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Bradley Beal has best game of career as Wizards bounce back vs. Blazers

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Bradley Beal has best game of career as Wizards bounce back vs. Blazers

The Washington Wizards beat the Portland Trail Blazers 106-92 on Tuesday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Beal took over: The last two games we saw Bradley Beal begin the game with goggles, get off to a poor shooting start and then ditch them. On Tuesday, he went away with the protective eyewear altogether and there's a good chance we will never see them again.

Beal went off for a career-high 51 points in a performance of thorough dominance one night after one of the worst games in franchise history. In a game rife with star guards, Beal stood above all and there was nothing the Blazers could do to slow him down. 

Beal caught fire early with 12 points in his first 10 minutes. Everything was going in. He hit his threes (5-for-12) and reclaimed his ability to finish around the rim. This is an example of shots he had been missing in his previous two games:

In the Wizards' first two wins since Wall went down with his latest injury, Beal was held to 18 points combined. It was their bench and other members of the starting lineup who led them to victories. This time Beal was the spark. Opponents had found success overloading on Beal in previous games, but against the Blazers he made the adjustment and broke through against a very good defensive team.

Beal had 19 points in the first half and amazingly got better in the second. He had 19 points in the third quarter alone, shooting 8-for-11 in the frame. Beal shot 21-for-37 for the game, the most field goal attempts for a Wizards player in one game since Gilbert Arenas in 2006.

Beal's 51 points were the most ever for an opponent at the Moda Center and the most ever on the road against the Blazers. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar held the previous record with 49 points in 1972.

Considering Beal had 50 points combined in his previous four games, this was quite the turn of events. Just when it seemed fair to question how he was performing without John Wall, Beal put an end to that theory with emphasis.

Bench lifted them again: The Wizards led by two points after the first quarter and built a 14-point by halftime in large part due to their bench. Kelly Oubre, Jr. (14 points, five steals) let a fuse with an array of plays on offense. He hit a three, drove right and finished with his left hand and hit a midrange jumper off a screen. He also had a steal on Pat Connaughton and finished on the other end on a give-and-go by Tomas Satoransky.

Mike Scott had one of his better games with 10 points and five rebounds on 5-for-5 shooting. He hit two midrange jumpers in the first quarter and continued to heat up in the second. Oubre and Scott are the two best offensive players the Wizards have on their bench and both helped change this game with their scoring. Scott has found himself in and out of the Wizards' rotation in recent weeks and it remains a mystery why.

The Wizards had 41 bench points compared to 13 for the Blazers. 

McCollum kept quiet: Beal also helped contribute to an important defensive effort. The Blazers are a below average offensive team heavily reliant on Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Stop either of those two and you are in business.

Lillard got his with 30 points, nine assists and eight rebounds. But McCollum was limited to 14 points on 6-for-16 (37.5%) shooting. Beal deserves some credit for that, too.

Up next: The Wizards get a much-needed off day before moving on to Phoenix to play the Suns on Thursday night. Tipoff is at 9 p.m.


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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

The 2018 NBA offseason in just three weeks has become one of the wildest summers in the league's history between LeBron James signing with the Lakers, and all the characters that followed him, to DeMarcus Cousins surprising everyone to sign with the Golden State Warriors, to Kawhi Leonard getting traded to the Raptors.

As crazy as it all has been, two teams in the Eastern Conference stand out for so far doing very little, either by choice or circumstance. The Celtics and Sixers, the two teams most see as the favorites in the East, appear at least so far to be running it back with the same group of players.

This appears to be the Celtics' intention. After overhauling their roster last summer, they clearly see an opportunity to take a step forward as-is. Boston was one win away from the NBA Finals and will return Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving from injury. With James gone to the West, they can improve significanly just by keeping it all together.

Boston re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes. Their biggest addition this summer so far has been their first round pick, Robert Williams.

The Sixers, unlike the Celtics, didn't appear to plan on doing it this way. They wanted James and missed out. They reportedly had interest in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, but both went elsewhere. There are no stars left to sign in free agency and the trade market may be drying up.

Philly made some minor moves like trades for Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala. They may also have a deal for Kyle Korver in the works. They also had two first round picks in Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet.

There's a chance the Sixers got better than people think, as many of the moves they made seem smart. But they didn't reel in a big fish and will probably come back for the 2018-19 season with a team very similar to the one that made the second round of the playoffs this spring.

The fact the Celtics and Sixers may stand pat is probably a good thing for the rest of the East. Both teams may improve naturally if they are healthier and if their young players continue to ascend. But neither made a game-changing addition, one that would solidify either as an unstoppable superteam in the conference. 

The West is overloaded with title contenders and All-NBA players. The East, meanwhile, is much more open and it may end up staying that way mainly because Boston and Philly have been quiet so far this summer.

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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. 



John Wall's take on Dwight Howard 

Wizards make Dwight Howard free agent signing official 

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