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Wizards lose ninth straight to open season

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Wizards lose ninth straight to open season

OK, so there are two ways you can look at the Wizards’ dreadful 0-9 start.

The optimist in you says they are a player or two (John Wall and/or Nene) from turning their narrow defeats into narrow victories.

The pessimist in you says they are halfway to matching the NBA record of starting a season with 18 straight losses.

In what has become a broken record this season, the Wizards were persistent enough to whittle a 20-point deficit down to one with 3:30 to play. But they couldn’t get the crucial bucket they needed down the stretch and fell 96-89 to the visiting Indiana Pacers at Verizon Center.

The Wizards are now the first team in franchise history to start a season with nine straight losses, eclipsing last year’s 0-8 start under deposed coach Flip Saunders.

This time, it was rookie Bradley Beal reeling off 15 second-half points to lead the Wizards on the brink of their first win.

The Wiz drew within 86-85 with 3:30 remaining when Chris Singleton hit a jumper and was fouled. But he missed his free throw and the Wizards never got closer than three points the rest of the way as David West scored 13 of his game-high 30 points in the fourth quarter.

Beal’s 18 points led the Wizards, followed by Kevin Seraphin’s 13 and Jordan Crawford’s 11.

The Wizards and Pacers entered Monday night’s game as the two lowest-scoring teams in the NBA.

Still, the Pacers ran out to a 21-6 lead on 69 percent shooting. The Wizards shot just 10 percent in that same stretch. By the end of the first quarter the Wizards had seven players in the scoring column but no one with more than two points.

The Wizards shot 40 percent in the second quarter and would have entered the half trailing by seven if not for a careless foul by Earl Barron that sent D.J. Augustin to the line with 2.2 seconds remaining. Augustin sank both free throws and the Pacers [5-7] entered the break with just their second halftime lead of the season at 50-41.

It marked the seventh time this season the Wizards had to fight back from a halftime deficit. And once again, they did. Using a 16-0 run late in the third quarter the Wizards cut a 20-point deficit down to 71-67 entering the fourth quarter.

Beal, who earlier in the quarter missed seven straight shots, found his range during that run, scoring nine points in the third quarter, including a pair of threes.

Beal opened the fourth quarter by getting fouled on a 3-point attempt and drained all three free throws to keep the Wiz within four. Singleton brought the Wiz to within one, but back-to-back misses by Shaun Livingston and Seraphin allowed the Pacers to close the door on the Wizards.

Again.

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Bradley Beal's agent says guard's not looking for a trade: 'He wants to win'

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Bradley Beal's agent says guard's not looking for a trade: 'He wants to win'

Bradley Beal, his agent Mark Bartlestein told Bleacher Report, would like to stay in Washington - even as he's a hot topic among front offices as the trade deadline approaches.

From Bleacher Report:

His agent, Mark Bartelstein, is not looking for a trade. "Brad wants to win, Bartelstein told B/R. "He wants to win at the highest level, and he wants to compete for championships. I think he's seeing progress, and he's going to do everything he can to lead this team. They got themselves into a huge hole, and he's going to do his best to get them out of it.

The Wizards are facing tough decisions when it comes to the future of the franchise as this season's trade deadline approaches. Beal, as NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig detailed this week, is among the most tradable assets they have, especially when it comes to their three major contracts. But owner Ted Leonsis took a firm stance against tanking while speaking to reporters in London, and Beal is integral to their playoff hopes with John Wall sidelined. 

This isn't the first time this season that Beal has denied wanting to be anywhere but DC. When drama swirled around the team earlier this season, Beal denied a report that he had requested a trade.

"That's nonsense," he said at the time. "I heard it earlier before the game and I was like, 'If it didn't come from the horse's mouth, it wasn't me.' I got this Washington jersey on and I come here and work everyday, you know, until otherwise. This is where I wanna be."

Earlier this season, it was reported that the Raptors were interested in Beal but couldn't afford what the Wizards were asking for him. According to the latest report on Beal from Bleacher Report, there are a number of teams who may still be interested. 

Again, from Bleacher Report:

There are so many teams in the mix trying to make that extra push that want Beal," a Western Conference executive told B/R.

But even if some fans are clamoring for a big trade at the deadline, the price tag for Beal - who had 26 points in the Wizards' comeback win over the Knicks this week - only seems to be rising. 

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G-Leaguer Jordan McRae who dropped 54 points could be a roster addition for Wizards

G-Leaguer Jordan McRae who dropped 54 points could be a roster addition for Wizards

Time is nearly up for the Washington Wizards to replace Ron Baker on the active roster.

Jordan McRae made his strongest push yet for the gig.

McRae, one of the Wizards’ two-way contract players, scored 54 points for Capital City Friday night in the Go-Go’s 118-107 win over the Main Red Claws. That’s the most points scored by any G-League player this season.

Makes sense this wing guard holds the distinction. McRae leads the league in scoring with 29.5 points per game.

Finding such opportunities with Washington this season has not come as easy. McRae, a 27-year-old with prior NBA experience, scored only four points in 35 minutes over eight games for the 19-26 Wizards this season.

While shuttling back and forth between the two levels since Baker’s release on Jan. 7, the 6-foot-5 guard’s lone appearance came in the final minutes of a 17-point win over Philadelphia on Jan. 9.

For now, McRae and Devin Robinson, Washington’s other two-way contract player, offer in-case-of-emergency depth. Robinson traveled with the Wizards to London for Thursday’s win over the New York Knicks but did not play.

Someone else will join the roster soon.

League rules mandate a minimum of 14 players. Teams have two weeks to reach that number should they drop below. Washington, which kept its 15th slot open all season, did upon releasing Baker.

The Wizards could and likely will fill the void by signing a free agent to a 10-day contract. Another body would not hurt.

John Wall (heel surgery) is out for the season. Uncertain recovery timelines exist for forward Markieff Morris (neck) and center Dwight Howard (back surgery).

McRae is not an option for the 10-day scenario, but he has shown a readiness with the scorching Go-Go. Capital City has won seven of its last eight games.

“He’s done a great job staying with his development on and off the court,” Go-Go coach Jarell Christian said of McRae. “He’s our leader. For him to continue to play the right way, everyone else just falls in line.”

McRae’s scoring surge comes after he sat out last season with a shoulder injury.

“It was the first time in my life being injured. Being out for a whole year, it was tough for me,” McRae said. “Being with these guys every day, going back and forth with the Wizards, it’s tiring, but its fun. It’s my job.”

Christian offered advice on the key for McRae should the Wizards eventually turn McRae’s contract from a two-way to an NBA deal and set him loose on the court.

“I think it’s just about his mentality. When he's thrown into a game on the next level, still being able to function without getting the ball every possession. Being a floor spacer and continue to play defense,” Christian said. “He’s taken initiatives in some games and become the best defender on the team. I think every team wants somebody who wants to take that initiative and become a lockdown defender.”

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