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Takeaways from the Wizards road win vs. Hornets

Takeaways from the Wizards road win vs. Hornets

For the first time this season the Wizards return from a road trip with a winning record after dominating the Charlotte Hornets throughout Monday night, 109-99.

John Wall (game-high 24 points, seven assists, four rebounds) got Washington out to a fast start as he knocked down jumper after jumper for a 60-48 halftime lead. Markieff Morris (23 points, seven rebounds) was followed by Bradley Beal (18 points, five rebounds, four assists), Otto Porter (14 points, 13 rebounds) and Kelly Oubre (10 points).

The Wizards (24-20) opened the three-game road trip with a win at the New York Knicks and lost on a buzzer-beater to the Detroit Pistons on Sunday.

Charlotte (23-22) was on a three-game win streak that included a 35-point rout of the Toronto Raptors.

Kemba Walker (21 points) led them but shot just 7-for-24 from the field. Marco Belinelli (18 points) came off the bench to help close the gap but it wasn’t enough. Charlotte shot 35 of 90, or 38.9%.

The Wizards are 10-1 when holding opponents to less than 100 points.  In previous road trips of more than one game, they were 0-2 (three times) and 1-2 (twice).

They lead the season series 2-0 vs. Charlotte. With two more meetings left for the Southeast division rival, one more win gives Washington the season series and the playoff-seeding tiebreaker.

[RELATED: Wizards' Satoransky throws down crazy dunk in practice]

-- After the Hornets chopped what had been a 14-point deficit with 2:51 left in the third to 80-74 entering the fourth, the Wizards made 9 of 11 shots to keep their lead safe.

-- This may have been Trey Burke’s best game off the bench. He scored 27 for a season-high vs. Brooklyn, but he has never run the offense better, particularly in the pick-and-roll with Morris.  Ramon Sessions (nine points) appeared on the verge of bringing Charlotte back against his former team when his three-pointer cut the deficit to 35-31. But Burke (six points, four assists) had a behind-the-back assist to Morris in traffic for the finish, had a stepback jumper and then another on a pullup. It was a stretch for the Wizards when they made 6 of 7 shots. Burke was 3-for-3 but it's what he did to create for others, too, that set this performance apart from his others. 

--Beal went without a field goal or a point until his three-pointer late in the second quarter gave them a 55-4 lead. Beal heated up in the third quarter when he added three threes. It was Beal’s creation off the dribble, however, that aided his team in pulling away. Nicolas Batum (four points) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (eight points) did their best to keep him in check. But Oubre popped open for clean looks from the arc where he shot 2-for-3. The second one put the Wizards up 91-77. Oubre had a steal as he denied the passing lane to Batum on Frank Kaminsky’s pass to earn a breakaway dunk

--Porter had his seventh double-double, which is two more than he had in his previous three NBA seasons.

--Hornets coach Steve Clifford pointed to the Wizards’ 41-33 rebounding advantage in the first meeting at Verizon Center on Dec. 14 as being the key to victory. The Wizards won in that area again, 47-43. 

[RELATED: DeMarcus Cousins threw a trashcan after Kings' loss]

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Natasha Cloud is tired of the Bradley Beal trade rumors

Natasha Cloud is tired of the Bradley Beal trade rumors

Mystics guard Natasha Cloud has had it up to here with trade rumors about Wizards guard Bradley Beal.

Beal has been a strong vocal supporter of the Mystics and the WNBA, in general. He works closely with Kristi Toliver, who, in her offseason, works as an assistant coach for the Wizards. His closeness with the Mystics has now manifested itself in Cloud voicing her opposition to Beal being traded on Twitter.

Beal is no stranger to trade rumors. Entering his eighth season, Beal has been connected to the Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics and Miami Heat, among others. Given that his name is frequently tossed around in trade talks, it should come as no surprise that the Clippers made a run at him to pair with Kawhi Leonard.

Despite the frequent and recurring rumors, Beal hasn't been traded, and very likely won't be traded. He's a star and a legitimate piece around which to build a franchise. At the summer league in Las Vegas, NBC Sports Washington's Chase Hughes sat with Shaquille O'Neal to discuss what the Wizards should do in free agency. Shaq said that between Beal and John Wall, the Wizards are just a piece or two from breaking through.

