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Takeaways from Wizards' win over Lakers, 16th straight home victory

Takeaways from Wizards' win over Lakers, 16th straight home victory

Even when the Wizards don’t play their best, they’re still winning by double-digits which was the case after they held on in Thursday’s 116-108 win over the L.A. Lakers for their 16th win in a row at Verizon Center in front of 16,473 -- the second-longest home winning streak in franchise history.

When the Lakers (17-35) were here last season, in Kobe Bryant’s final game on this floor, the Wizards underperformed in one of their worst losses in front of a pro-Lakers crowd.

Almost everything was the same except the Wizards (29-20)  won despite an uncomfortable finish. They lost a chunk of what had been a 19-point lead in the third quarter when a dunk from Luol Deng cut the deficit to 67-60. Then a turnover led to a lob dunk for Larry Nance to get it to 91-78 with 9:58 left.

John Wall (33 points, 11 assists), however, scored 16 in the fourth to lead all scorers with his 29th double-double, followed by Bradley Beal (23 points, four assists) and Marcin Gortat (21 points, 14 rebounds) with his 28th double-double. Markieff Morris (12 points, 11 rebounds, three steals, two blocks) and Otto Porter (11 points, six rebounds) came alive in the second half when their production was needed most.

D’Angelo Russell (17 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds) led the Lakers followed by Jordan Clarkson (20 points), Deng (17 points), Lou Williams (15 points) and Tarik Black (13 points, 11 rebounds).

[RELATED: Will the Wizards make a big move at the trade deadline?]

--The Wizards led just 31-29 after the first quarter when they allowed 12-for-22 shooting, 54.5%, and 5 of 12 from three, or 41.7%. Then the game turned because of a second unit. When Beal returned at 8:03, the Wizards were up 39-31. When Wall and Gortat re-entered at 6:37, it was 42-33. In that stretch Kelly Oubre made a 6-footer and a 19-footer. Trey Burke and Jason Smith had layups and the Lakers went cold. The second unit, however, wasn’t as efficient to begin the fourth quarter.

-- The Lakers had 15 first-half turnovers that produced 17 points the other way. Russell had five giveaways in the first half alone and finished with seven. Williams came off the bench had three in just nine minutes of the first half with his only field goal coming on a contested three by Oubre. But the Lakers were more responsible with the ball in the second half where they only committed five to get back into the game.

--Beal appeared to be on his way to setting a career-high for three-pointers, eclipsing his mark set earlier this season vs. the Sacramento Kings when he made seven. He was 5-for-6 in the first half but lost his touch. He has had six made threes twice, in a loss at the Boston Celtics and in a win over the L.A. Clippers.

--The open looks were there for Morris and Porter, but they only combined to make 1 of 8 three-pointers in the first half for a total of seven points. Still, the Wizards led 58-44 because of their superior guard play of Wall and Beal combining for 29. Porter heated up in the third quarter with a pair of treys to get the lead back up to double digits. Morris compensated for his 3-for-14 shooting by going 6-for-8 from the foul line and coming up with key rebounds and a block of Larry Nance at the rim that put the Wizards in transition for a 101-93 lead.

--The Lakers came out aggressive in the third by denying passing lanes and handoffs as they were able to disrupt the Wizards’ rhythm and pace. They got the deficit down and even got even at 91 but couldn’t keep Gortat off the glass or stop the pick-and-roll. He shot 10-for-13 after entering the game shooting 81% from the field in his previous four games.

--Perhaps the key sequence of the game came at 4:38 after Morris missed a dunk and the Wizards ahead just 101-96. The botched play put Russell in transition. Porter and Beal hustled back and Beal swatted it off the backboard. Deng recovered the ball and tried to drive but Gortat was there for the charge. The next time down the floor, Morris converted a lob dunk to make up for it.

-- Timofey Mozgov, who signed for $64 million with Los Angeles last summer, had as many points as Ian Mahinmi. Mozgov missed his only shot and was held scoreless in 17 minutes as a starter. Mahinmi, who also signed for the same amount but has been out injured all season for the Wizards except for one game, could be near a return. 

