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Finally healthy, Mike Scott continues to be the surprise of the Wizards' 2017-18 season

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Finally healthy, Mike Scott continues to be the surprise of the Wizards' 2017-18 season

Nothing about the 2017-18 season for the Washington Wizards so far has been more surprising than the emergence of Mike Scott, a six-year NBA veteran who through two months is on pace to have the best season of his NBA career after overcoming considerable odds to regain his form.

Scott continued to boost the Wizards with 22 points in a win against the Clippers on Friday night. That matched a season-high and his most since April of 2014. 

In his past six games, Scott has piled up 80 points on a ridiculous 34-for-43 (79 percent) from the field. Scott admits it's the best stretch of his career and he's even surprising himself.

"I honestly didn't think I'd be shooting or playing like this, either," he said.

No one can blame Scott for not expecting this. The chances of him reaching this point seemed slim just months ago.

Scott was once a rotation mainstay with the Atlanta Hawks after joining them as a 2012 second round pick out of the University of Virginia. By his third season Scott was an important bench piece for a 60-win team on one of the deepest rosters in the NBA.

[RELATED: WALL IS NO LONGER ALLOWED TO DUNK AT WIZARDS PRACTICES]

But then several events happened that threatened Scott's NBA career. He had a host of injuries to his left leg beginning in the 2014-15 season, including to his toe, ankle and knee. Scott had surgery to repair his left ankle in July of 2015 and afterwards had platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment to help it heal.

It was a long road back to this point, but now he's healthy and able to be himself on the court.

"My ankle's feeling great, my knee's feeling great, my leg is feeling great," he said, noting he's the healthiest he's been since 2014. "I was telling one of my friends [over the summer] that if I'm healthy, everything else will take care of itself."

Throughout his injury saga, matters were complicated by a felony drug arrest in July of 2015. That took two years to settle and it helped contribute to a down season in 2015-16 and the worst year of his career in 2016-17.

Though he beat the case, the potential of a decades-long prison sentence weighed on him. Meanwhile he spent time in the D-League, was traded to the Phoenix Suns and subsequently waived.

"I rested my body and sulked. The court stuff wasn't over yet," he said. "I just sulked and got down on myself."

Scott's weight ballooned to 268 pounds. Sensing his NBA career was in the balance, Scott turned to two men to help him get back on track; a basketball coach named Mark Edwards and a trainer who goes by the alias Mr. Shut Up and Train. His real name is Rahman Grayson and he's worked with other NBA players like Jaylen Brown.

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In Scott, Mr. Shut Up and Train - the nickname is too good not to use - has quite the success story. He helped Scott drop 30 pounds in a matter of months, just in time to work out for the Wizards and earn a veteran's minumum contract worth $1.7 million.

The deal was basically a lottery ticket for the Wizards. They knew the player Scott once was and needed help on their bench. It was low risk, but potentially high reward.

So far they are getting the latter. Scott is averaging 8.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and is shooting a career-best 57.2 percent from the field and 41.5 percent from three.

"He's great. He's a warrior," guard Bradley Beal said. "We played against him in the past and he hurt us in some ways, but we're happy to have him for sure."

Beal, though, has just one bone to pick. Back in 2015, Scott dunked on Beal in Atlanta and Beal still isn't quite over it. Now they have lockers close to each other in the Wizards' locker room.

"I was a fan of him, but I didn't like when he dunked on me a couple years ago. I gotta sit next to him and deal with it all the time," Beal said.

And on Friday night against L.A., Scott threw one down that caused flashbacks for Beal.

"Even tonight, the dunk he had, I said 'you've gotta get a new dunk' because that brings back some bad memories," Beal said.

Beal and the Wizards are just glad Scott is on their side now. Scott is reviving his career and it just happens to be with the team located not far from where he grew up in Chesapeake, Va.

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Rockets will finally trade Carmelo Anthony to Bulls, where they plan to cut him, per reports

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Rockets will finally trade Carmelo Anthony to Bulls, where they plan to cut him, per reports

The Houston Rockets will trade Carmelo Anthony to the Chicago Bulls, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

Anthony, a six-time All-NBA selection and 10-time All-Star, has not played for the Rockets since Nov. 8. Discontent between the two-sides in his first season with the team prevented Anthony from being a piece in a championship contending team. 

