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Five observations from the Wizards' loss to the Toronto Raptors, including Bradley Beal's historic shot

Five observations from the Wizards' loss to the Toronto Raptors, including Bradley Beal's historic shot

The Washington Wizards lost 117-113 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night. Here are five observations from the game.

Rough start 

Those bad losses that defined the Wizards' fateful 2017-18 season, the ones against undermanned teams on what look going in like schedule losses; yeah, those are still a thing.

Through two games this season, the Wizards have suffered two of them. They fell to the Heat, who were down a host of rotation players and were playing on a back-to-back, in their opener. And on Saturday, they lost to the Raptors, who where missing Kawhi Leonard and Delon Wright and who had just played the Celtics the night before.

The Wizards may be without Dwight Howard, but it's hard to excuse those types of defeats. They are the ones that teams kick themselves for later in the season when playoff seeding is determined. They are the ones that keep teams from winning 50 games and reaching their full potential. Unfortunately, this all sounds too familiar.

The good news is that it's extremely early. The bad news is that the Wizards now head out on the road to play away games at the Blazers, who finished third in the West last year, and then the Warriors, who are gunning for their third straight championship. If they are to bounce back soon, it will have to be against one of the best teams in basketball.

Beal made history

Bradley Beal accomplished something on Saturday that was a long time coming. He entered the season just seven threes away from the Wizards/Bullets franchise record, and in the fourth quarter, he got there.

With his fifth three of the game, Beal knocked down his 869th career triple. That bests Gilbert Arenas, who hit 868 in a Wizards uniform. 

Beal, who is only 25, is only getting started. He's probably going to double that number, it's just a matter if all of them will come with the Wizards because he's got a long career ahead of him.

Speaking of threes, the Wizards took 39 of them. That tied a new franchise mark for three-point attempts in a game. They weren't joking about committing more to the long-ball this season.

Howard still out

The Wizards were without Howard once again due to his piriformis muscle strain, which has now been a storyline for going on a month. On Saturday, he got a lengthy workout in before the game, but didn't seem all that close to playing, despite the fact the Wizards insist he is a gametime decision.

Head coach Scott Brooks was asked before the game if Howard would definitely play on the upcoming five-game road trip and he stopped short of saying he would. That could be pure gamesmanship. He may be just keeping his opponents guessing. 

But if he does, say, miss Monday's game against the Blazers, it will become harder to believe that he's as close as the team keeps saying he is.

Howard's absence was felt once again on the glass. Much like in their first game, the Wizards were absolutely worked on the boards, this time to the tune of 52-to-37.

Howard will help their rebounding cause a lot when he comes back, but clearly the rest of the team has some issues there, at least early this season.

Brooks, by the way, was ejected in the third quarter. After Beal got a technical, Brooks charged towards halfcourt and got T'd up twice. It's not often we see Brooks get that hot.

Porter was more selfish early

There has been so much talk about Otto Porter Jr. needing to shoot more often that it's clear Brooks, John Wall and Porter himself are tired of being asked about it. Brooks has been resigned in recent days to some blunt honesty about it mostly being Porter's problem, that he needs to be more selfish in looking for his own shot.

The message apparently got across because Porter was much more assertive early against the Raptors. After shooting only seven field goals in the season opener on Thursday, he had seven by the end of the first half. And after not attempting a single three against the Heat, Porter had three shots from long range in the first four minutes.

The problem is that Porter then disappeared. He only had two shots in the second half and one was on a final heave at the buzzer. Porter had 11 points and one rebound. Not great.

Raptors are going to be a problem 

We knew the Raptors would be good and potentially even better this season with Leonard in the place of DeMar DeRozan. As good as DeRozan is, and he's very good, Leonard is even better.

What many may be sleeping on is the potential of the rest of their roster. Danny Green was a nice pickup in the Leonard trade and they have a host of young guys who continue to get better. O.G. Anunoby is a rare athlete who already makes a big impact on defense and has an improving feel for the game on offense. 

Fred Van Vleet, now with a new contract, can change games with his quickness and smarts. Already a force on defense, Pascal Siakam is starting to develop some clever offensive moves. 

