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Takeaways from Wizards' road win over Pelicans

Takeaways from Wizards' road win over Pelicans

It took three quarters for Markieff Morris to wake up and take advantage of the matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans, and when he did he sparked the Wizards for two runs – the latter leading them to a 107-94 win at Smoothie King Center on Sunday.

It was the Wizards’ fourth win in a row, eighth in nine games and their fourth in five road games.

New Orleans (19-29) had trimmed the deficit to 83-80 after Anthony Davis completed a layup and the free throw on the foul and another foul shot after Wizards coach Scott Brooks was assessed a technical.

But the Wizards (27-20) went on an 8-0 that included a three by Morris and Bradley Beal to go up again by double digits. Otto Porter’s third three-pointer and another jumper by Morris sealed it with a 100-88 lead with a little more than three minutes left.

John Wall (18 points, 19 assists) earned his 27th double-double and Marcin Gortat (17 points, 11 rebounds) his 26th double-double. Beal (27 points, six rebounds) and Morris (21 points, eight rebounds) also contributed. Wall's 19 assists tied a career-high.

Anthony Davis (36 points, 17 rebounds) and Jrue Holiday (26 points, 11 assists) led New Orleans in a comeback from an 18-point deficit.  The duo combined to make 26 of 44 shots but didn’t get much help elsewhere. No other starter scored in double figures.

The Wizards are 21-9 since Dec. 1, the best record in that span in the East. They’ve won 9 of 10 vs. the Pelicans.

[RELATED: WATCH: Wall posterizes Davis in Wildcat-on-Wildcat crime]

-- The Morris-Trey Burke combination continues to thrive. Morris scored off two assists from Burke to begin the fourth quarter, including a three-pointer, and he returned the favor to the point guard on a cut to the basket. It helped steady the Wizards with the outcome in the balance.

--The Pelicans were held to 40 points in the first half, only the third time the Wizards kept a team to 40 or less. The previous two times came against the same team – in a Nov. 5 loss vs. the Orlando Magic and 38 on Nov. 25 in a win vs. Orlando. It marked the third consecutive road game an opponent has been held to 48 or less.

--New Orleans is known for switching smalls onto bigs, and vice versa. They allowed Solomon Hill to matchup with Gortat in the low post and Holiday vs. Morris and Buddy Hield vs. Morris. They didn’t make them pay enough early because they rarely finished these chances, though it did allow for Jason Smith’s highlight, one-handed putback dunk on an offensive rebound. Wall took full advantage of when he was guarded at the top of the key on a switch by Donatas Motiejunas. He blew by him for a tomahawk dunk in the first quarter. Wall ended the first half with consecutive jumpers for a 57-40 lead with Motiejunas again stranded at the top of the key. He played so soft, Wall was able to get into a rhythm on his dribble and pull up.

--The defense slacked off to begin the third quarter when Holiday was allowed to step into three-pointers without anyone running at him in transition. They got the lead down to 66-58 with a 7-0 run but the Wizards aided them in the comeback. They turned the ball over in four of their first six possessions out of the locker room, allowing New Orleans to briefly take the lead 73-72 with 49.6 seconds left. It Washington’s first time trailing in a game since 6-5 to the Charlotte Hornets on Jan. 23.

--Davis only scored 27 total points in two meetings with the Wizards last season, but he keyed the run in the third when he made 7 of 10 shots. Davis has played at center since the season began, when Omer Asik had the starting job until falling out of coach Alvin Gentry’s rotation. While Davis can be pushed around by traditional bigs, he’s difficult for them to cover away from the rim. He only had eight points in the first half when the Pelicans were isolation heavy. But they got more motion into their sets and into transition.

[RELATED: Wall beats buzzer again, this time to end 1st half vs. Pelicans]

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Wizards 2018-19 end of season grades: Bradley Beal

Wizards 2018-19 end of season grades: Bradley Beal

Now that the dust has settled for the 2018-19 Wizards season, it's time to review the roster and hand out individual grades...