However, his tenure on the Bulls will be short lived. K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reports that Chicago will move on from one of the best scorers from the 2000s. Wojnarowski also later reported that the Bulls will cut Anthony.

Upon him getting cut by the Bulls, Anthony will become a free agent (again) if he clears waivers. Chicago at 11-38 is a team that appears to be tanking for the 2019 NBA Draft and look to be moving assets to prepare for a push this summer.

Before the Rockets refusal to play Anthony, he averaged 13.4 points on 40.5 percent shooting and 32.8 percent from deep in 10 games.

If Anthony is willing to take a pay cut, another playoff team could be looking to bolster their depth.

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Wizards blow out Detroit Pistons to gain important ground in East playoff race

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Wizards blow out Detroit Pistons to gain important ground in East playoff race

The Washington Wizards beat the Detroit Pistons 101-87 on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Here are five observations from the game...

1. If the Wizards can keep up their recent winning ways and remain in the playoff mix at the end of this season, what they did on Monday could come in handy either for seeding or making the postseason altogether. 

They knocked off the Detroit Pistons to move into ninth place in the East, one spot outside of the playoff picture, and tied the season series at 1-1. The season series between the teams, ever-important for tiebreaker scenarios, will come down to their final matchup of the season on Feb. 11.

If Monday's game was any longterm indication, the Wizards should feel good about their chances to outpace the Pistons. They were the better team, offering a thorough beatdown on both ends of the floor. It helped the Pistons were missing Andre Drummond, but the Wizards are down three key players themselves.

Those injuries just haven't held the Wizards back like many expected they would. The Wizards are now 7-3 since they learned John Wall would miss the rest of the season due to left heel surgery. They moved to 20-26 on the year, the closest they've been to the .500 mark since Dec. 16.

2. The Wizards' defense has been something else recently. Despite arguably being the worst defensive team in the NBA overall this season, they have completely flipped the script in recent games. They came into this one boasting the eighth-best defensive rating over their past nine games.

It continued early against the Pistons who, to be fair, are among the worst offensive teams in the game. The Wizards allowed only 34 points in the first half, the fewest they have surrendered in any half this season. The Pistons shot just 30 percent from the field and 2-for-15 from three and had nine turnovers in the first half. Detroits 87 points were the fewest the Wizards have given up in a game this season.

Those 34 points first-half broke the season-low the Wizards set just last game against the Knicks in London, where they gave up 37 points in the second half in their win. That means the Wizards gave up only 71 points across four quarters, the equivalent of a full game. 

The Wizards' defense has been on point in recent games. Now, let's see if they can do it against the Warriors on Thursday.

3. Any concerns about the Wizards losing momentum from the London trip were quickly put to rest. Seven players reached double figures and shot a solid 45.6 percent.

Tomas Satoransky (nine points, eight assists, two steals) appears to be taking another step as a ball-handler. He is way more assertive attacking the rim that we had seen in previous years. On several occasions in this game, he blew past defenders and finished with spin moves around the rim.

Otto Porter Jr. (19 points) is also playing with more confidence, now in an increased scoring role. On numerous plays in this game, he called for the ball, sensing a mismatch, often against Jose Calderon or Luke Kennard.

4. Wizards head coach Scott Brooks remarked at Sunday's practice that he has been pleasantly surprised with how Trevor Ariza can fill up the box score. He said he knew the guy could play defense but didn't know he was so well-rounded as a scorer and in other areas of the game. 

Monday was a perfect example of that. Ariza finished with 20 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and zero turnovers. He shot 7-for-13 from the field, 2-for-5 from three and 4-for-4 from the line.

He also, of course, was instrumental in the Wizards' strong defensive effort. He continues to make the impact the Wizards hoped for when they traded him as a tone-setting pest on the perimeter.

It may have taken a few games for that to reflect in the standings, and he needs to get his shooting percentages up, but he has clearly helped change the team's DNA defensively and is no slouch on the offensive end, either. He is averaging 14.7 points through 16 games with the Wizards, about three more per contest than he was with the Suns.

5. The Pistons playing without Drummond allowed the Wizards to find a lot of success on the boards. In their last meeting, they were out-rebounded by the Pistons, 46-31, but this time they won the rebounding margin, 45-to-40. 

The Wizards have been among the worst rebounding teams in basketball this season, but when they commit to the glass, they are tough to beat. They are now 11-0 in games where they out-rebound their opponents.

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