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Takeaways from Wizards' narrow win over Kings, Beal's big night

Takeaways from Wizards' narrow win over Kings, Beal's big night

Not much had been going right for the Wizards, who were turnover- and foul-prone from the opening tip Monday. But they one-upped the Sarcamento Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins with Bradley Beal in a 101-95 overtime win.

Cousins (36 points, 20 rebounds) made some difficult shots being defended mostly by Marcin Gortat away from the rim, but Beal shot 7-for-13 from three-point range to lead the Wizards with 31 points. His seven threes are a new career-high.

The Wizards (6-10) had 24 turnovers in a game that had no flow for the first three quarters. Their defense then took over from there, holding the Kings to 20 points in the fourth quarter and just three points in overtime.

Otto Porter (15 points, 8 rebounds), John Wall (19 points, 11 assists) and Kelly Oubre (10 points, 10 rebounds) filled out the box score behind Beal.

Rudy Gay (18 points) and Ty Lawson (12 points) also contributed for Sacramento (7-11).

-- Perhaps forcing the issue too much in an attempt to get whistles and to the foul line, Wall had eight turnovers in the first half alone, accounting for more than half of their 14 at that point. He only had two free throws to show for it. That Garrett Temple, a defensive specialist who spent four-plus seasons in D.C., is now with Sacramento might’ve had something to do with the preparation. Wall ended up with 11 in the game.

--Porter, Marcin Gortat and Jason Smith each had three fouls before halftime. Twenty-five personal fouls were issued in just two quarters, as well as three technical (Scott Brooks, Gortat and Wall) which led to 36 free throws. In all, there were 47 fouls called and 52 free throws.

-- Beal had gone two games – a total of 76 minutes – without a foul shot. In the first three quarters here, he played 26 minutes and was in attack mode. Even though the officials were liberal blowing the whistle, Beal still hadn’t attempted one. At the three-minute mark of the fourth, Beal finally went but missed both. It ended a 108-minute drought, but he didn't get to the stripe again in the game.

-- The Wizards regained the lead 74-72 entering the fourth because of Smith’s best stretch of play this season. He knocked down a mid-range jumper when the Kings doubled Tomas Satornasky when he tried to post Lawson. Then Smith blocked Lawson on the other end which sparked a transition layup from Wall to tie the score at 72. With 44 seconds left in the third, Smith drew a charge on Gay to negate a possession.

--Marcus Thornton didn’t play, denoting a possible change in the rotation for Brooks.

-- Oubre had trouble staying on the court recently because Brooks said he wasn’t ready when he entered. That’s why he has had a quick hook in the previous game with San Antonio. That wasn’t an issue as he contributed immediately more with his effort and defense. He went up for an offensive rebound on a miss by Trey Burke and swatted it out. Beal drained a three to put the Wizards up 82-78 with 8:39 left in the fourth. Oubre’s two free throws for an 88-80 lead gave him his first career double-double. 


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John Wall takes another step in rehab, facing teammates in practice

John Wall takes another step in rehab, facing teammates in practice

WASHINGTON -- The steady progress continues for John Wall in his rehab from a ruptured left Achilles tendon, as the Wizards point guard is now facing teammates in 4-on-4 drills at practice.

Head coach Scott Brooks described the games as "controlled," noting they were not full-speed or with contact and featured a 10-second shot clock. But that remains a notable step in his road back after he had previously been playing mostly against player development coaches.

"He practiced for the whole practice. He looked great," Brooks said. "There is still a ways to go. But his energy, his enthusiasm, his strength [looks good]. His shot looks better."

Wall, 29, hasn't played in a game since Dec. 26 of 2018. He had surgery on his Achilles on Feb. 12, 2019. He is currently over 11 months into what is typically an 11-to-15 month recovery.

Brooks, though, makes a point to couch positive updates about Wall with patience. The team has indicated he may not play at all this season.

"I don't know if he plays this year," Brooks said. "We can be patient and we're going to be patient because we need him to be right for a lot of years. This is his career and we know how serious that injury is. He's taking it serious."

Part of the equation is the financial commitment the Wizards have made in Wall. He is due roughly $131.5 million over the next three seasons. They want to make sure he is good to go not just for this year, but that he can be effective for the remainder of his contract.

According to Brooks, even having Wall back to this level has added some positive energy to the Wizards' organization.

"I know the excitement is around because he's around and he's looking [good]," Brooks said. "When he comes back, he's going to be the John Wall we all love."

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5 observations about the Wizards at the midway point of the 2019-20 season

5 observations about the Wizards at the midway point of the 2019-20 season

The Wizards' 29-point loss to the Raptors on Friday night was the 41st game of the year, meaning Washington's 2019-20 regular season is officially halfway through.

With that in mind, here are five observations from the season so far; some expected and some unexpected...

They are who we thought they were

In some ways, this season has gone exactly how most thought it would. Bradley Beal has been an All-Star level player, but poor defense and an inexperienced roster around him has led to a team headed safely towards the lottery. They are 13-28 after 41 games, meaning they are on pace to win 26 on the season.

That's about what Vegas predicted, as evidenced by over/under win totals that stayed around 28.5. And that's what most reasonable forecasts had them being; a team with intriguing talent that was probably a year away from contending for the playoffs again.

Sheppard has found some guys

The early returns on the Tommy Sheppard era are good and that should be seen as one of the most important positives of this season so far. Just look at the gems he has acquired in a relatively short period of time as general manager. He drafted Rui Hachimura, a plug-and-play guy, with the ninth overall pick. He got Davis Bertans, Moe Wagner and Isaac Bonga in trades basically for nothing. 

He got Garrison Mathews out of nowhere. He signed Ish Smith instead of giving more money to Tomas Satoransky. And even his minor deals with guys like Anzejs Pasecniks and Gary Payton II have impressed to a degree.

It is very early in his tenure, but Sheppard is showing he has the ability to find diamonds in the rough, a skill that is one of the biggest separators between GMs.

It has also become evident on social media that Sheppard is gaining some clout among fans. Given the previous distrust in the front office, that is definitely worth noting.

The injuries have been ridiculous

Though injuries happen to every team and they are ultimately no excuse, the health of the Wizards has undoubtedly been a major part of their season to this point. They have had as many as eight players missing at times due to injury, or in other words more than half of their roster.

That has included two hardship exceptions and the players acquired as a result were even starting at times. Their best players have been hurt, even Beal who had previously played 194 straight games. Lately, they have been getting healthy, but the rash of injuries was enough to leave its mark on their 2019-20 campaign as a whole.

Beal may or may not be sold on the future

Though this season has mostly gone as expected, it has been fair to wonder how Beal has handled it all, given he is far and away their best player. He signed a contract extension to be part of this, but he's used to winning more games and it's only natural for him to be frustrated with how things have gone.

Beal backed up those theories with his comments this week about the team's culture, and the whole situation is going to be worth watching closely moving forward. The Wizards' best player appears to be a bit anxious about the franchise's future. Whether they can match their timeline to contend with his remains to be seen.

The Wall thing is going to get interesting

This was also pretty easy to call going into this season. Now over 11 months into his recovery from a ruptured Achilles, John Wall is making steady progress towards a return and the debates of whether he should come back this season or not are coming into focus. 

The discourse was taken up a notch recently with NBC Sports Washington's report about him playing in three-on-three scrimmages, and then again days after with video of those games. Though he isn't quite ready to come back, he is looking good and there are still three months remaining in the Wizards' season. 

Will he be ready one month from now, or two? Even if he is, will the Wizards bring him back or wait until next season? Those are major questions with no easy answers.