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Wizards-Hornets preview: Pick it up, Porter


Wizards-Hornets preview: Pick it up, Porter

Matchup: Washington Wizards (22-26) at Charlotte Hornets (24-26)

When: Saturday, 6:30 p.m. (TV: CSN, CSNMidatlantic.com via NBC Sports Live Extra) 

Season series: 1-1. Washington won the previous meeting, 109-101 on Dec. 19 as John Wall scored 27 points and Garrett Temple had 21.

Streaks: With Bradley Beal back in the starting lineup, the Wizards snapped a three-game skid with a wire-to-wire 106-94 win over the Philadelphia 76ers Friday night as Wall recorded his fourth career triple-double with 18 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. ...The Hornets fell 98-95 against the Heat Friday night after winning two in a row.

Scenario: The Hornets and Wizards are 9th and 10th respectively in the East. The Pacers (26-24) sit two games ahead of Charlotte, three over Washington for the eighth and final playoff spot.

Pick it up, Porter: With Bradley Beal returning to the starting lineup and Nene sitting out with a calf injury, the Wizards' second unit lacked some of its usual punch Friday night. Coach Randy Wittman often inserts a starter with that group in the second quarter while John Wall and others rest. Against the 76ers, that task fell to Otto Porter with just over 10 minutes remaining before halftime. Often an intangibles-heavy player when on the court with Wall and the other starters, this presented an assertive opportunity for Porter especially with Washington already up by 17 points. Yet the small forward's offensive approach remained the same, remaining part of the chorus instead ascending to the spotlight role. After three largely uneventful minutes, he went back to the bench.

There's no serious long-term judging based on one short segment of a game over an 82-game season. Yet this stretch typified Porter's primary crossroads on the NBA level. It's one thing to know your place when Wall, Beal and Marcin Gortat are around. It's another to pass on taking over when they're not.

When Wall cooks, as he did Friday, the Wizards win or remain in contention until the end. When he doesn't, others must fill in the gaps. More often than not, that hasn't happened this season. Beal certainly has the goods, especially now that he's become more forceful with drives at the rim, but he remains on a minutes watch following his return from another leg stress injury. 

It's possible a recent hip injury is hurting Porter's game more than anyone is letting on. Regardless, he has scored fewer than 10 points in four of the last five games.

For the most part this season, the former Georgetown star provided needed activity. He ranks second behind Wall with 1.6 steals. Keeping balls alive on the offensive boards, hockey assists, those subtle plays stat sheets don't always pick up.

The statisticians do track 3-point shooting. Porter's percentage puts him in company with Russell Westbrook, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. In this case, that's not good. Porter's 30.5 clip on 3-pointers ranks above those All-Stars, but is sixth worst in the league among players with at least 150 attempts. That's not helpful whether in the secondary or primary role.

Only the misinformed projected Porter as a true takeover player after the Wizards selected him No. 3 overall in the 2013 NBA Draft. That doesn't mean his 3-and-D skill set couldn't be a notable factor for a winning team. He certainly keyed the first-round playoff sweep over Toronto last season.. But that also doesn't mean he can't take more control for those three minute segments. The Wizards need just that if they're going to take control of a playoff berth.

RELATED: Some of Wizards' bad habits persist

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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. 



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

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Carmelo Anthony traded to Hawks in three-team deal, but not likely to stay

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Carmelo Anthony traded to Hawks in three-team deal, but not likely to stay

The stage has been set for Carmelo Anthony to hit free agency, as the 10-time All-Star was traded to the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday in a three-team deal, one that will lead to a subsequent buyout of his contract. ESPN first reported the news and noted that the Rockets are the favorites to sign him.

The full deal sends Dennis Schroder from the Hawks to the Thunder in exchange for Anthony and a protected first-round pick, and sends Mike Muscala from Atlanta to Philly. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot will go to the Thunder from Philly and Justin Anderson will go from the Sixers to the Hawks.

That's a complicated deal, but it ultimately frees Anthony up to choose a new team. He was set to make $27.9 million from the Thunder next season, but the Hawks are footing the bill to let him walk.

Anthony's skills have declined now that he's 34 years old. Last season, he averaged 16.2 points on 40.4 percent shooting, way down from the 22.4 points he averaged the season before with the Knicks.

Still, Anthony could help a team looking for a scoring punch and the Rockets would like some more help in their quest to take down the Warriors. If he signs there, he will join friend Chris Paul and the 2017-18 MVP, James Harden. 

Houston has been the logical landing spot for Anthony ever since news broke that the Thunder were looking for a way out of his contract. If he doesn't go there, perhaps the Lakers would make sense. LeBron James is going to need a lot more help than the roster he currently has around him to make some noise in the crowded Western Conference.