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5 must-see moments from Wizards' 117-109 win over Magic, including Bradley Beal's big dunk

5 must-see moments from Wizards' 117-109 win over Magic, including Bradley Beal's big dunk

The Washington Wizards topped the Orlando Magic 117-109 on Monday night. Here are five plays or moments worth revisiting...

1. Like most games the Wizards have played this season, on Monday they started out scorching on offense while defense appeared optional. 

This play was an exception. Bradley Beal, whom you will see plenty more from in this post, got a steal that led to a three for Otto Porter Jr. on the other end:

Though the Wizards won, Porter was held to just six points in 22 minutes of action.

2. Back to Beal. Though that first-half play was nice, he was quiet for much of this game. It wasn't until less than five minutes were remaining in the third quarter that he flipped a switch.

But when he did, there was nothing the Magic could do to stop him. This was one of the plays he made during his third quarter takeover. He used a nifty behind-the-back crossover to set up Dwight Howard for an and-1 bucket:

3. Beal accounted for 10 points in a three-minute stretch, capped off with this steal and dunk:

Beal started the game 3-for-13 from the field, but ended it with 21 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block.

4. John Wall (25 points, 10 assists) and Jeff Green (18 points, six rebounds) also had big nights. They connected on this alley-oop in the fourth quarter:

Green had 10 points in the fourth quarter and Wall had nine.

5. Wall kept it going late with this fadeaway jumper to force a Magic timeout. The way he toyed with the defense off the dribble was quite impressive:

Speaking of Wall, if you ask Beal, it was the media (and more specifically ESPN's Stephen A. Smith) that set the five-time All-Star off. Wall, Beal says, was playing with some extra motivation with Smith sitting courtside:

Don't question him. Just go with it.

The Wizards have now won two straight games. In a sign that it's still super early and probably not time to freak out about the big picture, the Wizards are now just 1 1/2 games out of the eighth seed in the East.

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Bradley Beal’s outrageous outing vs. Hornets highlights both good and scary for Wizards

Bradley Beal’s outrageous outing vs. Hornets highlights both good and scary for Wizards

All-Star Bradley Beal returned from the break Friday night with an All-NBA performance.

The Wizards still lost 123-110 at Charlotte.

Within those two sentences there's hope and fear for this season and beyond.

Beal destroyed the Hornets for a season-high 46 points. His work over 42 minutes included high-level efficiency – 16 of 25 from the field, sank all 10 of his free throws plus seven assists and one turnover – and powerful moments. 

Beal scored 26 points in the second half, including 10 of Washington’s 23 in the final period. The Hornets knew where to focus their defensive effort. Washington’s leading scorer couldn’t have cared less and turned in arguably his best all-around game of the season.

When viewing a Wizards team going forward this season and especially next year for however long the injured John Wall sits, performances like this from Beal offer hope. Add starter-worthy help this summer, let Beal’s vibe lead the way and perhaps the team isn’t climbing uphill from the start next campaign.

Finding steady assistance now is the dilemma. If the Wizards intend on bringing back many of the current pieces, that dilemma could linger.

The non-Beal’s made only 10 more baskets than Beal and finished 26 of 72 (36.1 percent) from the field. Their collective assist-to-turnover numbers (17-12) explain some unsteady moments, especially during the second quarter when Charlotte rallied after Washington led 38-27. They tried. They just didn’t offer enough as Washington lost for the eighth time in 11 games.

Washington insisted veteran forward and 2019 unrestricted free agent Trevor Ariza remains in its plans beyond this season. That’s understandable based on Ariza’s historically strong two-way play even if his age (33) and possible contract demands (earned $15 million this season) offer potential downside.

The Wizards haven’t received the full-throated version since the trade with the Suns sent Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers to Phoenix. Ariza had 10 points on 4 of 13 shooting (2 of 7 from deep) against the Hornets. Usually a viable perimeter threat, Ariza entered Friday shooting 31.9 percent on 3-pointers. Oubre, a consistent clank during his four-year career, is hitting 32.4 percent from beyond the arc. 

Ariza’s addition offers more than just scoring, and some aspects are not easily quantifiable. Some numbers that attempt that feat are not in love. Ariza’s PER (13.1) trails Oubre’s (16). 

Chasson Randle and Wesley Johnson are not Washington’s most curious backup guard tandem this decade. They might be close, however. Other contenders usually played behind Beal and Wall, thus limiting the downside.

Johnson missed all five of his field goal attempts against the Hornets, while Randle played a pedestrian 13 minutes. Head coach Scott Brooks resorted to a big lineup with Beal as the lone guard. This maneuver worked easier with Otto Porter or, at least defensively, Oubre on the court. Neither lives here anymore.