[RELATED: Ian Mahinmi goes through Wizards shootaround for 1st time since Nov.]

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: John Wall goes 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, celebrity softball and the Summer League

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards Tipoff podcast: John Wall goes 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, celebrity softball and the Summer League

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, John Wall went 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, the celebrity softball game and the Summer League.

Chase Hughes and Chris Miller broke down the parallels between Wall and Harper and why Wall has chosen to stay loyal to Washington in his own contract decisions. Plus, can the Wizards really tone down the talking this season?

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Kawhi Leonard going to the Raptors may actually be good news for the Wizards and the East

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USA Today Sports Images

Kawhi Leonard going to the Raptors may actually be good news for the Wizards and the East

Through nearly three weeks of NBA free agency and almost a month of trades, the Eastern Conference had remained eerily quiet. The Wizards had arguably been the most aggressive team in the East, as all the biggest moves had occurred in the West and, most notably, LeBron James changed coasts.

That all changed on Wednesday as the Toronto Raptors pulled off a trade with the San Antonio Spurs to land Kawhi Leonard, a two-time defensive player of the year. The full deal includes All-NBA guard DeMar DeRozan going to San Antonio along with big man Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first round pick. The Raptors also get guard Danny Green, according to ESPN.

Here are some takeaways from the trade...

This is good, potentially great news for the Wizards

The worst-case scenario for the Wizards and most of the East would have been if Leonard got dealt to either the Sixers or Celtics, as the potential would have been there for a dominant team. The Sixers, in particular, could have conceivably traded for Leonard without giving up much in the way of pieces that can help them now. They would have teamed Leonard with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid and would probably be the favorites to reach the NBA Finals. Instead, the Sixers struck out and now face the prospect of taking a pretty big L on this offseason, given all the guys they were tied to going into it.

Leonard and the Raptors will be good and they may even be better than they were last season. Though the Raptors won 59 games in the regular season, they disappointed in the playoffs. Leonard could change that, but he won't have the help to make them an unstoppable force. Kyle Lowry is good, but he's an aging player and they don't have a third star, at least not yet. They have a lot of recent first round picks that could, in theory, make the leap.

This deal is good for the Wizards and could become great if Leonard leaves in free agency next summer. If he does, the Raptors will be in deep trouble.

What will the Lakers do?

When James signed with the Lakers, most assumed they would then add at least one star to run with him. But now that Leonard is going to Toronto, it's very possible they don't add one at all. James might actually have to play with Lonzo Ball in addition to Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee. Sure, they can sign Leonard next summer or find another star then, but this is shaping up as of now to be a lost year for James.

As consistitued, they aren't winning anything of substance. It's just so surprising James would be cool with this level of talent around him considering what he could have done this season if he signed with Philly or some other team.

People are looking at the wrong contract

Much of the instant reaction to the Leonard trade was praise for the Raptors in ridding themselves of DeRozan's deal. That's a headscratcher. DeRozan is set to make over $27 million in the next three years, the third being a player option, but he's an All-NBA player who turns 29 next month. In the context of NBA contracts, that isn't too bad.

Lowry's contract, on the other hand, is borderline awful. He's 32 with his numbers heading in the wrong direction and he's due to make $31 million next season and $33.3 million the year after. It's not like the Raptors freed themselves of their worst deal.

Masai is making moves

This is a risk for the Raptors and you have to respect it. Their general manager, Masai Ujiri, had seen enough of the DeRozan-Lowry duo falling short in the playoffs. He fired head coach Dwane Casey and pulled off a trade for Leonard, who at his best is one of the premier players in the NBA.

There is considerable risk in this move with Leonard having missed 73 games last season with a quadriceps injury and given the fact he can opt to test free agency next summer. If he really does want to join the Lakers, he could leave the Raptors empty-handed.

But it's a risk that is probably worth taking. Everyone assumed the same future for Paul George and he ended up staying in Oklahoma City. It's not a guarantee Leonard leaves and now the Raptors have a year to convince him to stay. Ujiri should get praise for this deal because it's bold and he did one of the hardest things a GM can do in finding a top-5 talent for his team.

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