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John Wall, Bradley Beal shine as Wizards top Knicks in preseason

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John Wall, Bradley Beal shine as Wizards top Knicks in preseason

The Washington Wizards beat the New York Knicks 104-100 in their second preseason game on Friday night at Capital One Arena.

How it happened: After making quick work of the Guangzhou Long-Lions, a Chinese Basketball Association import, in their first preseason game, Friday night offered the Wizards a chance to face an NBA team (yes, the Knicks count) for the first time in their exhibition schedule. Though they were without superstar Kristaps Porzingis (rest) and eighth overall pick Frank Ntilikina (knee), the Knicks gave the Wizards a fight with a group mostly comprised of journeyman veterans.

Head coach Scott Brooks tried many different lineups as he continues to explore his rotation with Markieff Morris due to miss several weeks of the regular season. Jason Smith started at power forward, but Mike Scott also saw plenty of time there. Brooks also went with a small-ball lineup with Kelly Oubre, Jr. and Otto Porter, Jr. on the court at the same time. After getting lots of run vs. the Long-Lions, Chris McCullough didn't see the floor in this one.

Even though they were missing their best players, the Knicks kept pace with the Wizards and only trailed by one point at halftime. Enes Kanter (16 points) and Tim Hardaway, Jr. (15 points) were tough to stop for the Wizards.

New York started to pull away in the third quarter with a double-digit lead before a series of threes by Oubre and Carrick Felix tied it up late in the frame. Sheldon Mac and Oubre helped push the Wizards to a win in the fourth quarter.

What it means: The Wizards don't appear to be close to picking a starter at power forward. Their defense remains a work in progress. Wall and Bradley Beal (13 points, 21 min.) looked like the best players on the court, per usual.

Wall's debut: Wall didn't show much rust at all for the most part. Early on he was getting to the rim at will, which was to be expected given the competition. There's a reason the Knicks took Ntilikina so high and without him they don't have much at the point guard position. Wall was getting by Jack and Sessions with ease. At one point Beasley was switched onto him and Wall blew right past him for a huge dunk.

Wall did, however, rack up an uncharacteristic amount of turnovers. There were a few times he just lost the ball in transition, a sign of him not yet being in regular season rhythm. Wall had three turnovers compared to just one assist in the first quarter. He ended up with five giveaways. In terms of scoring, Wall was very sharp. He finished with 19 points on 9-of-14 shooting in 23:43 of play.

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Scott a standout: Wall has spoken glowingly of Scott's ability to score, which may go overlooked when most think about the former UVa standout. Scott is known for his defense and toughness. But he had some smooth plays on offense, including a corner three assisted by Wall. Scott also had a fadeaway from the elbow that showed off his quick release. Scott will be doing a lot of the dirty work for the Wizards' bench, but he can definitely score some when needed. Scott had 12 points, four rebounds and three assists in 18:55. He shot 5-for-9 from the field.

Meeks provides a spark: Much like the first preseason game, Jodie Meeks could not be stopped as soon as he checked in. He knocked down his first three and finished 2-for-3 from long range. One of those was off a screen and he showed no hesitation. Meeks had eight points in 8:45, shooting 3-for-5 from the field. 

Roster competition: Donald Sloan didn't play in the game due to a thigh strain, but Mac was able to go despite jamming his thumb on Monday and missing practice time this week. Mac had some moments, including a nice layup on a fastbreak where he went three-quarters of the court off the dribble. He also found Oubre for a big slam midway through the fourth.

Carrick Felix had a nice strip of Doug McDermott, but missed a contested layup on the other end. He had five points in 11:36.

Up next: The Wizards host the defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday at 3:00 p.m., their last home preseason game. That will be on NBC Sports Washington. After that, the Wizards hit the road for two exhibition games before the regular season begins.

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

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USA Today Sports Images

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. 

 

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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?