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Takeaways from Wizards' loss to Minnesota Timberwolves to end road trip

Takeaways from Wizards' loss to Minnesota Timberwolves to end road trip

The table was set perfectly for the Wizards to chance at 5-0 on a road trip for the first time in franchise history. They trailed by 21 for the second game in a row.

The Wizards (41-25), after erasing an 11-point deficit to beat the Phoenix Suns, a 15-point deficit to the Sacramento Kings and 21 to the Portland Trail Blazers, lost 119-104 to end a five-game winning streak at Target Center on Monday night.

John Wall (27 points, five assists) led Washington but it still had trouble getting stops as the Timberwolves shot 45-for-86, or 52.3%, including 10-for-21 from three-point range (47.6%).

Karl-Anthony Towns (39 points, 13 rebounds) led all scorers as Minnesota (28-38) never trailed. Five other players had double figures, with Ricky Rubio (22 points, career-high 19 assists) setting the table. Nemanja Bjelica (16 points, 10 rebounds) sparked the second unit.

A lob to Markieff Morris (11 points, seven rebounds) cut the deficit to 102-96 in the fourth quarter but Towns was too much down the stretch. He made a three-pointer and then two free throws to push the lead back to double digits and seal it.

Andrew Wiggins (15 points) had 41 points in their first meeting but was held relatively in check as he shot 5-for-15. 

Bradley Beal (20 points, seven rebounds), Otto Porter (11 points, six rebounds) and Bojan Bogdanovic (12 points) rounded out Washington’s effort. Marcin Gortat (seven points, four rebounds) was limited to 23 minutes of action.

[RELATED: Wall hits circus shot from the ground vs. Wolves]

--Wall got the whistles. He went out of his way to create contact and he was able to get to the foul line and shoot 14-for-19. In the previous game, he was 10 of 12. 

--The Wizards couldn’t turn any of the Timberwolves’ early turnovers into points. They only had three off their first 11. During one, Beal had a breakaway dunk but missed it in the third quarter. In the end,they had just nine points off 15 giveaways from Minnesota. 

--Porter passed on at least two potentially good looks from three on catch-and-shoots. He opted to put the ball on the floor to attack the defender but wasn’t as successful. The NBA's leading three-point shooter only went 5-for-12 overall and only took three threes. The Timberwolves have had the league's best defense since the All-Star break in points per game allowed and field-goal percentage.

--Beal’s minutes were restricted to 33 in Portland despite that being an overtime game. He logged 38 tonight but only shot 3-for-11 from three-point range.

--Ian Mahinmi (five points, seven rebounds) defended Towns when the Wizards made their runs, but he’s not used to defending a big who shoots threes. He hesitated on a closeout late in the fourth that produced a three for Towns and a 105-97 lead. Mahinmi fouled out with 3:24 left after 21 minutes of play. Towns' next three, with Mahinmi off the floor, stretched the lead to 110-98.

--Bogdanovic and Beal were 4-for-17 shooting threes, and as a team they were 7-for-26. Overall, Bogdanovic and Beal shot 10-for-31 which is why the offense couldn't overcome the deficit. Still, the Wizards broke 100 points for the 32nd time in 33 games.

[RELATED: Film study: Anatomy of Wizards' about-face]

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Former Wizard Jared Dudley: Time for a Wizards shake-up

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Former Wizard Jared Dudley: Time for a Wizards shake-up

Jared Dudley spent one season with the Washington Wizards. The core pieces on the current roster were there during that 2015-16 campaign. Based on that prior experience and a first-hand look Friday night, the Brooklyn Nets forward offered a candid assessment of the 5-10 squad. 

"I’m seeing a team that has been together too long,” Dudley told NBC Sports Washington following the Wizards’ 115-104 home loss. “They haven’t made progress, so it’s time to change things over there.”

John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter were teammates of Dudley for a full season. Markieff Morris joined the roster at the 2016 trade deadline. Washington failed to make the playoffs that season, but qualified in each of the next two and has reached the postseason in four of the five last years. 

The Wizards did not advance beyond the second round during any of those postseason appearances and lost in the first round last season after a 43-39 regular season. Following a 2-9 start, Washington won three in a row before falling to a scrappy Nets team that lost leading scorer Caris Levert earlier in the week to a gruesome ankle injury.

Dudley started and played 22 minutes in Brooklyn's win. The 12-year veteran's opinion on Washington included suggestions like extended use of a small-ball lineup. 

“I think (they have) good players, but sometimes, good players need different situations. For them, I think that it’s tough the way the league is changing. They play two bigs,” Dudley said about the combination of power forward Markieff Morris and center Dwight Howard. “In this day in age, Otto needs to play more four because he’s tall enough, more spacing.”

Facing a Brooklyn defense that leads the league in opponent mid-range shots, Washington often settled for such looks. The Wizards attempted a season-low 18 three-point attempts. 

The NBA rumor mill continually attempts to plot a new course for the Wizards. New York Times NBA insider Marc Stein reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves tried to “engage” Washington in trade talks for Jimmy Butler before shipping the All-Star guard to Philadelphia. “But the Wizards have kept Beal off limits amid their 4-9 start,” Stein reported earlier this week. “They would naturally prefer to trade the struggling Otto Porter, or perhaps even John Wall, but both possess hard-to-move contracts.”

Dudley sees the logic of moving at least one of those three players.

“I think they’ve had enough time, but they really haven’t (broken) through,” Dudley said. “I can see by the All-Star break or summer time one of these pieces moving. It’s going to be good for them. If it’s John, or Otto or Brad, one of them three, I think their next move is going to be good for both teams."
 

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Kelly Oubre Jr. is ready to 'take over the world' with new Converse shoe deal

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Kelly Oubre Jr. is ready to 'take over the world' with new Converse shoe deal

Kelly Oubre Jr. takes his style very seriously, perhaps to a point even further than the most fashionable of NBA players. He wants to be a figure in the industry someday as a designer of his own shoes and clothing line.

So when he approached the process of brokering a new shoe contract, he took into consideration factors that went well beyond the average player and outside of the mainstream. He wanted more than a basketball shoe. He wanted a lifestyle brand and a partnership that wasn't solely about basketball.

Oubre left Adidas to sign a new mutli-year deal this week with Nike and Converse. He will wear Nike shoes in the meantime, until a concept made by Converse is ready for game action. Then, he will become the only NBA player to wear the brand on the floor.

"Everyone knows me and I'm a different individual," he said. "Converse is reinventing themselves in the basketball world. I will be the only athlete this year flying the flag. I'm very excited to be able to represent."

Converse has a history in the game of basketball, of course. Before Nike and Adidas took over, Converse was the dominant brand for most of the 20th century, up until the 1980s. Their Chuck Taylor All Stars maintain a legacy today in the casual shoe market.

The deep basketball history of Converse appealed to Oubre.

"It's old school. It started with basketball, then it went to the rock stage, then it went to people wearing them without any thought to what the foundation of the brand was," he said.

Oubre said there is no release date yet for the new-age Converse basketball shoe. He expects to have some input on the design of future shoes and said it's part of why he chose them.

Oubre plans to begin his own clothing line at some point with the working title of 'Dope Soul.' He told NBC Sports Washington on Friday that it is "coming soon," but couldn't provide any further details. 

Oubre had restrictions under his previous contract with Adidas and had been looking forward to finding a new deal that would allow for such things. It sounds like he may be afforded that freedom.

For now, with Converse, Oubre is excited to chart a new path with an unconventional company.

"You can't really define Converse because we've done everything and we're about to take over the world," he said.