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Takeaways from Wizards' season sweep of N.Y. Knicks behind John Wall, Bradley Beal's burst

Takeaways from Wizards' season sweep of N.Y. Knicks behind John Wall, Bradley Beal's burst

The season sweep of the New York Knicks is complete as the Wizards held on 106-103 at Madison Square Garden on Thursday to keep themselves on pace for a 50-win season and in the hunt for the No. 3 seed in the East.

Bradley Beal (game-high 25 points) broke a 101 tie in the final minute with a three-pointer and two free throws. John Wall (24 points, eight assists) helped the Wizards (48-31) get out to early double-digit leads but they never could create enough separation to feel comfortable until the final whistle. Marcin Gortat (16 points) and Kelly Oubre (13 points, five rebounds, two blocks) also were key contributors. 

The Knicks (30-49) took an early lead but an 18-3 run by Washington flipped the momentum. Carmelo Anthony (23 points) led them followed by Justin Holiday (16 points).

Anthony's offensive spurt, a 6-0 run, tied the score until Beal closed. He had a chance to tie at the buzzer with a three that misfired.

The Wizards won the season series 4-0. 

[RELATED: Morris misses Wizards' game vs. Knicks with injury]

--Offensive rebounding kept the Knicks close in the first half when they trimmed what had been a 12-point deficit to 53-51. They ended with a 20-9 edge on the offensive glass, and a 49-39 edge overall. Their rebounding negated the Wizards' solid intial defense to force misses. Otto Porter (nine rebounds) led the Wizards in that category but only played 22 minutes. 

--Brandon Jennings, who gained his release from the Knicks so he could join a playoff team, didn’t have any real impact on the outcome until he ended a 7-0 run midway through the fourth. He pulled up from three-point range to push the lead to 92-85. It was his only make in five attempts. Balance on Jennings' jumpers remain a problem as he tends to fade immediately which causes them to be short. 

--Soreness to the foot and ankle has lingered with Markieff Morris since early in the season and he missed his fifth game of the season because of it. It appears that his ‘rest” days are more precautionary than anything and come against opponents the Wizards feel they can beat without him. Jason Smith (five points, six rebounds) started for him but was in foul trouble midway through the third quarter. The Wizards went to smaller lineups anyway. Oubre played 28 minutes and Bojan Bogdanvoic (eight points, six rebounds) played 31. 

--The Wizards continue to go into Gortat early in games. They started with a post-up for him against Marshall Plumlee that resulted in a turnaround jumper and he made another bucket going across the paint against the undersized big. Gortat made all seven of his shot attempts, his most field goals since Feb. 10 when he shot 7-for-12 vs. Indiana. 

--For some reason, the Knicks kept trusting their defensive concepts that had their five man, Willie Hernangomez, switching onto guards in the pick-and-roll. It created mismatches with him vs. Wall and Beal. Down the stretch, Wall got to the rim for a layup and a dunk. Beal got the switch, gave up the ball and got it back for a three. The switch never worked and the Knicks never considered changing it. 

--Oubre's length bothered the Knicks in the fourth. Though Sasha Vujacic (10 points) got hot, he was baited into a drive by the second-year forward and had his shot obliterated at the rim. Oubre then took the assignment on Anthony at the end of the game. He fouled him and sent him to the line for two free throws that tied the score at 103 with 32.3 seconds left but they'd never trail. After Beal's three, Oubre defended Anthony's final attempt with his 7-2 wingspan and the jumper didn't come close to going in. 

[RELATED: VIDEO: Wall fakes out Knicks with crazy spin dribble]

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NBA offseason grades: Wizards, Magic highlight Southeast Division


NBA offseason grades: Wizards, Magic highlight Southeast Division

Here is a look at how the 2018 NBA offseason went for teams in the Southeast Division...

Washington Wizards, B+

2017-18 finish: 43-39, 1st round of playoffs
In: C Dwight Howard, G Austin Rivers, G Troy Brown, Jr., F Jeff Green, C Thomas Bryant
Out: C Marcin Gortat, F Mike Scott, G Ty Lawson, G Tim Frazier, G Ramon Sessions, F Chris McCullough

Given the circumstances of their salary cap situation, the Wizards did quite well for themselves this summer. They shook things up by trading Gortat and actually got something solid back for him in Rivers. They then filled Gortat's spot with an eight-time All-Star in Howard and did so at a bargain price, the taxpayer mid-level exception. They also added Green at a nice price and Brown, who acquitted himself nicely in the Summer League. Whether the Wizards made a major leap forward is debatable, but the potential is there for them to re-install themselves as contenders in the East. The possibility things go wrong is also there, but all in all, a strong summer for the Wizards.

Atlanta Hawks, B

2017-18 finish: 24-58, missed playoffs
In: G Jeremy Lin, C Alex Len, G Trae Young, G Vince Carter, G Kevin Huerter, F Justin Anderson, F Omari Spellman
Out: G Dennis Schroeder, C Mike Muscala, C Dewayne Dedmon, G Malcolm Delaney, G Isaiah Tayor

The Hawks did a nice job with the draft by picking up an extra first round pick just to move back two spots (from third to fifth) in their trade with the Mavericks. They added Young with the fifth pick and then got Huerter later on at No. 18. The Len signing at two years and $8.5 million looks like a bargain and they added a nice mix of veteran free agents and young players to develop. It will probably be a few years before the Hawks are back in the playoffs, but they seemed to take a step forward this summer.

