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Takeaways from Wizards' win over tough Grizzlies team

Takeaways from Wizards' win over tough Grizzlies team

The Memphis Grizzlies may be more of a finesse team than in years past because of their 3-point shooting, but they went back to their grind-it-out roots to erase most of a 19-point lead before the Wizards held off a late charge to win their 13th in a row at Verizon Center, 104-101, on Wednesday night in front of 15,079.

John Wall posted his 24th double-double (25 points, 13 assists), Markieff Morris has his fourth (17 points, 12 rebounds) and Otto Porter (25 points) did most of his damage in the first half when he had 17. Bradley Beal (12 points) had a rough shooting night at 4-for-14 from the field.

Porter was quiet with just two points in the third quarter, but he knocked down two 3-pointers — two of a career-high six for the game — to stretch the lead for Washington (22-19) back to double-digits.

Marc Gasol (28 points) was the leading scorer for Memphis (25-19) but didn’t make any 3-point shots. It was the center’s three at the end of regulation that sent the Oct. 30 game into overtime that they won. The Wizards led that game 96-88 with a bit more than three minutes left.

Gasol was supported by the play of JaMychal Green (15 points, 13 rebounds) and Mike Conley (20 points, six assists).

The Wizards led 97-89 with 3:11 left in this one and had it whittled to 97-95 after three free throws from Gasol and a three from Conley at 2:34.

But Wall didn’t settle when Gasol switched out onto him for a crucial layup with the shot clock winding down and squeezed through the seam of the help for a layup. After a steal by Porter, Wall pulled the ball back on the baseline and then reversed to attack Gasol again for a layup and a 101-95 lead with 1:45 to seal it.

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--When Wall left the game to end the first quarter, the Wizards were ahead 30-24. When he returned midway through the second, the margin expanded to 48-34 because of another solid performance by the bench with Jason Smith (eight points, three rebounds) and Trey Burke (five points) factoring in early.

--Wall was angry on a no-call on a drive to the basket with 3:44 left in the first quarter and was assessed his ninth technical foul of the season. That puts him at fourth-most in the NBA with 41 games left.  If he reaches 11, the penalty will rise to $4,000. Smith picked up his first technical of the season which will cost him $2,000.

--Morris rushed his first two shots of the third quarter when he would’ve been better off passing the ball back out, resetting and then going at his man. The Wizards had trouble dealing with how much more physical the Grizzlies were out of the locker room, not getting their first field goal until 6:51 on a layup from Wall. The Grizzlies were willing to rack of fouls if it meant slowing the pace and they succeeded and had a chance to tie it on a final three from James Ennis. The Wizards had them in penalty early to shoot two free throws on each foul only to attempt six in the period.

--Tony Allen picked up two fouls in a five-second span of the third and had to go to the bench with four fouls. Beal was able to attack aggressive close outs for a pair of dunks but missed chances at all three open 3-point looks. Allen fouled out with 6:16 left. 

[RELATED: After best game of career, Wizards' rookie gets confidence back]

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Wizards 2018-19 end of season grades: Bradley Beal

Wizards 2018-19 end of season grades: Bradley Beal

Now that the dust has settled for the 2018-19 Wizards season, it's time to review the roster and hand out individual grades...

Who: Bradley Beal, shooting guard

2018-19 stats: 36.9 mpg, 25.6 ppg, 5.5 apg, 5.0 rpg, 1.5 spg, 0.7 bpg, 2.7 tov, 47.5 FG%, 35.1 3P% (2.5/7.3), 54.0 eFG%, 80.8 FT% (4.4/5.5), 113 ortg, 114 drtg

Best game: 1/13 vs. Raptors - 43 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds, three steals, two blocks, 6-12 3PT

Grade: A+

Season review: One could argue that nobody deserves a higher grade in the Wizards organization for their 2018-19 season than Bradley Beal, who had by far the best individual year of any player on the team. He had high expectations coming into the season and exceeded them, taking the next step from an All-Star to a legitimate All-NBA candidate.

Beal also continued to represent the organization well in public. He spoke for the team after many difficult losses with poise and maturity. And he brought positive attention to the franchise for his charitable efforts, recently being named as a finalist for the league's community assist award.

Beal's on-court performance was a shining light amid a disastrous season overall for the team. He set career-highs in scoring, rebounds, assists, steals and free throw attempts. He played in all 82 games for the second straight season and never complained despite leading the NBA in minutes.

The most impressive part of Beal's season may be how he responded when John Wall went down due to injury. Wall last played on Dec. 26 and in the next 47 games, Beal averaged 27.2 points, 6.0 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 1.8 steals. 

Beal's final numbers put him in elite company. He became the first 25-5-5 player in Wizards/Bullets franchise history. He was one of only six players to reach that mark this season, a list that includes Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, James Harden, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry.

Even as the season was winding down and the Wizards were well out of playoff contention, Beal gave an honest and consistent effort. That stood out in a year in which some of his teammates did not play hard and were called out by head coach Scott Brooks and team leaders for doing so. 

Now Beal, of course, had many reasons to keep giving 100 percent. With the numbers he has put up, he could make All-NBA in late May and, if he does, will qualify for a supermax contract. That could mean tens of millions more on his next deal, if he chooses to sign back with the Wizards.

As Beal looks ahead to this summer and next season, another question is how much better he can become. He took a significant step from the All-Star year he had in 2017-18. What if he makes another, similar leap?

Beal upped his scoring average by three points year-over-year. Another jump like that could put him in the MVP conversation, depending on how the Wizards finish in the standings.

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Why (and how) your NBA Cares Community Assist Award vote should go to Bradley Beal

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Why (and how) your NBA Cares Community Assist Award vote should go to Bradley Beal

Voting has officially begun for the season-long NBA Community Assist Award, and Wizards All-Star guard Bradley Beal is a finalist. 

Chosen by fans and an NBA executive panel, the award honors a player’s strong commitment to positively impacting his community through sustained efforts over the course of the season.

In December, Beal visited Ron Brown College Preparatory High school in D.C. to give away two pairs of shoes to every member of the JV and varsity basketball teams.

It didn't stop there. Beal took his role as a mentor to the next level by checking in with the kids multiple times a month to make sure they are on the right track in both athletics and their academic studies.

Later on in February, Beal invited 10 students from RBHS on a private tour of the National African-American History and Culture Museum.

The seven-year NBA veteran also made a point to donate game tickets to community groups and toys to the Salvation Army during the holiday season. 

Here's some key information about the voting process: 

  1. Voting begins: Wednesday, April 24th at 12:01 p.m.
  2. Voting ends: Sunday, May 5th at 11:59 p.m.
  3. How does voting work? Through the above date range, every tweet posted using both of the hashtags #BradleyBeal and #NBACommunityAssist counts as one vote.
  4. Retweets of tweets using the above hashtags also count as one vote

This all comes following another All-Star season that saw the 25-year-old finish with career-highs in points (25.6), rebounds (5.0), and assists (5.5). He played in all 82 regular-season games. 

The winning player will receive $25,000 to their charity of choice, a donation from the NBA and Kaiser Permanente.

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