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Wizards lax on defense but Bradley Beal electrifies even better offense

Wizards lax on defense but Bradley Beal electrifies even better offense

Bradley Beal and John Wall looked up at the scoreboard at Golden 1 Arena, trailing by 15 points entering the fourth quarter vs. the Sacramento Kings. The Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors had lost to clear a path to the No. 2 spot in the East.

They decided it was time to flip the switch and responded by playing the type of basketball that should've made it a blowout from the opening tip. Beal scored 16 of his game-high 38 points in the fourth as the Wizards forced overtime and won 130-122 on Saturday.

"This beautiful arena has scoreboards everywhere. I was able to peek over and see Boston took an L and so did Toronto," said Beal, who was playing at the new home of the Kings for the first time. "It’s important for us in terms of the seeding. John and I both looked at it and said to each other we got to get it and turned it on in  the fourth quarter."

Wall had a chance to win the game in regulation but his fadeaway jumper over Willie Cauley-Stein rimmed out. 

The Wizards (40-24) are one win away from tying their win total for last season and drawing to .500 on the road. They're 14-15 entering tonight's game at the Portland Trail Blazers.

Beal has been potent since the All-Star break. In nine games, Beal is averaging 28.6 points, 54% field-goal shooting; 43.1% three-point shooting, 86.7% foul shooting; 4.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.2 steals. They're averaging 114 points since the break which is fourth-best in the NBA.

The Wizards are 3-0 on this five-game road trip but have given up an average of 120.7 points which has gone against the core principles of coach Scott Brooks.

"We love the wins but we’re putting ourselves in bad positions," Beal said. "We’re developing bad habits. Something we can’t have this late in the season, moving forward we’ll face tougher teams and against playoff teams you get down like that early they’re going to put you away.

The Kings were held to 9-for-26 shooting after the third quarter. Beal and Otto Porter were more physical on Buddy Heild, who failed to score after halftime. Wall's ball pressure was suffocating Darren Collison and Ty Lawson. 

"Once we do that, our whole momentum changes, our whole swagger, our whole identity changes," Beal said. "We’re more physical, we’re more locked into the game, we’re playing faster. Then our offense flows right out of it."

The Blazers are the NBA's best scoring offense since the break. They're averaging better than 50% shooting, too. The Wizards steamrolled them in their first meeting, 120-101, on Jan. 16 but they're not playing the kind of defense now that they showed then. The Minnesota Timberwolves are the final opponent on this stretch Monday.

"We have to figure it out. These two teams we got, they’ve got guys that can score at a really high level," Wall said. "To take the next step we got to get back to that. … We have to lock in and be better."

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Jeff Green 'would love to come back' to Wizards, add stability to journeyman career

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Jeff Green 'would love to come back' to Wizards, add stability to journeyman career

With six different teams in the past five years, Jeff Green has become one of the NBA's most itinerant journeymen.

Including his early-career move from Seattle to Oklahoma City, when the franchise transitioned from the Sonics to the Thunder, Green has played in eight different cities. Among active players, only Ish Smith (10), Marco Bellinelli (nine), Shaun Livingston (nine) and Anthony Tolliver (nine) have played for more teams.

Being in Washington this past season, though, was different. That's because Green is from the area, having grown up nearby in Maryland. He starred at Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, then at Georgetown University in Northwest D.C.

At 32 years old (he turns 33 in August), Green does not prefer being a basketball nomad. He would like to stay with the Wizards this summer as he aims for a new contract in free agency.

"I would love to come back," Green said. "Great set of guys on this team. I loved playing with Brad [Beal], John [Wall]."

Green also mentioned playing for head coach Scott Brooks, for whom he played in Seattle and Oklahoma City. Brooks was an assistant on the Sonics staff when Green was a rookie, then took over as head coach in the middle of Green's sophomore season. Green left the Thunder after his third season and, 10 years later, was reunited with Brooks in Washington.

The biggest draw for Green to the Wizards, though, is the fact it is his hometown team. Though playing at home is a drawback for some players, Green found major benefits in being around family and in the town where he played college ball.

"Being in front of family every night was great for me. It allowed me to see my daughters more than a couple of times a year, which was great," he said. 

"Being in a familiar setting from my Georgetown days was great. Being able to go up to Georgetown and watch the guys get better, it was great. [Those are] things I haven’t been able to do since being in the league."

On the court, Green found individual success with the Wizards amid a disappointing season overall. He averaged 12.3 points and 4.0 rebounds while setting a career-high in effective field goal percentage (55.5). 

He did all of that while making the league minimum of $2.4 million. On a Wizards team that was in some ways defined by bloated salaries, Green proved a bargain. 

Hoping to come back to the Wizards was a familiar refrain from impending free agents during the Wizards' media exit interviews. Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker, Thomas Bryant and others all suggested they would like to return. 

But with a new front office leadership structure set to be installed, certainty isn't offered for anyone. For Green, the Wizards' new general manager will need to evaluate whether he was part of their problems. 

While Green probably exceeded expectations this season, he was on the floor when the team struggled to rebound the ball and defend just like his teammates were. The Wizards were 27th in the NBA in defensive rating this season at 112.8, according to NBA.com. Green's defensive rating was 112.6.

The Wizards and Green may ultimately not prove a fit in the eyes of the new GM. If that is the case, Green could move on to play in a new city, the ninth of his career. 

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Former Wizards Mike Scott, Jared Dudley deliver the drama in Sixers-Nets Game 4

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Former Wizards Mike Scott, Jared Dudley deliver the drama in Sixers-Nets Game 4

The 76ers-Nets playoff series has been wild from the start, but the trash talk and physical play reached the next level in the Sixers' Game 4 victory Sunday. 

The contest featured two ejections as well as a game-deciding shot with 19.7 seconds left in the fourth quarter. In the middle of it all? None other than Jared Dudley and Mike Scott, who played for the Wizards in 2015-16 and 2017-18, respectively. 

Tensions between Dudley and the Sixers had been simmering since he slammed Ben Simmons in the media after Game 1.

With 7:42 left in the third quarter Saturday, Joel Embiid committed a flagrant foul on Jarrett Allen under the basket. An incensed Dudley shoved Embiid, prompting Jimmy Butler to push Dudley away.

When Simmons to try to separate the two, he and Dudley got tangled up and tumbled into the front-row seats. Both Dudley and Butler were ejected on the spot. 

The Nets held a 67-61 advantage when Dudley and Butler were tossed, but that lead dwindled to one point with under a minute left to go. 

Brooklyn made the mistake of leaving Scott open in the corner, where Embiid set him up for a go-ahead three-pointer with 19.7 seconds remaining.

A pair of Tobias Harris free throws sealed the Sixers' 112-108 win, putting them up 3-1 in the series. Scott and company can finish off Dudley's squad in Game 5 on Tuesday. 

In the meantime, listen as Scott goes 1-on-1 with Chris Miller in the latest Wizards Talk Podcast. 

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