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Takeaways from Wizards' win over Pacers to take season series

Takeaways from Wizards' win over Pacers to take season series

Another season series is in the books for the Wizards after Thursday’s 111-98 win at the Indiana Pacers as they head into the All-Star break.

Otto Porter opened red hot from long range as he made all four of his three-point attempts in the first quarter en route to shooting 6-for-10 overall (game-high 25 points, eight rebounds). He was followed by Markieff Morris (21 points, seven rebounds), Bradley Beal (19 points), Marcin Gortat (12 points, seven rebounds) and John Wall posted his 35th double-double (20 points, 12 assists).

The Wizards (34-21) won the season series 3-1. They’ve also won the series with the Milwaukee Bucks 3-1, lead the Charlotte Hornets 2-0, the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks at 2-1.

Paul George (17 points) was limited to 6-for-19 shooting as he labored through the second game of a back-to-back for Indiana (29-28). Myles Turner (17 points, nine rebounds) was their best scorer with Rodney Stuckey (12 points) and Al Jefferson (12 points) being sparks off the bench.

--The difference in the outcome was three-point shooting. The Wizards, who held the Pacers to 4-for-21 shooting from three in the last meeting, kept them to 4-for-18 in this one. Conversely, they made 15 of 29 threes to tie a season-high.

[RELATED: John Wall hits and-1 layup off top of glass vs. Pacers]

--Porter’s hot hand forced the Pacers to shift George, who usually covers Beal, onto the small forward. Porter responded by beating him off the bounce and getting into the lane with floaters that were converted. It also allowed the Wizards to get Beal some relief and not have to crossmatch to get a bigger defender on George. Beal made 4 of 7 threes. There were too many fires to extinguish.

--The bench’s inability to defend well vs. the Pacers was a problem in the last meeting. Then it was a 15-for-23 second quarter, 65.2% shooting, that allowed them to flip a 33-27 deficit into a 47-38 lead over Washington. The Wizards could’ve ended this one early but repeated droughts offensively and blown defensive assignments forced the starters back in. A 13-2 run trimmed the Wizards’ lead to 97-90 with 6:42 left. The Pacers had a 39-14 edge in bench scoring, but defensively is where the group seemed to lack more than offense. To score better, they have to play better defensively.

--The Wizards had all five starters in double figures with three minutes left in the third quarter for an NBA-leading 22nd time. Wall also had his ninth consecutive double-double by then. Among guards, no one in the conference is anywhere close to Wall with total double-doubles.

--Clearly more comfortable in the offense, this was the most assertive that Ian Mahinmi (five points, four rebounds in 12 minutes) has been in playing in his fourth consecutive game. He put the ball on the floor in and went at Al Jefferson successfully in the paint. Mahinmi made both of his field-goal attempts.

--Jeff Teague (six points) can be a matchup problem for the Wizards if he's allowed to get into the paint. Wall was significantly better and didn't gamble. In the last six quarters vs. Washington, Teague has scored eight points. 

[RELATED: VIDEO: Otto Porter hits buzzer-beater after shot clock malfunction]

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Wizards have talked to the Spurs about Kawhi Leonard, report says

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Wizards have talked to the Spurs about Kawhi Leonard, report says

After already making significant changes to their roster, the Wizards may not be done this offseason, as according to a new report by ESPN, they have been in talks with the San Antonio Spurs about a potential trade for superstar Kawhi Leonard.

Read this from Adrian Wojnarowski:

Still, the bidding war among Boston, Philadelphia and the Lakers never materialized. The Los Angeles Clippers, Denver, Phoenix, Portland, Toronto and Washington are among teams who've talked with San Antonio, league sources said.

The Wizards certainly make sense as a Leonard suitor. They are in the East, meaning the Spurs could trade Leonard to them and not have to worry about facing him as often. Plus, they have a solid group of tradeable assets and ones that seem to fit the Spurs model.

Otto Porter is a versatile, young player under team control who plays an unselfish style and would likely embrace playing in a small market. He also has a salary ($26M in 2018-19) that isn't far off from Leonard's ($21M in 2018-19), so the money could be easily matched.

The Wizards also have Tomas Satoransky and Kelly Oubre, Jr., two young and up-and-coming players. Plus, they have draft picks, though ones that are unlikely to convey as lottery selections.

The Spurs have reportedly been more interested in getting players that can help now rather than draft picks to rebuild. That makes sense, as they still won 47 games last year despite Leonard only playing in nine of them due to injury.

The question in any Wizards and Spurs talks would be whether they would want one of Washington's All-Stars in John Wall and Bradley Beal. It would be tough to imagine the Wizards parting with either guy for Leonard, who carries some risk not only because of his quadriceps injury but also because he can opt out of his contract and leave after next season.

Just because the Wizards have talked to the Spurs doesn't mean they are serious contenders for Leonard, but it does show they are serious about improving their roster this summer. If they got Leonard and didn't part with Wall and Beal, that would be some team.

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John Wall says Wizards will do less talking this year, but could be best team he's played on

John Wall says Wizards will do less talking this year, but could be best team he's played on

The Wizards in recent years have made a habit of trying to speak things into existence and then not having them actually come into existence. They have talked the talk and then sometimes haven't walked the walk.

A few instances come to mind, including Bradley Beal saying of the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers that "they didn't want to see us" in the playoffs. Beal also said in November that the Washington was the best team in the East, just hours before James scored 57 points in the Wizards' building.

John Wall has made similar proclamations in the past, usually about himself, including how he is the best point guard in the Eastern Conference. Now, these statements were all relatively normal for professional athletes who pride themselves in always feeling like they are the best player on the floor or the field. It's part of the mindset that makes them who they are.

But when those statements are made and then not backed up, they can be tough to defend, and especially for a Wizards team which last season seemed to overlook the lesser teams and suffered a down year because of it.

Wall insists all that is about to change. In his 1-on-1 interview with Chris Miller on our Wizards Tipoff podcast, Wall said the message this year will be much different, much more muted than it has been in the past.

"We want to go out with a different mindset and a different focus. We're not trying to go in and think we're a team that has already established something and got respect from people. We have to earn that respect and that means going out and competing every night against the good teams or the bad teams," he said.

That doesn't mean Wall isn't confident. His belief in himself hasn't wavered and, in fact, he may believe in his team more now than ever. That's because he is happy with the offseason the front office has produced.

They signed Dwight Howard and Jeff Green in free agency, traded for Austin Rivers and drafted Troy Brown, Jr. in the first round. All should help the Wizards improve between Howard representing an upgrade at starting center and the others providing much-needed depth.

When Wall was asked by Chris if this is the most complete team he has played with in Washington, Wall left no doubts.

"Yeah, for sure. I definitely think so," he said. "I think it gives us the opportunity where we don't have to play as many minutes. That's the key. At the end of the year, you kind of fall short because you're fatigued. Nobody uses that as an excuse. You play and try to get into the best shape possible. But if you're playing 24 minutes, the whole half, and then 24 minutes and the whole half, you kind of get tired at some point. I think those guys can take a little of the burden and pressure off of us at times."

Listen to Wall's full 1-on-1 interview on the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

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