I definitely think [the Wizards] should keep him. He's a great shooter, but if he’s a great shooter looking to go somewhere, L.A. has $32 million [in cap space]. ... He's definitely the cornerstone of this franchise. He and John Wall have always, almost always, been there. They just need another one or two guys.

It's still unlikely that Beal is playing in anything other than a Wizards uniform on opening night, but if he is, expect to hear from Cloud about it. 

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Drew Gooden, Justin Kutcher to highlight NBC Sports Washington Wizards broadcast team

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Drew Gooden, Justin Kutcher to highlight NBC Sports Washington Wizards broadcast team

Drew Gooden was nearing the end of his second 10-day contract with the Wizards in the 2014 season when he went off for 21 points against Brooklyn. 

It was a game that changed his career, led to being signed to the team for the remainder of that season and ending his career as a Washington Wizard two years later. “My career was totally reborn as a veteran leader on the Washington Wizards,” he said. “And that’s something I never would have thought would come full circle.”

And now? Gooden will serve as the game analyst on NBC Sports Washington’s Wizards broadcast this season. NBC Sports Washington announced on Wednesday he will join new play-by-play announcer Justin Kutcher as part of the Wizards' game broadcast team. Chris Miller will return in his role as sideline reporter.

“It’s a dream and I never thought in a million years I would have retired a Wizard and that out of all my teams that I played for, that Wizards would be the favorite organization that I played for, never thought I would be a color analyst for NBC Sports Washington,” Gooden said. “All of this is a dream.”

And while Kutcher may not have the same playing resume that Gooden does, he promises to bring the same passion Gooden does to broadcasts.

During the early days of his career, Kutcher wasn’t just the voice of (and practice player for) the Boston University women’s basketball team. He was such a passionate fan that he was the one making the most noise on the team bus after a big win or a big loss. Now, after decades in the business, he’s not sure he’ll go to that extreme – but Wizards fans can expect him to be “a fan who’s calling the game,” he said. “I say that about myself all of the time. I think of myself as just this incredibly lucky person that gets to call a sport that I love. When I have a reaction, it’s a genuine reaction. So, I’ll keep everything professional, but I’ll get excited.”

Kutcher has 17 years of experience as a play-by-play announcer, having spent the last seven years at Fox Sports where he led national coverage of NCAA basketball and football, the NFL and MLB. Prior to FOX Sports, Kutcher served as a play-by-play announcer for ESPN for four years. During that time, he led live coverage for a variety of sports, including basketball, football, baseball, softball, volleyball and hockey, across professional, college and high school leagues and conferences. He also appeared on studio shows during his tenure with ESPN. In addition to FOX Sports and ESPN, he has also called collegiate events for CSTV, now CBS Sports Network, for two years, as well as BTN, and contributed to MLB.com digital programming.

“I have known Justin since he was a runner for us at FOX Sports,” said Joe Buck. “He’s gone from working hard behind the scenes to one of the best, young voices in sports. Wizards fans are getting a great broadcaster and a better person .”

Here’s five more fun facts about Kutcher and Gooden.

1.    Kutcher’s worked the past five Westminster Dog Shows. “I get more ticket requests for that than any other event I go to,” he said. But, at first he wasn’t sure he was going to stick with it. The first year, he said, was a little tough. “I called my dad after it airs and he said that it was my mom’s favorite thing that I’ve done.” But, he stuck with it. And now? “I love it,” he said. 
2.    His favorite thing in DC is … the breakfast at Ted’s Bulletin. “They have a breakfast burrito that I get, I eat two of them at a time and people can’t believe it,” he said. Oh, and also his family. His family in the area includes a 3-year-old nephew, who when asked for real estate recommendations in the area, declared “you can live at our house!”
3.    Meanwhile, you can find Gooden at his favorite crab shack. “Quarterdeck in Arlington is my favorite, favorite restaurant,” he said. In the two years he’s known about the crab spot, he’s eaten there, he estimates, “800” times. 
4.    Good news for Wizards fans: He thinks the Wizards will be a team everyone sleeps on – and that’s great for them. “They’re going to have the opportunity to surprise a lot of people early,” he predicted. 
5.    Kutcher expects Rui Hachimura to … “be one of the steals of the draft.” Kutcher covered the new Wizard as a play-by-play announcer during Hachimura’s college career. “I would not be surprised if you see Rui average 15-18 points per game and close to 8 rebounds per game. I think he’s that type of player, he’s a really good kid, when I saw the Wizards drafted him I said that’s a great, great pick,” he said.