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Takeaways from Wizards' win over Pacers behind Morris' season-high

Takeaways from Wizards' win over Pacers behind Morris' season-high

A new home winning streak is underway, after the Wizards had to hold off repeated attempts by the Indiana Pacers to win 112-107 on Friday night at Verizon Center in front of 19,503 fans.

John Wall produced his 33rd double-double (26 points, 14 assists) and Bradley Beal (20 points, four assists) struggled to get free of Paul George to generate offense. But Markieff Morris (season-high 26 points, 10 rebounds, three assists)  exploited his advantage against Lavoy Allen to great success and Marcin Gortat (14 points, 16 rebounds) had his 31st double-double.

Paul George (31 points) led all scorers and was at times unstoppable for Indiana (29-24) which had won seven of eight games coming into Friday. Jeff Teague (13 points, nine assists) and Kevin Seraphin (16 points) contributed with three other players for Indiana in double figures at 10 points (Allen, Myles Turner, Rodney Stuckey).

The Wizards lost 140-135 in overtime on Monday to the Cleveland Cavaliers – they also had ended the Pacers’ seven-game win streak – to snap their 17 consecutive home wins at Verizon.

The Wizards (32-21) are now ahead 2-1 in the season series with Indiana with one more game remaining between them before the All-Star break on Feb. 16.

Indiana cut the deficit to 105-102 in the final minute but it was Wall driving past George, drawing the help, and finding Morris for a three-pointer for a six-point edge with 50.6 seconds left to seal it.

--Teague has hurt the Wizards by getting inside the defense and breaking them down in the paint. He had success doing that early with 11 points and five assists in the first half. He went to the free-throw line four times – more than Wall and Beal combined. He was held in check the rest of the way mostly because the Wizards opted to put size on him during key stretches with the length of Kelly Oubre and Tomas Satoransky. Teague scored just two points in the second half 

-- Pacers coach Nate McMillan went with a big lineup with his second unit, playing Seraphin, a former Wizard, and center while Al Jefferson (six points) was at power forward. That’s when they made their move and pounded the Wizards’ second unit by isolating and using their size to their advantage and getting to their preferred spots to make shots. The Wizards failed to play with pace and move the ball frequently enough to force the plodding bigs to rotate and recover. They erased a seven-point deficit in the first quarter to take a 39-38 lead on Stuckey’s jumper. The Wizards re-inserted four starters and Indiana still continued its run to push the lead to 47-38.

--George defending Beal was a foregone conclusion. In the Pacers’ victory in their first meeting, Beal started 4-for-6 and appeared headed for a big night. He didn’t score in the second and third quarters and shot 3-for-13 after the first 12 minutes. George’s 6-7 frame, reach and ability to recover from screens and trail to take away three-point looks is a valuable asset for Indiana. Beal was 1-for-4 in the first half for seven points but did have three assists. The Wizards had to make them pay for using their best defender, which meant Porter and Morris knocking down open looks or beating 1-on-1 coverage.

--The help was so heavy towards Beal, the Wizards sometimes ran down the shot clock too far trying to get him the ball. That’s how they lost the lead in the third on Lavoy Allen’s shot to put Indiana head 72-70 at 5:39. After a timeout, the Wizards used Beal as a decoy to get Morris an open three and layups for Gortat when he was being fronted in the post (and no weakside help). They went into the fourth up 86-81 as a result.

-- The coverage by Indiana created lanes for that Gortat to get on the boards for tip-ins and tap outs. He converted a miss on a drive by Morris for a 103-98 lead but had an important contest of Teague at the rim in the final minute that allowed the Wizards to get the ball and get out to a three-possession lead with 37 seconds left.

--Porter was in foul trouble, picking up his fifth with 7:42 left in the game. Satoransky, not Oubre, replaced him. Satoransky’s stat line was modest (four points in 13 minutes) but it was his ball pressure and length that was effective. He contested a pull-up jumper from Monta Ellis (eight points) that was off to the right and forced Stuckey into a traveling violation.

