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Takeaways from Wizards' win over Denver Nuggets

Takeaways from Wizards' win over Denver Nuggets

Unlike in previous games this season when the Wizards have been guilty of coming out flat against an undermanned opponent, they toyed with the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center 123-113 to keep the pressure on for the No. 2 seed in the East.

The Wizards (39-24) won their second game in a row to start a five-game road trip out West. They won the first game of the back-to-back on Tuesday at the Phoenix Suns.

John Wall (30 points, 10 assists) led all scorers followed by Bradley Beal (23 points, five assists), Otto Porter (22 points, four steals), Markieff Morris (11 points) and Marcin Gortat (11 points, 15 rebounds) with his 34th double-double. It was his first in five games.  

They sweep the season series 2-0 with Denver (29-35), which was playing without two of their best players in Nikola Jokic (flu) and Danilo Gallinari (vertigo).

They hung close until the Wizards pulled away at the end of the first quarter. Only up 29-28, the Wizards closed with a 6-0 run behind steals from Bojan Bogdanovic (10 points) and Brandon Jennings (four points, six assists) for easy buckets.

The Nuggets trimmed an 11-point deficit to 42-39 midway through the second quarter but a 25-11 run effectively put the game away though they’d make another push to end the third and again in the fourth.

The Wizards will be off Thursday before playing another back-to-back set Friday at the Sacramento Kings and Saturday at the Portland Trail Blazers.

Wilson Chandler (21 points) and Gary Harris (26 points) led the Nuggets. Jamal Murray (17 points) sparked them off the bench with his three-point range.

[RELATED: VIDEO: Morris ejected for kicking Plumlee in groin]

--A 35-point third quarter allowed Denver to trim a 24-point deficit to 97-85 entering the fourth though Wall played all 12 minutes. But Jennings, Bogdanovic and Ian Mahinmi (seven points, four rebounds) stretched it back to 16 with 8:12 to play.

--In Washington’s first seven sets of back-to-back games, they were 0-2, 1-1 (five times) and 0-2. With this win, they’ve now gone 2-0 in four consecutive back-to-back sets.

--Morris, Porter and Gortat only combined for five field goals and 14 points in the previous game. Morris made 3 of 3 while Porter shot 10-for-15 and Gortat 5-for-10. Porter had made just one three-pointer in his previous two games. He shot 2-for-3 to maintain his spot as the league’s most accurate shooter from distance. The last one at 53.7 seconds left put the lead to 119-108 to seal it.

--Chandler got the first field goal for the Nuggets on a busted coverage. While Gortat rotated properly to the ball, Morris also went to the ball which left Chandler alone under the rim. It represented a continuation of confusion on coverages that almost came back to bite them after blowing a 22-point lead in Phoenix.

--With 5:05 left and the lead down to 108-97 for Washington, coach Scott Brooks had to go back to his starting five rather than keep them under 30 minutes. Only Morris stayed below (26 minutes).

--Morris was ejected because of a Flagrant 2 with 2:08 left on Mason Plumlee. Morris was stripped of the ball as he went up to shoot and struck Plumlee between the legs. The play initially wasn’t going to reviewed but when head official Marc Davis did so it resulted in the ejection.

--Coming off 17 points in his last game, Jason Smith didn’t make an appearance. 

[RELATED: Mahinmi has arrived for Wizards as defensive force]

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Now that the Lakers got Anthony Davis, could the Knicks and others turn to Bradley Beal?

Now that the Lakers got Anthony Davis, could the Knicks and others turn to Bradley Beal?

With all but one of the brick-and-mortar movie stores closed down, there are really only two instances that you hear the word 'blockbuster' these days: when describing Marvel movies and for the type of trade we saw this weekend between the New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Lakers.

The Anthony Davis deal is a blockbuster trade in every sense. It is big in the number of pieces involved and because Davis is one of the best players on the planet.

It is important because it could immediately vault the Lakers into title contention. And it provides a new superteam for the league to revolve around and for people to loathe with the Golden State Warriors currently licking their wounds.