Who: Bradley Beal, shooting guard

2018-19 stats: 36.9 mpg, 25.6 ppg, 5.5 apg, 5.0 rpg, 1.5 spg, 0.7 bpg, 2.7 tov, 47.5 FG%, 35.1 3P% (2.5/7.3), 54.0 eFG%, 80.8 FT% (4.4/5.5), 113 ortg, 114 drtg

Best game: 1/13 vs. Raptors - 43 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds, three steals, two blocks, 6-12 3PT

Grade: A+

Season review: One could argue that nobody deserves a higher grade in the Wizards organization for their 2018-19 season than Bradley Beal, who had by far the best individual year of any player on the team. He had high expectations coming into the season and exceeded them, taking the next step from an All-Star to a legitimate All-NBA candidate.

Beal also continued to represent the organization well in public. He spoke for the team after many difficult losses with poise and maturity. And he brought positive attention to the franchise for his charitable efforts, recently being named as a finalist for the league's community assist award.

Beal's on-court performance was a shining light amid a disastrous season overall for the team. He set career-highs in scoring, rebounds, assists, steals and free throw attempts. He played in all 82 games for the second straight season and never complained despite leading the NBA in minutes.

The most impressive part of Beal's season may be how he responded when John Wall went down due to injury. Wall last played on Dec. 26 and in the next 47 games, Beal averaged 27.2 points, 6.0 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 1.8 steals. 

Beal's final numbers put him in elite company. He became the first 25-5-5 player in Wizards/Bullets franchise history. He was one of only six players to reach that mark this season, a list that includes Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, James Harden, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry.

Even as the season was winding down and the Wizards were well out of playoff contention, Beal gave an honest and consistent effort. That stood out in a year in which some of his teammates did not play hard and were called out by head coach Scott Brooks and team leaders for doing so. 

Now Beal, of course, had many reasons to keep giving 100 percent. With the numbers he has put up, he could make All-NBA in late May and, if he does, will qualify for a supermax contract. That could mean tens of millions more on his next deal, if he chooses to sign back with the Wizards.

As Beal looks ahead to this summer and next season, another question is how much better he can become. He took a significant step from the All-Star year he had in 2017-18. What if he makes another, similar leap?

Beal upped his scoring average by three points year-over-year. Another jump like that could put him in the MVP conversation, depending on how the Wizards finish in the standings.

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Why (and how) your NBA Cares Community Assist Award vote should go to Bradley Beal

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Why (and how) your NBA Cares Community Assist Award vote should go to Bradley Beal

Voting has officially begun for the season-long NBA Community Assist Award, and Wizards All-Star guard Bradley Beal is a finalist. 

Chosen by fans and an NBA executive panel, the award honors a player’s strong commitment to positively impacting his community through sustained efforts over the course of the season.

In December, Beal visited Ron Brown College Preparatory High school in D.C. to give away two pairs of shoes to every member of the JV and varsity basketball teams.

It didn't stop there. Beal took his role as a mentor to the next level by checking in with the kids multiple times a month to make sure they are on the right track in both athletics and their academic studies.

Later on in February, Beal invited 10 students from RBHS on a private tour of the National African-American History and Culture Museum.

The seven-year NBA veteran also made a point to donate game tickets to community groups and toys to the Salvation Army during the holiday season. 

Here's some key information about the voting process: 

  1. Voting begins: Wednesday, April 24th at 12:01 p.m.
  2. Voting ends: Sunday, May 5th at 11:59 p.m.
  3. How does voting work? Through the above date range, every tweet posted using both of the hashtags #BradleyBeal and #NBACommunityAssist counts as one vote.
  4. Retweets of tweets using the above hashtags also count as one vote

This all comes following another All-Star season that saw the 25-year-old finish with career-highs in points (25.6), rebounds (5.0), and assists (5.5). He played in all 82 regular-season games. 

The winning player will receive $25,000 to their charity of choice, a donation from the NBA and Kaiser Permanente.

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