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Bradley Beal’s historic night highlights Washington Wizards’ key win vs. Memphis Grizzlies

Bradley Beal’s historic night highlights Washington Wizards’ key win vs. Memphis Grizzlies

The Washington Wizards topped the Memphis Grizzlies, 135-128, on Saturday night. Here are five observations from the game...

1. The 2018-19 season for the Wizards has been so far defined by brilliance from Bradley Beal amid subpar results for the team overall. On Saturday night, the rest of the Wizards held up their end of the bargain.

The Wizards knocked off the Grizzlies behind 40 points by Bradley Beal, the second straight night he reached the 40 mark. That tied a franchise record for consecutive 40-point games with seven other players, among them Gilbert Arenas and Michael Jordan.

Beal also moved into fourth place in franchise history with his 12th 40-point game. The only guys ahead of him are Arenas (28), Walt Bellamy (23) and Bernard King (13).

The Wizards have now won three of their last four and five of eight. The road ahead, though, is about to get tougher. They host the Jazz, go on the road to Chicago, then welcome the Nuggets and Heat to town. Three of those teams are in the playoff picture currently and the Bulls have improved since trading for Otto Porter Jr.

2. Beal got his most of his points from the perimeter, where he set a career-high with nine 3-pointers. He had four of them in the first quarter alone. 

Those nine threes were the most for a Wizards/Bullets player since Trevor Ariza made 10 back in 2014. Ariza is the only other player in franchise history to make more than eight in a game.

The list of Wizards or Bullets players to make eight 3-pointers or more in a game is a random one. Also on there are Arenas, Rex Chapman, DeShawn Stevenson and Bojan Bogdanovic.

3. Bobby Portis had a nice bounce-back game. After combining for only nine points in his last two outings, he was much better against the Grizzlies.

It didn't start that way. In the first quarter, Portis airmailed a dunk attempt and was called for traveling. But soon after, he settled in and over and over was rewarded for running the floor and being active in the lane.

Portis had 18 points, six rebounds and shot 3-for-5 from three. It was much more like the Portis we are used to seeing. He spread the floor and did work on the glass.

Portis, by the way, is now shooting 45.2 percent from three on the season.

4. A big reason the Grizzlies stuck around in this game was the first half play by Chandler Parsons. Yeah, that Chandler Parsons -- the guy who has barely played this season because he was at odds with the front office.

Though Parsons has become famous for not living up to his contract, he turned back the clock against the Wizards. He popped off for 11 points in 10 minutes in the first half, including a swished three and a series of nifty moves off the dribble.

Parsons ended up with 16 points, a season-high. Even he can score against the Wizards' defense these days, apparently.

Joakim Noah also got in on the action. Much like Parsons, his best years are behind him. But he poured in 15 points with eight rebounds and gave the Wizards' bigs some real trouble.

5. Jordan McRae was with the Wizards for Saturday's game, though he didn't play. If he had, that would have been something, given he played for the Capital City Go-Go in the G-League earlier in the afternoon.

McRae, though, will probably be around a lot more in the coming weeks. After being with the Wizards on Saturday, he has eight days left on his 45-day two-way contract clock. But that only counts until the G-League regular season ends on March 23. 

With seven days until March 23, the Wizards are in the clear as far as having to convert him to an NBA contract. Technically, they already were as travel days and road off-days do not count.

But either way, expect to see McRae a lot more from here on out.


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Wizards District Gaming takes JBM with No.1 pick in 2020 NBA 2K League Draft

Wizards District Gaming takes JBM with No.1 pick in 2020 NBA 2K League Draft

Sixty eight gamers' lives changed on Saturday night. 

One of those very lucky individuals was Jack Mascone, who was selected by Wizards District Gaming with the No.1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA 2K League Draft. 

Wizards’ managing partner Ted Leonsis had a special message for the point guard from New York, who joins the Monumental Sports & Entertainment family. 

“On behalf of the Wizards, Mystics and Go-Go we’d like to welcome JBM to the Monumental basketball family. Congratulations on your hard work paying off. We’re excited to have you run the District with us,” Leonsis said.

Wizards District Gaming also drafted small forward Justin Howell in the second round, No. 30 overall, small forward Antonio Newman, No. 37, and utility Brandon Richardson at No. 51 in the third round. 


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Rui Hachimura's learning curve can be seen on offense late in games

Rui Hachimura's learning curve can be seen on offense late in games

WASHINGTON -- Wizards forward Rui Hachimura has translated so smoothly to the NBA level that it is easy to forget he is still just a rookie with only 31 games under his belt. For a reminder of his inexperience, just look at the fourth quarter.

Hachimura tends to start games hot on the offensive end, like he did on Friday in the Wizards' loss to the Cavaliers when he had eight points by the end of the first quarter. But he scored only nine points after that and went scoreless through seven minutes in the fourth.

That has been a consistent theme for him this season. He averages 4.8 points in the first quarter shooting 48.4 percent from the field, 4.0 points in the second shooting 57 percent and then 4.3 points on 47.9 percent in the third. In the fourth quarter those numbers plummet to 1.9 points on average and 33.3 percent shooting.

Basically, Hachimura often comes out on fire but then slows down considerably once opponents make midgame changes. Against the Cavs, Hachimura said it was because they disrupted passing lanes.

"They are an NBA team. They just adjusted. They didn't want me to catch the ball. They didn't let me just catch the ball. I think that's why," he said.

The Wizards have seen teams switch defensive match-ups midgame to counter Hachimura. Sometimes taking away his midrange jumper will be prioritized. The Cavs seemed to find success playing Hachimura more physically in the second half, bumping him away from his comfort zones.

Over time, Hachimura can improve his ability to sustain scoring throughout games simply by becoming more versatile. The more consistent he becomes at making three-point shots and creating off the dribble, the more difficult it will be for teams to stop him. As long as he keeps improving, he will reach a point where he can stay ahead of the defense with a multitude of counters.

Developing a more reliable outside game and more dribble combinations will take some time. For now, Hachimura believes the key to him keeping up his scoring pace involves working with his teammates, particularly star shooting guard Bradley Beal.

"I just gotta connect more with Brad. Brad is the one everybody is trying to guard. Screens and pick-and-rolls with him, that kind of stuff will help me," Hachimura said.

Hachimura's game against the Cavaliers reflected how the team played overall. After scoring 41 points in the first quarter, they managed only 42 in the second half. They blew a 16-point lead and lost, 113-108.

So, he wasn't alone. And those rooting for Hachimura to round out his game should feel good about his odds. He has a relentless work ethic and is often staying after practice to go over film with player development coach Dave Adkins.

Hachimura is perceptive and driven to improve. In order to take the next step as a scorer, he will have to get better at closing games.

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