Miami Heat, D

2017-18 finish: 44-38, 1st round of playoffs
In: F Duncan Robinson
Out: G Dwyane Wade, G Wayne Ellington, F Luke Babbitt

The Heat had one of the least impactful summers of any team in the NBA. The biggest addition they have so far, and this is true, is Robinson. They didn't make any draft picks and struck out in free agency. What they did do is let go of Wade, Ellington and others. The only way the Heat improve year-over-year is if their young guys like Bam Adebayo or Justise Winslow take a big step forward. 

Charlotte Hornets, C+

2017-18 finish: 36-46, missed playoffs
In: C Bismack Biyombo, F Miles Bridges, G Devonte' Graham
Out: C Dwight Howard, G Michael Carter-Williams, G Treveon Graham

New Hornets GM Mitch Kupchak quickly turned the franchise into a different direction this offseason by trading Howard to the Nets. They then added Biyombo in a deal with the Magic and acquired Bridges through the draft. There isn't a lot to love or hate about the Hornets' offseason, so they fall in the middle of the grading scale. The real question now is what they do with Kemba Walker, who has just one year left on his contract.

Orlando Magic, B+

2017-18 finish: 25-57, missed playoffs
In: C Mohamed Bamba, C Timofey Mozgov, F Justin Jackson, F Jarell Martin, G Jerian Grant
Out: G Mario Hezonja, C Marreese Speights, G Arron Aflalo

The Magic had a strong summer. The re-signed forward Aaron Gordon, a rising young player, and drafted Bamba, who has the tools to become an All-Star and a dominant defensive force. They had some questionable moves, like trading for Mozgov, but the future looks a lot brighter for the Magic than it did just a few months ago.

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Familiarity for coach and GM should allow Capital City Go-Go to hit ground running

Associated Press

Familiarity for coach and GM should allow Capital City Go-Go to hit ground running

Despite being a brand new franchise with a new roster and new facilities, the Capital City Go-Go will carry into their inaugural season a level of continuity. Both their general manager and head coach are familiar with what they are getting into and the people they will be working with.

GM Pops Mensah-Bonsu is no stranger to the D.C. community and the Wizards franchise. He made a name for himself starring at George Washington University, spent time with the Wizards as a player in their 2013 training camp and remained a frequent visitor to Wizards games as a scout for the Spurs in recent years.

"To be back in the community and the first general manager of the G-League team is special," Mensah-Bonsu said. "This is D.C.’s team. I want them to embrace us."

Head coach Jarell Christian played college ball in Virginia and goes back several years with Wizards coach Scott Brooks. Christian joined the Oklahoma City's G-League staff when Brooks was in his final year as head coach of the Thunder.

Christian began his coaching journey with an eye trained on how Brooks goes about his job.

"My introduction to pro basketball was under Coach Brooks and his philosophies. A lot of that stuff, I believe in wholeheartedly. That’s my foundation," Christian said. "I got a chance to know him through training camp and throughout that season. He and I developed a bond and a relationship that stood the test of time. To this day, we still talk often. It’s just another chance for me to reconnect with him and to continue to grow our relationship."

The Go-Go intend to make what they do as similar to the Wizards as possible. When guys like Devin Robinson, one of their two-way players, is called up he can step right in without a learning curve of the playbook or how they practice.

Having Christian in place will help that process in particular.

"There won’t be any issue or any slippage with guys going up and down to know what’s in store for them," Christian said. "A lot of the stuff that the Wizards will do, we will implement with the Go-Go. Just some offensive and defensive concepts. Some of the playcalls and the terminology will be the same."

"Whatever you see the Wizards doing, you will probably see the Capital City Go-Go doing, too," Mensah-Bonsu said.

The symmetry between the G-League and the NBA teams will also be helped by the fact they will share the same practice facility. Their proximity will come with many advantages from the Go-Go perspective.

"I think it’s going to help motivate these guys. We’re going to be practicing in the same place that the Wizards do and the Mystics do," Mensah-Bonsu said. "I think if these guys can see Dwight Howard and John Wall and Bradley Beal walking around every day, it will help motivate them to get to that next level."

"The exposure our players get with the Wizards [front office], the Wizards personnel, being able to watch them practice daily, watching their practice habits and what their routines may be, is really big," Christian said.

That element will also apply beyond the players. Christian, who is just 32 years old, will get to watch how an NBA coaching staff operates on a daily basis.

Christian has yet to take a tour of the new building in Ward 8, but he has seen blueprints. Among the amenities the Go-Go will enjoy that other G-League teams do not usually have is a dedicated dining area.

Many G-League teams do not go to that length.

"A lot of organizations do not provide food for their players on a daily basis, but we will. That’s the No. 1 thing in my opinion that’s gonna set us apart from our competitors," he said.

The Go-Go won't take the floor for their first game until November, but it seems like a good foundation is starting to take place.

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