--Ian Mahinmi played for the second game in a row but wasn’t as effective in spot duty in the first half. He had a layup on a nifty interior pass from Wall but mishandled it for a turnover. He did body up Jefferson to force a miss at the rim. He’ll be more of an asset defensively before he can provide much lift in terms of bench points. Plus he has to get used to the quick-hit passes from Wall when he draws the defense. Mahinmi did have a rotation in the fourth quarter that produced a turnover. His impact will be modest and sometimes understated.

--Trey Burke (seven points, five assists) was a spark early but fell into overdribbling which is why the second unit had difficulty keeping leads or closing the gap. He was 3-for-6 until the fourth quarter when he missed all three attempts. 

--The Pacers shot 4-for-21 from three-point range, or 19%, a focus of the Wizards' defense since they allowed the Cavs to get loose on the perimeter. Morris ran out to contest a three by George late in the fourth and forced a miss. George was 2-for-6 from deep and C.J. Miles (three points) 1-for-5. They combined to shoot 15-for-17 from long range in a blowout of the Wizards here last season.

[RELATED: VIDEO: Markieff Morris' dunk goes off top of backboard and in]

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Troy Brown gets love from peers, including ROY votes, in NBA Rookie Survey

Troy Brown gets love from peers, including ROY votes, in NBA Rookie Survey

The annual NBA Rookie Survey is always a way for us to take an early peek into how rookies feel about their peers (competition?).

For Wizards rookie Troy Brown Jr., he certainly has gotten the attention of the rest of his rookie class.

Brown ranked 6th for "Best Playmaker" in the class, and also received votes for Rookie of the Year and having best career potential.

Last year's class certainly lived up to the hype, with Ben Simmons winning Rookie of the Year. Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum definitely made strong cases for themselves as well though.

This time around, the class was dominated early by big men in the draft, but there's plenty of hype around the group as a whole again. Could it be the year we look back on as the class that brought the big man back to the NBA?

Possibly. 

NBA.com again talked down the rookie class at the annual Rookie Photo Shoot at the New York Knicks' practice facility. This year's group (36) answered seven questions about their class, as well as a few about the current player they most admire and what they're expecting as they make the jump to the NBA.

Here's how they ended up voting:

Who will be the 2018-19 Kia Rookie of the Year?

1. DeAndre Ayton, Phoenix -- 18%
    Collin Sexton, Cleveland -- 18%

3. Luka Doncic, Dallas -- 9%
    Kevin Knox, New York -- 9%

5. Mohamed Bamba, Orlando -- 6%
    Devonte' Graham, Charlotte -- 6%
    Michael Porter Jr., Denver -- 6%
    Trae Young, Atlanta -- 6%

Others receiving votes: Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento; Troy Brown Jr., Washington; Wendell Carter Jr., Chicago; Hamidou Diallo, Oklahoma City; Harry Giles, Sacramento; Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis; Lonnie Walker IV, San Antonio

LAST YEAR: Dennis Smith 26%

Which rookie will have the best career?

1. Wendell Carter Jr., Chicago -- 13%

2. Kevin Knox, New York -- 10%
    Jerome Robinson, LA Clippers -- 10%

3. DeAndre Ayton, Phoenix -- 7%
    Mohamed Bamba, Orlando -- 7%
    Mikal Bridges, Phoenix -- 7%
    Collin Sexton, Cleveland -- 7%
    Lonnie Walker IV, San Antonio -- 7%

Others receiving votes: Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento; Miles Bridges, Charlotte; Troy Brown Jr., Washington; Hamidou Diallo, Oklahoma City; Donte DiVincenzo, Milwaukee; Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, LA Clippers; Devonte' Graham, Charlotte; Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis; Michael Porter Jr., Denver; Trae Young, Atlanta

LAST YEAR: Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum -- 18%

Which rookie was the biggest steal at where he was selected in the Draft?