But it is also the type of deal that will have major consequences around the league, one that will affect far more than just the teams at the top. It will force a collection of other teams to redraw their blueprints.

The obvious ones are the Knicks and Celtics, the two teams most closely linked to Davis in trade rumors. Now, it is New York that has more urgency, if not desperation, to strike in free agency. Boston to regroup and will probably need to ponder other trades if they want to reassert themselves in the Eastern Conference.

The Davis trade would be a major deal no matter the year, but it is fascinating to evaluate in the context of Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson's injuries. The league went from being very predictable to a wide open pasture of possibilities.

Now, the Warriors are good still but are also a beatable team. A window of NBA parity is cracking open and surely the Lakers won't be the only team to pounce.

Houston, Philadelphia and Oklahoma City are always aggressive and will clearly be thinking big. Portland and Denver could see this as the year to go all-in.

Not all teams looking to make a splash will have money to spend in free agency. That points to an aggressive trade market this summer, but there is arguably one big problem. After Davis, it doesn't seem likely many other stars will be available.

Teams seeking stars via trade have enjoyed plenty of options in recent years between Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving, Paul George and Jimmy Butler. The formula is generally fairly simple: an All-Star player on an underachieving team with the end of his contract in sight. Recently, the supply has met the demand.

But currently, few fit that description. There are some like Mike Conley Jr. of the Grizzlies, and Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside of the Heat. But none of those players are All-Stars in their prime.

All of that makes it easy to connect the dots to the Wizards and Bradley Beal. They are in an interesting spot, needing to decide whether to retool for playoff contention or take the long view and undergo some degree of a rebuild.

Beal, as their best player, is the catalyst. There are logical reasons to keep him or to trade him. He is one of the best players in franchise history, is only 25 and he's on a team-friendly contract in the era of the supermax. But the Wizards are going to have a tough time improving their roster with John Wall's Achilles injury and contract, which starts at 35 percent of the salary cap. 

The Wizards have held a stance of not wanting to trade Beal and still do. They also likely wouldn't make such an important decision without a long-term team president in place.

But that won't stop teams from calling and there is already speculation around the league about whether Beal will be dealt. One front office executive told NBC Sports Washington that Beal could be the top prize in the trade market if made available now that Davis is gone. 

For a lot of these situations, trades are more likely when a player is entering his walk year. Beal is signed through the 2020-21 season and, even if he grows unhappy, will say the right things.

He won't create necessary drama. And, if you take him at his word in a February interview with NBC Sports Washington, he wouldn't request a trade himself.

Also, there is a reason to believe keeping Beal wouldn't hurt their ability to rebuild through the draft. With the new lottery system, bottoming out doesn't offer the guarantees that it used to. And even with Beal playing all 82 games last season, the Wizards still lost 50 of them and finished with the sixth-best odds.

Just like some have argued the Wizards have reasons to trade Beal, they also have reasons not to. But that won't stop other teams from picking up the phone.




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Wizards bringing in UNC teammates Coby White and Nassir Little for pre-draft workout

Wizards bringing in UNC teammates Coby White and Nassir Little for pre-draft workout

The Wizards are holding their highest-profile pre-draft workout yet on Monday, hosting UNC teammates and projected lottery picks Coby White and Nassir Little. 

White earned All-ACC and All-Freshman honors during his lone season in Chapel Hill, averaging 16.1 points and 4.1 assists per game. Little's season with the Tar Heels did not go as smoothly as White's, but he is an NBA-ready athlete with tons of upside. 

Both White and Little could be options for the Wizards at No. 9 and would provide solutions to some of Washington's major needs. White would give the Wizards a primary play-maker while John Wall recovers from his Achilles injury, while Little would fill Washington's hole at small forward and bring some much-needed defense and rebounding to the team.

Before White and Little, the Wizards had brought in very few projected lottery picks during their pre-draft process, outside of Kentucky forward Keldon Johnson and French prospect Sekou Doumbouya. But with the 2019 NBA Draft looming on Thursday, the Wizards are ramping up their search for the player they'll pick at No. 9.