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Whiteside wows Gortat: 'I haven't seen a better shot-blocker'


Whiteside wows Gortat: 'I haven't seen a better shot-blocker'

Hassan Whiteside didn't play in the fourth quarter for the Miami Heat on Sunday for a different reason than the last time when they met the Wizards. Sunday, the NBA's leading shot-blocker was so dominant in a 97-75 victory that his services weren't needed.

"Hassan Whiteside was incredible," said Wizards center Marcin Gortat, who had his shot blocked four times by the NBA's best rim protection. "I personally haven't seen a better shot-blocker in the past nine years in the league. He's really challenging a lot of shots and changing the whole game. He's pretty good."

Whiteside, who had 25 points and 19 rebounds in Miami's win against the Dallas Mavericks two days ago, had a more modest stat sheet in this one. he came over to reject mid-range shots by the 6-11 Gortat. 

In a 114-103 loss to the Wizards on Dec. 7 with Gortat absent on personal leave, coach Erik Spoelstra pulled the 7-footer in the fourth quarter in a feeble attempt to counter coach Randy Wittman's small-ball lineup. It didn't work. 

Even when the Wizards (15-17) went small Sunday, Spolestra stuck with Whiteside. The Wizards couldn't take advantage because they couldn't buy a bucket in the second quarter when they shot 2 of 22.

Garrett Temple had an open three in front of his bench, passed it up and dribbled inside the lane only to have it altered by Whiteside. John Wall had a transition layup nullified.

"You understand he's there but we played against a lot of shot-blockers," Temple said. "You got to continue to attack him. He can't block all of them. You have to try to use his aggressiveness trying to block shots to your advantage sometimes. Maybe gets some drop-offs to March, pump-faking, (getting him) in foul trouble. I think we shied away from that. We didn't attack him as much as we should have."

Whiteside didn't pick up his first foul until 4:27 of the second quarter. It was his only foul in 30 minutes played as he finished with six points, 13 rebounds and six blocks compared to the 14 points, four rebounds and three blocks he had in the first meeting.

"We ran pick-and-rolls. We moved the ball," Wall said. "We had about five or six layups that got blocked, missed a couple layups, missed free throws. We got the looks we wanted."

Wall, however, wasn't willing to go as far as Gortat with his praise of Whiteside.

"Gortat," he said, "says that about everybody that blocks shots."

MORE WIZARDS: Heat annihilate Wizards 97-75: Five takeaways

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

The 2018 NBA offseason in just three weeks has become one of the wildest summers in the league's history between LeBron James signing with the Lakers, and all the characters that followed him, to DeMarcus Cousins surprising everyone to sign with the Golden State Warriors, to Kawhi Leonard getting traded to the Raptors.

As crazy as it all has been, two teams in the Eastern Conference stand out for so far doing very little, either by choice or circumstance. The Celtics and Sixers, the two teams most see as the favorites in the East, appear at least so far to be running it back with the same group of players.

This appears to be the Celtics' intention. After overhauling their roster last summer, they clearly see an opportunity to take a step forward as-is. Boston was one win away from the NBA Finals and will return Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving from injury. With James gone to the West, they can improve significanly just by keeping it all together.

Boston re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes. Their biggest addition this summer so far has been their first round pick, Robert Williams.

The Sixers, unlike the Celtics, didn't appear to plan on doing it this way. They wanted James and missed out. They reportedly had interest in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, but both went elsewhere. There are no stars left to sign in free agency and the trade market may be drying up.

Philly made some minor moves like trades for Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala. They may also have a deal for Kyle Korver in the works. They also had two first round picks in Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet.

There's a chance the Sixers got better than people think, as many of the moves they made seem smart. But they didn't reel in a big fish and will probably come back for the 2018-19 season with a team very similar to the one that made the second round of the playoffs this spring.

The fact the Celtics and Sixers may stand pat is probably a good thing for the rest of the East. Both teams may improve naturally if they are healthier and if their young players continue to ascend. But neither made a game-changing addition, one that would solidify either as an unstoppable superteam in the conference. 

The West is overloaded with title contenders and All-NBA players. The East, meanwhile, is much more open and it may end up staying that way mainly because Boston and Philly have been quiet so far this summer.

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Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld has stayed relatively busy this summer crafting his new-look lineup for the 2018-19 season. 

One of the team's key additions, Dwight Howard, is set to be introduced as a member of the Wizards on Monday. 

NBC Sports Washington will air the introductory press conference live at 1 p.m. while also streaming it online.  

Ernie Grunfeld and head coach Scott Brooks are both expected to be in attendance. 

The 32-year-old big man is coming off a 2017-18 season with the Charlotte Hornets in which he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. 

Since leaving the Orlando Magic after eight seasons in 2011, Howard has played for four different teams in the last six years. 

Howard is an eight-time all-star and a three-time defensive player of the year. 



John Wall's take on Dwight Howard 

Wizards make Dwight Howard free agent signing official 

By the numbers: Is new Wizards center Dwight Howard still in his NBA prime?