1. Keita Bates-Diop (48), Minnesota -- 13%

2. Michael Porter Jr. (14), Denver -- 10%
    Lonnie Walker IV (18), San Antonio -- 10%

4. Jalen Brunson (33), Dallas -- 6%
    Gary Trent Jr. (37), Portland -- 6%

Others receiving votes: Grayson Allen (21), Utah; Mohamed Bamba (6), Orlando; Miles Bridges (12), Charlotte; Bruce Brown (42), Detroit; Jevon Carter (32), Memphis; Hamidou Diallo (45), Oklahoma City; Donte DiVincenzo (17), Milwaukee; Luka Doncic (3), Dallas; Jacob Evans (28), Golden State; Devonte' Graham (34), Charlotte; De'Anthony Melton (46), Houston; Svi Mykhailiuk (47), L.A. Lakers; Jerome Robinson (13), LA Clippers; Mitchell Robinson (36), New York; Mo Wagner (25), L.A. Lakers; Robert Williams III (27), Boston; Trae Young (5), Atlanta

LAST YEAR: Donovan Mitchell -- 19%

Which rookie is the most athletic?

1. Zhaire Smith, Philadelphia -- 24%

2. Hamidou Diallo, Oklahoma City -- 15%
    Josh Okogie, Minnesota -- 15%
    Lonnie Walker IV, San Antonio -- 15%

5. Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento -- 6%
    Miles Bridges, Charlotte -- 6%

Others receiving votes: DeAndre Ayton, Phoenix; Mikal Bridges, Phoenix; Bruce Brown, Detroit; Donte DiVincenzo, Milwaukee; Michael Porter Jr., Denver; Collin Sexton, Cleveland; Robert Williams III, Boston

LAST YEAR: Dennis Smith Jr. -- 44%

Which rookie is the best shooter?

1. Trae Young, Atlanta -- 47%

2. Kevin Huerter, Atlanta -- 13%
    Svi Mykhailiuk, L.A. Lakers -- 13%

4. Gary Trent Jr., Portland -- 9%

5. Grayson Allen, Utah -- 6%
    Donte DiVincenzo, Milwaukee -- 6%

Others receiving votes: Aaron Holiday, Indiana; Kevin Knox, New York

LAST YEAR: Luke Kennard -- 49%

Which rookie is the best defender?

1. Jevon Carter, Memphis -- 29%

2. Mohamed Bamba, Orlando -- 14%

3. Josh Okogie, Minnesota -- 11%

4. Mikal Bridges, Phoenix -- 9%

5. Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis -- 6%
    Collin Sexton, Cleveland -- 6%

Others receiving votes: DeAndre Ayton, Phoenix; Bruce Brown, Detroit; Wendell Carter Jr., Chicago; Hamidou Diallo, Oklahoma City; Melvin Frazier Jr., Orlando; Mitchell Robinson, New York; Omari Spellman, Atlanta; Gary Trent Jr., Portland; Lonnie Walker IV, San Antonio

LAST YEAR: Josh Jackson -- 26%

Which rookie is the best playmaker?

1. Trae Young, Atlanta -- 35%

2. Jalen Brunson, Dallas -- 15%

3. Luka Doncic, Dallas -- 9%
    Shai Gilgeous-Alexander -- 9%
    Collin Sexton, Cleveland -- 9%

6. Troy Brown Jr., Washington -- 6%
    Aaron Holiday, Indiana -- 6%

Others receiving votes: Devonte' Graham, Charlotte; De'Anthony Melton, Houston; Michael Porter Jr., Denver; Jerome Robinson, LA Clippers

LAST YEAR: Lonzo Ball -- 72%

What will be the biggest adjustment for you, playing in the NBA?

1. Speed or pace of the game -- 31%

2. Schedule/Length of season -- 24%

3. Physicality (size and strength of opponents) -- 19%

4. Travel -- 10%

5. Lifestyle/Time management -- 8%

Also receiving votes: Conditioning, Playing NBA defense, Not having the ball as much

LAST YEAR: Physicality (size and strength of opponents) -- 37%

What is the most important skill you need to develop?

1. Ball-handling -- 19%
    Shooting -- 19%

3. Defense -- 14%

4. Playmaking/Reading the defense -- 11%

5. Everything -- 8%

6. Motor/Work ethic -- 6%
    Strength -- 6%
    Time management -- 6%

Also receiving votes: Basketball IQ, Communication, Confidence, Leadership

Who is your favorite player in the league?

1. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 29%

2. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 9%
    Kevin Durant, Golden State -- 9%

4. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 6%
    Chris Paul, Houston -- 6%
    Dwyane Wade -- 6%
    Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City -- 6%

Others receiving votes: Kobe Bryant; DeMarcus Cousins, Golden State; Anthony Davis, New Orleans; Paul George, Oklahoma City; James Harden, Houston; Jrue & Justin Holiday, New Orleans/Chicago; Kyrie Irving, Boston; Jusuf Nurkic, Portland; John Wall, Washington; Nick Young,

LAST YEAR: LeBron James -- 31%

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NBA offseason grades: Thunder stood out in Northwest Division

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NBA offseason grades: Thunder stood out in Northwest Division

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

Portland Trail Blazers, C+

2017-18 finish: 49-33, 1st round of playoffs
In: G Seth Curry, G Nik Stauskas, G Anfernee Simons, G Gary Trent, Jr.
Out: F Ed Davis, G Pat Connaughton, G Shabazz Napier

The Blazers are about as cash-strapped as anyone out there, so they had very little room to work with in free agency. They made some minor moves but nothing of real note. They had a solid draft, but picked Simons who is a long-term project. And they had to let some decent players go in free agency. The best thing that happened to the Blazers this summer was re-signing Jusuf Nurkic. Other than that, it was a pretty mediocre offseason for Portland.

Oklahoma City Thunder, A

2017-18 finish: 48-34, 1st round of playoffs
In: G Dennis Schroeder, C Nerlens Noel, G Hamidou Diallo
Out: F Carmelo Anthony

GM Sam Presti deserves high praise for another strong offseason. Most of the acclaim comes from the Thunder re-signing Paul George despite the assumption of many he would leave in free agency. But OKC also snagged Noel on a cheap deal, adding more athleticism and depth behind center Steven Adams. And they got Schroeder back in the deal for Anthony when they could have shed his salary for nothing in return. They also added three second round picks, including Diallo who looked good in the Summer League. It's hard to imagine the Thunder doing better than they did, given the financial resources they were working with.

Utah Jazz, B

2017-18 finish: 48-34, 2nd round of playoffs
In: G Grayson Allen, F Tyler Cavanaugh
Out: F Jonas Jerebko

The Jazz get most of their points from re-signing players like Dante Exum, Raul Neto and Derrick Favors. Though the price tag for Favors is a little high, they did a nice job of bringing the band back together, knowing they have an opportunity to get better this season simply by having Rudy Gobert stay healthy. The Allen pick has potential to work out very well for them. He looked good in the Summer League and should complement Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio well at the guard position. All in all, there was nothing flashy for the Jazz but they made some solid, smart decisions.

Minnesota Timberwolves, C

2017-18 finish: 47-35, 1st round of playoffs
In: F Anthony Tolliver, G Josh Okogie, F Keita Bates-Diop
Out: F Nemanja Bjelica

The Wolves have enough salary committed to where they could only do so much this summer. Tolliver is a nice pickup and should add shooting to their frontcourt. Bates-Diop gives them nice value as a second round pick. It would have been nice to see the Wolves change something via trade, but they have reason to believe they can get better if Karl-Anthony Towns continues to ascend and Andrew Wiggins reclaims his form as a scorer.

Denver Nuggets, B+

2017-18 finish: 46-36, missed playoffs
In: G Isaiah Thomas, F Michael Porter, Jr. 
Out: F Wilson Chandler, G Devin Harris

The Nuggets had a solid offseason just as they get ready to make a big leap forward as a franchise. They re-signed Nikola Jokic to a long-term deal, added Thomas on a low-risk contract and took a chance on Porter in the draft. They lost Chandler in a salary dump, but have the tools to win 50-plus games next season. Thomas could be a big difference maker if healthy and Porter gives them another building block for the future. If he can get past his back injury, he will fit in nicely with their young core.

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