Bobby Portis and Thomas Bryant offer Brooks two energetic interior options. With their size, mobility and shooting range, they seem like a viable pairing. For a team battered on the boards all season, using Bryant and Portis together conceivably boosts Washington’s rebounding chances. 

Brooks skipped using them together much before this game. Their defensive struggles against Charlotte showed why. Washington was outrebounded 53-43 all the same.

This team looks nothing like the one Brooks coached during his first two seasons. Only Beal, Tomas Satoransky and Ian Mahinmi played for the team that came within one game of the 2017 Eastern Conference finals. 

Ideally, Brooks’ patchwork lineup generates needed momentum while a playoff berth remains in reach. Washington (24-35), now a season-worst 11 games under .500, fell four games back of Detroit for the eighth and final playoff berth. 

Conceivably, this core returns next season. Washington opened salary cap space by trading Porter’s hefty contract. Keeping Ariza, Jeff Green, Satoransky, Portis and Bryant eats up much of that space. Growth from 2018 first round pick Troy Brown and the arrival of a player with a 2019 first round selection increases the upside. The hope for a turnaround comes from those that faced Charlotte Friday night.   

The non-Beal’s can do more now. Asking extra from Beal is outrageous, even if the shooting guard suggests that’s possible.

“I wish I could pinpoint on one thing,” Beal told reporters postgame when asked how this team finds a winning path. “But I just have to elevate my play, that’s all I know I can do is elevate my play and my leadership to do whatever it takes.”

That Beal believes more is possible is why he’s a keeper. None of us should doubt him considering the strides made during his second All-Star season. His determined approach is the kind found with contenders.

Even two-time All-Stars need help. Beal’s teammates must provide some quickly to keep hope alive this season as the organization ponders plans for the next one.

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Bradley Beal drops 46, but Wizards return from All-Star break with ugly loss to Hornets

Bradley Beal drops 46, but Wizards return from All-Star break with ugly loss to Hornets

The Washington Wizards lost to the Charlotte Hornets 123-110 on Friday night. Here are five observations from the game...

1. The All-Star break may have given the Wizards some much-needed time off, but it did not produce the reset in momentum that they were hoping for. They lost again on Friday night in their first game back and have now dropped eight of their last 11.

The losing overall has been devastating to their playoff hope,s and their latest defeat came against a team they are directly competing against. The Hornets are seventh in the East, and the Wizards are 11th.

Time is starting to run out, and losses like Friday's cause extra damage for the Wizards' chances of making the postseason.

2. At least Bradley Beal was good. The Wizards' lone All-Star came out of the break like he never went away.

He had 14 points in the first quarter and 20 by halftime. He finished with a season-high 46 points to go along with seven assists and six rebounds. He shot 64 percent on 25 attempts.

Beal also threw down what might have been the best dunk of his career. Not known as a high-flyer, Beal got way up there for this one:

If the Wizards' season continues on this losing trajectory, at least Beal gives D.C. fans a reason to tune in every night.

Beal, by the way, now has 10 career 40-point games. That is tied for fifth in Wizards/Bullets history with Earl Monroe. The only guys ahead of him are Gilbert Arenas (28), Walt Bellamy (23), Bernard King (13) and Elvin Hayes (11).

3. The first quarter was a dream. The second quarter was a nightmare.

After scoring 38 points in the first, the Wizards allowed the same amount to Charlotte in the second. They were outscored by 16 in the frame and never regained control. 

It was in the second that the Hornets' bench imposed their will. Tony Parker carved the Wizards up off the dribble and Jeremy Lamb both got hot from long range and caught the Wizards by surprise with a series of intercepted passes.

For the game, the Wizards' bench was outscored 38-21. They couldn't hold up their end of the bargain on a night the starters mostly played well.

4. Tomas Satoransky was back after missing two games due to the birth of his first child. He hadn't played in 13 days before he returned to the starting lineup on Friday.

Despite the time off, Satoransky showed no signs of rust. He had 15 points (6-9 FG) and four assists, though he did have three turnovers.

With John Wall out, Satoransky is legitimately one of the Wizards' most important players. That would have been surprising to hear before this season, but nothing about this year has been predictable for the Wizards. 

5. We got another glimpse at the combination of Thomas Bryant and Bobby Portis on the floor together. It was just the second time in five games since Portis arrived in D.C. that has happened.

It will be interesting to watch how much they play together the rest of this season, considering they have some redundancy in their games.

Offensively, it might be able to work. They are both fast and can stretch the floor. But defensively, they are both limited in the amount of positions they can defend and neither protects the rim particularly well.

Because of that, there are varying opinions within the organization about whether they can form a consistent frontcourt combination. That uncertainty has been reflected so far in head coach Scott Brooks' rotation. It is also something to consider as we project their futures with both set to hit restricted free agency this summer.

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