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Dwyane Wade turns back the clock, Heat torch Wizards

Dwyane Wade turns back the clock, Heat torch Wizards

The Washington Wizards lost to the Miami Heat 113-108 on Saturday night. Here are five observations from the game...

1. March Madness entered Capital One Arena Saturday night, but had nothing to do with the NCAA Tournament.

The Dwyane Wade farewell tour made a stop in Washington for the final time in his illustrious, 16-season career. The Heat legend announced his retirement before the season tipped, meaning fans had all year to plan for a final sendoff. They came out in droves for the 2006 NBA Finals MVP – and left more than satisfied thanks to their hero’s performance and the Wizards' missed opportunities late.

Wade scored a team-high 20 points with nine rebounds, five assists and two three-pointers. Miami entered the fourth quarter trailing 79-78, but led for the final 10:23 and fended off every Wizards push, with Wade fronting the action.

He scored 11 points in the fourth with a stretch of nine consecutive for the Heat. Wade’s pull-up jumper capped the personal run and put Miami up 104-99 with 4:12 remaining. The Heat scored the next five points as the margin reached 10 and the pro-Wade crowd swooned, but the Wizards still had a chance to tie inside the final minute.

Tomas Satoransky produced in the fourth, but missed a game-tying three-pointer with 26.3 seconds left. Following a timeout, Wizards nemesis Kelly Olynyk dunked on the subsequent possession.

The loss dropped the Wizards (30-44) 6 1/2 games back of the Heat (36-37) for the eight playoff spot in the East with eight games remaining in the regular season.

2. Jeff Green sizzled off the bench for the Wizards with 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting. Bradley Beal scored 16 points, while Satoransky veered into triple-double territory with 12 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Washington outrebounded Miami 53-44, but shot 42.7 percent from the field compared to the Heat’s 50 percent. 

3. Thomas Bryant had 17 points and 11 rebounds while Bobby Portis finished with 14 and 11. The duo started together for a second consecutive game, giving the Wizards a big man tandem and perhaps a preview of their starting power forward and center next season.

That’s why some wondered why Brooks didn’t use them together for more than a literal handful of minutes before Thursday’s game. At the very least, this closing stretch offers Brooks and the organization a chance at the pairing with two 2019 restricted free agents.

“We gotta experiment and see different lineups and see how they do,” Brooks said Thursday. “Obviously, we’ve got decisions to make.”

Curiously, Brooks pushed back on the idea of any experimentation with the 2019-20 season in mind before Saturday’s game when asked about Bryant-Portis, even after a reporter mentioned Thursday’s comments.

"I haven't even thought about that,” Brooks said pre-game Saturday. “I'm not looking at it as an experiment. I'm looking at it (as) we're changing the lineup and making some adjustments and see how they play. I played them a little bit together. But it gives us a bigger lineup. None of this is going down as, 'Ok, if it doesn't work' — we all know that guys are free agents, but we still have nine games to play and going out every game and competing. And we have. It's just every game has gone down to the wire, except the one. I anticipate our guys are going to continue to fight. But the experiment, I'm not looking at it as an experiment. I'm looking at it as those guys continue to improve, they're young players and TB is 21 and BP is 24. They're getting starting minutes and it's a great opportunity for them to get better." 

Whatever the rationale, using Bryant and Portis together strictly to evaluate makes sense. Both can pop from outside, are decently athletic and can rebound. Defensive limitations are apparent, but shouldn’t be a disqualifier when debating contracts this summer.  The more intel on the matter, the better.

4. The Wizards played without Trevor Ariza (groin strain) for a second consecutive game, meaning another start for rookie guard Troy Brown Jr.

The only starter not to reach double figures, Brown had seven points on 2-of-9 shooting. Experience is the key at this point, and Brown is receiving plenty now. His 25 minutes is the most important stat, though making a few shots wouldn’t hurt.

5. There’s often a question in Miami about the level of game-to-game interest from the fan base. The Heat backers showed up in force Saturday night in Chinatown. No doubt, there was crossover interest with Wade’s final regular season game in Washington. The entire building cheered when the future Hall of Famer entered for the first time midway through the first quarter. Hopefully no Wizards’ fans were part of a “Let’s go Heat” chant late in the second. More roars followed throughout, including on a dunk from the 37-year-old in the third.

