 points), John Wall (16 points, eight assists) and Bradley Beal (16 points) led Washington (48-32), which has two games remaining at the Detroit Pistons and at Miami before the playoffs begin.

The Heat (39-41) kept their playoff hopes alive while Washington lost its grip on the No. 3 seed.

The Wizards couldn’t contain Hassan Whiteside (30 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks), who had help from Tyler Johnson (19 points), Goran Dragic (18 points, seven assists) and James Johnson (15 points, 11 rebounds and five assists).

James Johnson’s drive for a layup was the winning basket that put Miami ahead for good 104-103.

Beal had a chance to tie the score and force overtime at the end but couldn’t get off a clean shot as Whiteside switched onto him to prevent an attempt.

--Turnovers were the difference. Wall and Beal were turnover prone which kept Miami in the game early despite their slow start. They combined for 13 of 20 for the team and that led to 21 points the other way. Before Kelly Oubre's disastrous inbound in the final seconds, the most costly one came on a simple pass from Wall to Beal with 1:43 left. It went out of bounds.

--Otto Porter (back spasms) missed his third game of the seasons as Oubre (12 points, six rebounds) started in his place. Oubre didn’t score in the first half but his primary role was defensive. But where not having Porter hurt the Wizards most was on inbound play with 11 seconds left. He opted to lead Wall, who had gotten free of Richardson, with the pass that was errant. Wall had curled to the ball and Richardson collected it, was fouled and went to the line to make both free throws for the game’s final points.

--The Heat were switching smalls onto Morris. He made them pay for that late by making postups over Tyer Johnson and Josh Richardson (10 points, five steals). Morris scored 12 of his points in the fourth Morris, who missed the last game with a sore ankle, had a three-pointer to give the Wizards a 90-86 lead and tie the score at 100. But when Morris had to get a stop on James Johnson, he allowed the versatile forward to go downhill for what proved to be the winning basket. Johnson received the ball in the backcourt, went full speed and Morris only retreated into the paint. When Johnson made a counter move to get to his left hand, he met no resistance at the rim. Marcin Gortat wasn't able to help as he pinned himself to Whiteside to prevent a putback. 

--Dragic scored a season-high 34 points in the last meeting Dec. 12. Marked by Oubre from the opening tip, Dragic had three first-half points as he began 1-for-5. A physical, 6-5 point guard who is left-hand dominant, Dragic couldn’t get free of Oubre who is bigger and has a 7-2 wingspan. He did have a better second half but didn’t take over.

--Whiteside was a matchup problem for Gortat (11 points, 11 rebounds). Ian Mahinmi (11 points, nine rebounds, two steals) played just 18 minutes -- 11 fewer than Gortat -- and fared better. 

[RELATED: VIDEO: Projected NBA top pick Markelle Fultz goes 1-on-1]

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John Wall shares fear of being pulled over by police, experiences growing up with racial discrimination

John Wall shares fear of being pulled over by police, experiences growing up with racial discrimination

As people around the country continue to protest police brutality and racial injustices against black people, athletes continue to add their powerful voices and experiences to the cause.

Wizards guard John Wall joined in the conversation, discussing the fear he continues to have about being pulled over by the police. For many black Americans, the reality of racial discrimination makes the mere thought of being pulled over more daunting than it should be. Apparently that anxiety doesn’t dissipate just because you’re a star athlete.

“If I get pulled over right now, I’m terrified,” Wall said on Thursday’s episode of The Athletic’s “Hoops, Adjacent” podcast. “To be realistic. If I’m in a dark area, or a back street, I’m not stopping. I’ll go to a high-speed chase to get to a spot where it’s a grocery store, or somewhere where there’s a lot of lights at, because that’s how terrifying it is.”

To some, it may be jarring to hear a recognizable, millionaire athlete discuss his fear of the police, but the money and acclaim don't provide a shield from racism. And for many black people, the fear is instilled at a young age, either through personal experiences or those of people with the same skin color. In the age of camera phones, more and more incidents are being recorded for the world to see.

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George Floyd was suffocated and killed by a white police officer in Minnesota who put a knee to his neck for over eight minutes. Breonna Taylor was shot at least eight times and killed in her own home by police in Louisville. Ahmaud Arbery was shot to death by a white father and son while jogging in a Georgia neighborhood.

“You’re telling me if I want to be a black kid to jog in a neighborhood, and I say, ‘Ok, I want to cut through this white neighborhood, this rich neighborhood,’ and then all of a sudden, I’m targeted to get killed?” Wall continued. “Because I don’t belong there? Those are the kind of things I grew up with, like you wouldn’t go to this side of town where you wasn’t allowed. Why? We breathe the same air.”

Wall, who grew up in Raleigh, N.C., said the constant acts of racial discrimination have been frustrating and that all people want to see is justice. 

“I feel like this has been going on for decades, been going on for so much longer than the time I’ve been on this earth,” he said. “But if we didn’t have social media or camera phones right now, we wouldn’t be able to see this act going on.”

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver confident one positive COVID-19 diagnosis won't derail NBA's return plan

NBA commissioner Adam Silver confident one positive COVID-19 diagnosis won't derail NBA's return plan

The NBA now has a concrete plan to return to action, but there are still obstacles that will need solving when play resumes. One of the most important will be the health and safety of players amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Specifically, the league will need to know how to handle the possibility of a positive COVID-19 virus diagnosis. With a large number of individuals destined to be in close proximity in Orlando, could one player testing positive derail the entire plan? Would that team then have to be eliminated due to the potential risk they carry?

According to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, that will not be the case.

“The answer is we don’t believe we would need to," Silver told Charles Barkley on TNT's Inside the NBA, referring to the idea of having to eliminate a team due to a positive coronavirus result.

Silver's confidence stems from the vast amount of research and preparation the league has done to get to this stage in the return process. Not only have NBA officials detailed plans of action, but SIlver and others are working closely with health experts in Florida to make sure things go smoothly.

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Based on what they've heard so far, one positive test won't be the end-all for the NBA. If a player were to be diagnosed with COVID-19, the league knows the exact procedure to keep others safe.

“The view is that if we are testing every day and we are able to trace, in essence, the contacts the player has had," Silver said. "We are able to, in essence, contain that player and separate that from his team.”

The commissioner explained that the NBA is continuing to test on a daily basis, and that won't change anytime soon. The threat of coronavirus impacting the league's return is strong, but Silver and the NBA are confident that they'll be able to overcome any issues and have the season play out in a safe manner.

"The belief is we would not have to shut down if a single player tested positive," Silver said. 

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