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Takeaways from the Wizards' narrow win over Phoenix Suns

Takeaways from the Wizards' narrow win over Phoenix Suns

Well on their way to a blowout of the Phoenix Suns, the Wizards wasted a 22-point lead, fell down by 11 themselves and had to come back to win 131-127 on Tuesday night to sweep the season series.

The Wizards (38-24) trailed 81-70 midway through the third quarter but righted themselves with a 24-11 run.

The game turned at 10:45 of the second quarter when Jared Dudley took exception to a foul by Jason Smith when he set a hard screen on Tyler Ulis. Dudley ran full speed and chest bumped Smith and Brandon Jennings entered the fray.

Punches weren’t thrown but Dudley and Jennings were ejected. The Wizards led 44-29 shortly after that but had the deficit cut to 68-61 by halftime.

Bradley Beal (27 points) led Washington, followed by John Wall (25 points, 14 assists), Bojan Bogdanovic (29 points, nine rebounds), Jason Smith (17 points, six rebounds) and Ian Mahinmi (15 points, nine rebounds, career-high seven steals). Bogdanovic's 29 points were a season-high for a Wizards reserve.

Phoenix (21-43) was led by Eric Bledsoe (30 points) but had too many players in foul trouble in the end to mount a comeback.

Wall looked sluggish early but finished strong as the Wizards broke open a 110-110 tie with an 8-0 run. They stretched it to double digits in the final two minutes in the first of five road games.

[RELATED: VIDEO: Suns gorilla mascot dives onto court during Wizards game]

--The Suns got back in it because of their transition play. They scored a season-high 53 points on the break, 26 more than the Wizards who weren’t as crisp getting back to stop their rim runs after getting a comfortable lead.

--Devin Booker (25 points) had six turnovers in the first half, and a lot of them came when he was trying to run the pick-and-roll at Mahinmi who is good at containment and has good hands. Mahinmi had five steals alone in his first 14 minutes on the floor.

--Otto Porter, Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris were non-entities. They combined to shoot 5-for-19 from the field. When the Wizards tried to play through Morris and Gortat in the post to open the third quarter they were unsuccessful as Phoenix went on a 15-2 run to take a 76-70 lead. Gortat, however, did make two key plays in the final four minutes when he converted a pass from Wall for a layup and a 115-110 lead and then took a charge on Marquese Chriss (nine points) to negate a basket.

--Morris and Wall were disconnected so badly that during Phoenix’s run in the second quarter, they attempted a switch that led to Bledsoe’s open three. There was a lot of confusion in trying to counter Phoenix’s small lineups. Bledsoe shoots just 33% from three, but when he gets an open shot his accuracy -- like with most players -- rises. He drained it in the comeback from 22 down. Morris wanted the switch. Wall didn't. And Wall allowed a late three-point look from Booker when he hesitated on whether or not to run at the shooter. Fortunately for him, Booker missed but indecisions such as this were why Phoenix made 13 of 27 threes, or 48.1%.

--Trey Burke hadn’t played in the previous four games but Wall needed a breather to end the third. He was quickly stripped by Ulis and committed a foul to put him at the line. Ulis made 1 of 2 free throws but Williams got the rebound on the miss for a putback to make it a three-point play for Phoenix. Burke started the fourth quarter and was short on his first shot. The Wizards lost their lead three minutes into it and had to go to Beal instead.

[RELATED: VIDEO: Shoving match breaks out between Suns and Wizards]

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

The 2018 NBA offseason in just three weeks has become one of the wildest summers in the league's history between LeBron James signing with the Lakers, and all the characters that followed him, to DeMarcus Cousins surprising everyone to sign with the Golden State Warriors, to Kawhi Leonard getting traded to the Raptors.

As crazy as it all has been, two teams in the Eastern Conference stand out for so far doing very little, either by choice or circumstance. The Celtics and Sixers, the two teams most see as the favorites in the East, appear at least so far to be running it back with the same group of players.

This appears to be the Celtics' intention. After overhauling their roster last summer, they clearly see an opportunity to take a step forward as-is. Boston was one win away from the NBA Finals and will return Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving from injury. With James gone to the West, they can improve significanly just by keeping it all together.

Boston re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes. Their biggest addition this summer so far has been their first round pick, Robert Williams.

The Sixers, unlike the Celtics, didn't appear to plan on doing it this way. They wanted James and missed out. They reportedly had interest in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, but both went elsewhere. There are no stars left to sign in free agency and the trade market may be drying up.

Philly made some minor moves like trades for Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala. They may also have a deal for Kyle Korver in the works. They also had two first round picks in Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet.

There's a chance the Sixers got better than people think, as many of the moves they made seem smart. But they didn't reel in a big fish and will probably come back for the 2018-19 season with a team very similar to the one that made the second round of the playoffs this spring.

The fact the Celtics and Sixers may stand pat is probably a good thing for the rest of the East. Both teams may improve naturally if they are healthier and if their young players continue to ascend. But neither made a game-changing addition, one that would solidify either as an unstoppable superteam in the conference. 

The West is overloaded with title contenders and All-NBA players. The East, meanwhile, is much more open and it may end up staying that way mainly because Boston and Philly have been quiet so far this summer.

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Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld has stayed relatively busy this summer crafting his new-look lineup for the 2018-19 season. 

One of the team's key additions, Dwight Howard, is set to be introduced as a member of the Wizards on Monday. 

NBC Sports Washington will air the introductory press conference live at 1 p.m. while also streaming it online.  

Ernie Grunfeld and head coach Scott Brooks are both expected to be in attendance. 

The 32-year-old big man is coming off a 2017-18 season with the Charlotte Hornets in which he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. 

Since leaving the Orlando Magic after eight seasons in 2011, Howard has played for four different teams in the last six years. 

Howard is an eight-time all-star and a three-time defensive player of the year. 

 

RELATED LINKS: 

John Wall's take on Dwight Howard 

Wizards make Dwight Howard free agent signing official 

By the numbers: Is new Wizards center Dwight Howard still in his NBA prime?