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Natasha Cloud destroys LA Sparks moments after receiving WNBA Community Award

Natasha Cloud destroys LA Sparks moments after receiving WNBA Community Award

In a perfect world, the night a WNBA athlete is honored with the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award, she goes on to play one of her best games of the season, makes all but one of her shot attempts, sets her teammates up to succeed, all en route to blowing out one of the top teams in the league. 

If that’s the case, tonight was perfect for Washington Mystics guard, Natasha Cloud. 

Just a few hours after winning the WNBA’s Community leadership award, Cloud took to the hardwood to lead the dismantling of the Western Conference leading, Los Angeles Sparks. 

Cloud finished the night with 15 points on 85.7 percent shooting (6-7, 3-4 3P), while dishing out six assists, all in 25 minutes of play.

“She set the tone,” head coach Mike Thibault said. “She was terrific on both ends of the floor. Tash has struggled a bit with her shooting but got herself in a rhythm right away.” 

“This was the pressure that we wanted on ourselves when we said ‘run it back’,” Cloud said. “I’m proud of everyone because we stepped up tonight.”

After an uncharacteristic loss to the Chicago Sky last week, coach Thibault went back to basics with an emphasis on solid defensive play - so much so that he had the Stics walk through their defensive responsibilities just before their victory over the New York Liberty Sunday evening. 

“Coach got on us after Chicago,” Mystics’ forward Aerial Powers said. “Since then we turned it up - we made them feel us out there. No easy buckets, if they got one it was hard and contested.”

The squad doubled down on that defensive intensity Tuesday night as they held the Sparks to just 66 total points - their season average is 79.8. 

“This was one of best defensive performances of the season and that makes me happy because I’m a defensive player first,” Cloud said. “Everything is so much easier when we take care of the defensive end.”

A wise man once said “defense leads to offense,” (probably coach Thibault) and that was found to be true once again Tuesday night. 

The Stics posted 95 points on the board for the 11th time this season - the most by any team in the WNBA. 

Hall of Fame player and coach, Dawn Staley was in house tonight to cheer on Cloud as she received the Community award, and that meant a lot to the 27-year-old guard out of Philly.

“Super huge,” Cloud expressed with a grin from ear-to-ear. “Dawn is a legend. When I grew up I was watching her, whether it was in the WNBA or at Temple. It’s a huge honor, she’s one of my favorite players and coaches of all time.” 

“I love this community, I love this team, I’ve been here for five years. This will by far surpass anything I can do in my career.” 

The Stics tied their franchise-best of 22 victories in a season, with four more games remaining on the schedule. They’ve also claimed their eighth straight victory at home, captured the season series over the Sparks 2-1, and are one step closer postseason basketball - that’s when the phrase “run it back” will be put to the test.

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Report: NBA likely to use new All-Star format again, will discuss using it in G-League

Report: NBA likely to use new All-Star format again, will discuss using it in G-League

If you were a fan of the NBA's new format for the All-Star game, which featured a target score to decide the winner instead of a clock, you might be in luck. 

According to Zach Lowe of ESPN, the NBA is likely to use the target score format again in next year's All-Star game. The NBA's president of league operations Byron Spruell told Lowe it's a 'good assumption' we see this format again. 

In its maiden voyage, the target score was a smashing success. The NBA has struggled to make the All-Star game entertaining and intense enough for the best players in the world to try. By adding 24 points onto the leading team's score at the end of the third and saying, "First one to this number wins," it sparked the competitive fire in the league's biggest stars and made for an unforgettable basketball moment. 

The target score is very similar to the "Elam Ending," created by Ball State University professor Nick Elam. The Basketball Tournament, a winner-take-all event held over the summer, has used the Elam Ending for the last two years.

Chris Paul suggested using the format in the All-Star game to commissioner Adam Silver, and now the target score ending has a chance at making it to the G-League. 

Lowe also includes in the story that the NBA will discuss using the target score system in the G-League, the league's developmental league. However, concerns about making G-League play too different from play in the NBA make it unlikely for a full adaptation of the target score system. 

Spruell did say a possible first step would be using the system at the annual G-League Showcase, which usually takes place in December. 

To go even further down the rabbit hole of hypothetical changes to NBA games, the NBA will also reportedly discuss using target scores in the elimination rounds of a midseason tournament. In late December, the NBA propose massive schedule changes to the league's owners including shortening the regular season to 78 games and introducing a midseason tournament. 

The owners still have to approve the changes before any target scoring system can be implemented. 

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Wizards congratulate Marcin Gortat on retirement with tribute video

Wizards congratulate Marcin Gortat on retirement with tribute video

Following Marcin Gortat's retirement from basketball, the Wizards and Capitals made sure to congratulate him on wrapping up a 12-year career. 

Gortat spent five seasons with the Wizards from 2013-2018, averaging 11.6 points and 9.2 rebounds during his time in D.C. He was a reliable roll man f next to John Wall and helped lead the team to four straight playoff appearances. 

After spending a short time with the Clippers last season, The "Polish Hammer" decided to retire earlier this week. He did not play in the NBA this year. 

Could there be a Gortat appreciation night at Capital One Arena sometime soon? Wizards fans probably wouldn't oppose. 

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