Siakam had one play in the fourth quarter that was particularly surprising. He got the ball in the slot, drove to his left and threw down a two-handed, and-1 posterdunk.

The Raptors may be deeper than they were last year because they have so many young players on the rise and they were one of the deepest teams in basketball in 2017-18.

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Wizards waive three, sign 2017 first-rounder Anzejs Pasecniks

Wizards waive three, sign 2017 first-rounder Anzejs Pasecniks

As the NBA regular season approaches, the Washington Wizards seek to finalize their roster.

The Wizards announced on Wednesday that they have waived Phil Booth, Justin Anderson and Jemerrio Jones. The team also signed 2017 first-rounder Anzejs Pasecniks and small forward Jalen Jones, the team announced.

Pasecniks and Jones were signed to Exhibit 10 contracts, meaning that if they are waived, they will have the opportunity to play for the Go-Go, the Wizards' G-League affiliate. Booth was on an Exhibit 10 deal, so he will report to the Go-Go after being waived.

Pasecniks, a 7-foot center from Latvia, was the 25th overall selection from the 2017 draft. The Orlando Magic drafted him and moved him to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for draft picks. The 76ers renounced his rights in June.

Pasecniks played on the Wizards summer league team, averaging 4.0 points and 5.3 rebounds. Jalen Jones has averaged 4.8 points and 2.3 rebounds while shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc in 32 games over two seasons with three teams.

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John Wall embracing role as assistant coach during injury rehab

John Wall embracing role as assistant coach during injury rehab

WASHINGTON -- John Wall has already made enough money during his basketball career to last a lifetime and his new supermax contract worth $170 million is just kicking in. When he is done playing in the NBA, he doesn't have to do anything at all if he doesn't want to.

But there is at least a small part of Wall that believes coaching could be in his future. He loves the game enough to not rule out the possibility.

This year will give him a taste of what being a coach is all about. While he rehabs his ruptured left Achilles, he will serve as an unofficial assistant to head coach Scott Brooks. Wall will be asked to break down film with players, advise on plays to run and help the team's young point guards in practice.

Wall isn't sure as of today whether he wants to coach when his playing days are over. But he may have an answer in just a few months.

"I think this year will tell me whether I can be a coach or not," Wall told NBC Sports Washington on the Wizards Talk podcast. 

"I think you have to have a lot of patience and you've gotta know how to interact with every player. Every player's attitudes and character and mood swings are totally different. I learned from when a coach tried to coach me when I was young and I wasn't the guy to coach."

Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard envisions Wall as an important part of the locker room, even when he isn't playing. Part of his role may include some tough conversations with players. As Sheppard says, Wall may be able to deliver some messages that resonate more from a peer than if they came from a coach. 

Wall knows he can help in that regard. He has long been a vocal presence for the Wizards and had to assume the role as a team leader at an early age. After coming in as the No. 1 overall pick, he was a franchise player from the time he was 19 years old.

Wall's personality may also lend itself to those duties. He is very honest, whether it be with teammates or the media. 

"I like to speak my mind," he said. "It's like my momma always told me, 'I'd rather you speak your mind and say what you want to say, but say it in a respectful manner and a respectful way.'"

Wall, in fact, has a detailed philosophy on being honest. He doesn't like to lie whether it's in a media setting, to teammates or in everyday life.

It's not quite a Jim Carrey in 'Liar, Liar' deal, but Wall sees no point in beating around the bush. If he has something to say to a teammate or the media, he will say it.

"I don't know how to not give you the truth," he said. "What I've learned is that when you lie, you've gotta remember that lie exactly the way you said it for the next 12 people you tell it to. So, why make it that tough?"

Wall is set to miss at least the first few months of the Wizards' 2019-20 season and he could be sidelined the entire year. He said he hopes to have a similar impact that Kristi Tolliver did with the Mystics this past season where she remained active as a veteran leader in the locker room despite not being able to help the team on the floor for weeks due to a knee injury.

Missing so much time due to injury is not the ideal situation for Wall, but he plans to make the most of it.

"It will make my game a lot smarter and better for when I come back," he said.

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