Respect came from all angles in the fourth, including Wizards ownership.

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Mike Scott is wearing your rival's hockey jersey, explained

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Mike Scott is wearing your rival's hockey jersey, explained

Former Wizards forward Mike Scott loves an NHL jersey. It's a pretty well-known thing on the internet. But with the NHL Playoffs heating up, fans are getting really mad that Scott is wading into "The Drake Curse" waters.

And they're taking it personally.

But the reality of it all: the dude just really likes hockey jerseys. 

Scott told reporters that he owns approximately 170 (!!!) custom made NHL jerseys. The NBA star ditched the classic suit and now exclusively wears a hockey jersey as part of his pre-game regimen. 

Scott even goes as far to paint them with his own creativity, adding funny catchphrases, made up words or song lyrics in place of a last name on the back.

And the list goes on.

So is your anger at Scott justified? Absolutely not.

And neither is referring to him as "worse than The Drake Curse" (as many Twitter users so graciously have). Because unlike Scott, bandwagoner Drake is actually cursed.

The Canadian-born music artist flew home after the Maple Leafs entered playoff territory. And what happened? The rapper brought bad luck to his own people, and Toronto fell 6-4 to the Boston Bruins. 

But Scott is different: he isn't pledging his allegiance to any team or even being a bandwagon fan for that matter. This guy's version of a sweater collection just lays in NHL jerseys. And he doesn't care who knows it. 

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Wizards 2018-19 end of season grades: Bradley Beal

Wizards 2018-19 end of season grades: Bradley Beal

Now that the dust has settled for the 2018-19 Wizards season, it's time to review the roster and hand out individual grades...

Who: Bradley Beal, shooting guard

2018-19 stats: 36.9 mpg, 25.6 ppg, 5.5 apg, 5.0 rpg, 1.5 spg, 0.7 bpg, 2.7 tov, 47.5 FG%, 35.1 3P% (2.5/7.3), 54.0 eFG%, 80.8 FT% (4.4/5.5), 113 ortg, 114 drtg

Best game: 1/13 vs. Raptors - 43 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds, three steals, two blocks, 6-12 3PT

Grade: A+

Season review: One could argue that nobody deserves a higher grade in the Wizards organization for their 2018-19 season than Bradley Beal, who had by far the best individual year of any player on the team. He had high expectations coming into the season and exceeded them, taking the next step from an All-Star to a legitimate All-NBA candidate.

Beal also continued to represent the organization well in public. He spoke for the team after many difficult losses with poise and maturity. And he brought positive attention to the franchise for his charitable efforts, recently being named as a finalist for the league's community assist award.

Beal's on-court performance was a shining light amid a disastrous season overall for the team. He set career-highs in scoring, rebounds, assists, steals and free throw attempts. He played in all 82 games for the second straight season and never complained despite leading the NBA in minutes.

The most impressive part of Beal's season may be how he responded when John Wall went down due to injury. Wall last played on Dec. 26 and in the next 47 games, Beal averaged 27.2 points, 6.0 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 1.8 steals. 

Beal's final numbers put him in elite company. He became the first 25-5-5 player in Wizards/Bullets franchise history. He was one of only six players to reach that mark this season, a list that includes Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, James Harden, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry.

Even as the season was winding down and the Wizards were well out of playoff contention, Beal gave an honest and consistent effort. That stood out in a year in which some of his teammates did not play hard and were called out by head coach Scott Brooks and team leaders for doing so. 

Now Beal, of course, had many reasons to keep giving 100 percent. With the numbers he has put up, he could make All-NBA in late May and, if he does, will qualify for a supermax contract. That could mean tens of millions more on his next deal, if he chooses to sign back with the Wizards.

As Beal looks ahead to this summer and next season, another question is how much better he can become. He took a significant step from the All-Star year he had in 2017-18. What if he makes another, similar leap?

Beal upped his scoring average by three points year-over-year. Another jump like that could put him in the MVP conversation, depending on how the Wizards finish in the standings.

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