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Wizards force Bucks superstar Giannis to career-high in turnovers

Wizards force Bucks superstar Giannis to career-high in turnovers

Few positives can be taken from a defensive perspective when a player scores 28 points on 11-of-18 shooting to go along with 13 rebounds and seven assists, a line that Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo compiled on Saturday night at the Verizon Center. But the Wizards - who won the game 110-105 - can take pride in one particular stat that did not reflect well on Antetokounmpo. 

That would be the turnover category where Antetokounmpo tied a career-high with seven of them. The Greek Freak commits his fair share of turnovers normally, ranking sixth in the NBA with 3.5 per game. But only once before has he had seven and not since January 24 of 2015.

"We tried to make it crowded for him and he did turn the ball over a few times, probably too many than he would like," head coach Scott Brooks said. "But that was our plan, just to crowd the paint and make it tough on him. But he is really a great player and we had our hands full tonight.”

Brooks relied heavily on his newly discovered small-ball lineup, one that includes both Otto Porter, Jr. and Kelly Oubre, Jr. on the floor at the same time. Both are primarily small forwards, but provide length and versatility which allow the Wizards to make smooth switches on defense. Oubre played the entire fourth quarter and Porter logged 9:24 of the frame.

Their long arms make it tough for defenders to go around them and that helped against Antetokounmpo, who had four turnovers in the second half. A 6-foot-11 point guard, Antetokounmpo likes to attack off the dribble and usually has no problem getting around his defenders.

"That was my prerogative tonight to take that matchup with Giannis pretty seriously," Oubre said. "Just try to speed him up. Don't give him what he's use to having. He's a driver, he's a slasher. Just stay in from of him. That's definitely what we tried to do and I feel like we did a great job of that tonight."

Giannis wasn't the only Bucks player the Wizards had success against defensively. Former second overall pick Jabari Parker was limited to a season-low eight points. Parker entered the game averaging 19.6 points on the year.

"The biggest thing was making sure they saw bodies," guard Bradley Beal said. "Their strongest point is driving to the basket. They love to get points in the paint."

This was a nice follow-up for the Wizards after they beat the Nuggets on Thursday night and held them to just 85 points, including 33 in the second half. To put together two consecutive defensive outings like this seems like a step in the right direction for a 9-13 Wizards team that is off to a disappointing start overall in large part because of their defense late in games.

Beal called their recent play on defense "grimy" and he meant it in a good way. Guard John Wall, who has complained about his team's defensive effort at times this season, also saw progress.

“I think we’re getting to the point where if we’re not making shots we’re still competing and keeping our edge on the defensive end and competing – making people feel us and I think that’s helping us," he said.

Now comes a chance to do it for three straight games. On Monday the Wizards will play the Miami Heat and attempt to do something they haven't done all year, win three games in a row.

[RELATED: Kelly Oubre breaks out for Wizards against Bucks]

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Don't expect Bradley Beal to request a trade from the Wizards

Don't expect Bradley Beal to request a trade from the Wizards

Bradley Beal made headlines on Friday afternoon when he said in an All-Star Q&A that he wants to stay with the Wizards for many years to come, that he hopes to “retire in this jersey” and that he is “all about loyalty.” 

That suggested he will not become the next NBA star to request a trade. But the topic of a trade request was never actually discussed.

So, a few hours later, NBC Sports Washington caught up with Beal for a 1-on-1 interview at the All-Star Celebrity Game to expand on those thoughts.

Beal explained in detail why he has no plans to ask the Wizards for a trade, and how he doesn’t envision a scenario where that could happen.

“I mean, look where that’s gotten a lot of guys now. It doesn’t always play out in your favor,” he told NBC Sports Washington.

“So, I’m thinking like what good could that bring me? In my head, that’s just more turmoil for the team. It’s another distraction."

Beal, 25, has two years left on his contract with the Wizards. He is due $27.1 million next season and $28.8 million for the 2020-21 campaign.

Beal was picked third overall by the Wizards in the 2012 NBA Draft. He has since developed into a two-time All-Star and has helped lead the Wizards to the playoffs four times in the past five years.

This season, however, things have gone south for the team. John Wall was lost for the year due to a torn Achilles and Dwight Howard has appeared in only nine games due to back surgery. 

The Wizards have made five trades since training camp, including ones to ship mainstays Otto Porter Jr. and Markieff Morris out of the organization.

They are currently 10 games under .500 at the All-Star break, which has put the spotlight on Beal’s future. The formula for a blockbuster trade usually includes a star on a losing team, and Beal fits the bill.

Beal, though, can already imagine the drawbacks of requesting a trade. He sees the mess that Anthony Davis and the Pelicans are dealing with in New Orleans and doesn't want that for himself.

"I always feel like if I requested a trade, and I didn’t get traded, there’s no way in hell I’m gonna be able to go and play with my teammates who know I don’t want to be here. That’s mind-boggling to me," he said.

People change their minds, and Beal very well could. But he insists he has no thoughts of leaving the Wizards and says the speculation can effectively end.

“Until the team doesn’t want me anymore, I’m gonna be here,” he said. “I’m here. I’m a Wizard, day in and day out. They pay me and I have to show up and do my work. Until that changes, that’s who I’m loyal to.”

 

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Loyal through trade rumors, Bradley Beal definitive for first time about future with Wizards

Loyal through trade rumors, Bradley Beal definitive for first time about future with Wizards

CHARLOTTE -- Bradley Beal made the most definitive comments yet about his future on Friday afternoon and it came in an All-Star question-and-answer fan event in downtown Charlotte.

In a forum hosted by ESPN's Molly Qerim, one fan first thanked Beal for all he has done for the Wizards, then followed it up with a pointed question about whether it’s time to “blow the team up.”

Beal first laughed as the crowd reacted with a collective ‘ooh.’ He joked “there’s a lot of tampering going on these days.”

Then, he delivered a clear picture of what he hopes is a long-term future in Washington.

“I hate change. If I can retire in this jersey, I will. I’m all about loyalty,” Beal said.

Beal has said the right things before, but the timing is interesting. With the Wizards outside of the playoff race, he has become the subject of trade rumors. Many fans and media members have wondered if he could be the next All-Star to want a change of scenery.

Beal, though, insists that isn’t in his nature.

“Granted, it goes both ways,” Beal said of wanting to stay with one team. “They can say they won’t trade you and [then they do.] It’s a business at the end of the day, but believe me... my parents [raised] me on loyalty and just constantly even keel no matter what. Tough time last not always, but tough people do.”

Beal, 25, is making his second All-Star appearance. He is averaging career-highs this season in points (25.1), assists (5.4) and rebounds (5.1).

He has two years left on his contract, due about $56 million through the 2020-21 season. Most stars who have left their original teams have done so with one year left on their deals, so all of this will have to be revisited down the road.

But Beal has already thought about the years ahead and has no intention of leaving D.C.

“When you first get [to the NBA], you don’t get control over where you’re drafted. But once you get there, you develop relationships with people. You develop family, businesses, foundations; everything. You create a life there and it’s tough to just up and move after,” he said.

There you go, Wizards fans. You can rest assured, Beal is not plotting his exit, at least not anytime soon.

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