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Scott Brooks practices tough love in benching, calling out Moe Wagner

Scott Brooks practices tough love in benching, calling out Moe Wagner

WASHINGTON -- Wizards head coach Scott Brooks has shown some different traits this season, now that his primary goal is player development. He has been much more willing to both bench players within games and then afterward offer harsh assessments as to why.

Second-year big man Moe Wagner got that treatment on Sunday night in the Wizards' 135-119 loss to the L.A. Clippers. After starting the game and playing 14 minutes in the first half, he played three minutes in the second half.

And during his postgame press conference, Brooks didn't mince his words when offering an explanation.

"His head wasn't in the game," Brooks said. "When you're a young player, you've gotta lock in. You have to do what we need to be done. We talked about it. We talked about it at halftime and he didn't want to do it."

Brooks has employed a similar strategy with other young players. Both Troy Brown Jr. and Rui Hachimura have been benched and then criticized publicly, albeit to different degrees.

In the past, Brooks has stopped short of publicly calling out players, particularly veterans and stars. But clearly he sees this as a tactic that can help light a fire under young players who have not yet established themselves in the NBA.

Wagner, for one, didn't take issue with Brooks' assessment.

"He's not wrong," Wagner told NBC Sports Washington. "I didn't have the energy I usually have... I think that's the biggest thing when you're young, the consistent effort and the consistency of doing your job. It's easy to do it every other night, but you have to do it every night."

Wagner's numbers weren't awful on Sunday. He had seven points and six rebounds and was 2-for-2 from three. 

But he had some head-scratching moments on defense and seemed to flop looking for fouls at times when he may have been more impactful playing within the team's defensive system.

"[I need to] do the easy things right. Just do your simple job. Don't overdo it. Don't do crazy stuff out there," Wagner said.

Wagner, 22, is playing heavy rotation minutes for the first time. Last year with the Lakers, he only appeared in 43 games and averaged 10.4 minutes per night. He is learning on the fly how to find consistency at the NBA level.

The good news for Wagner is that Brooks doesn't have much of a choice whether to play him. With Thomas Bryant out for at least a few weeks due to injury, he is the best center on the roster. 

But Brooks dropped a line that should serve as a warning to Wagner, that nothing is guaranteed, even in the situation the Wizards are currently in.

"I don't believe in doghouses, I believe in a fair house. If he doesn't do what we need, we move on to the next guy," Brooks said. 

"Everybody deserves that opportunity that works hard every day in practice. Next man up. Hopefully he will come back and be locked in against the Hornets. And he will."

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If the players controlled All-Star voting, Bradley Beal would start in the All-Star Game

If the players controlled All-Star voting, Bradley Beal would start in the All-Star Game

On Thursday, the NBA announced it’s All-Star starters and based on the early fan voting returns, it was no surprise that Bradley Beal was snubbed from the list. 

Among Eastern Conference guards Beal was ranked ninth by fans and second by players.  

The starters are determined by voting amongst three groups. Fan votes make up 50 percent, current NBA players make up 25 percent and the media makeup is the remaining 25 percent. 

Beal sat down with Chris Haynes on Yahoo! Sports Posted Up and when asked about fan voting, Beal voiced his frustration, “Fan voting is absolutely horrendous man.” 

  

Beal went on to explain why he believes that fans should have a smaller percentage of the overall vote. 

 

“We respect fans and we love our fans you know but we also know there’s a lot of people out there who don’t know the game, we also know that there’s people who just have favorite players and don’t watch everybody else and we all know that there’s people who they’re going vote one guy because that’s their favorite guy, their favorite everything so I don’t have that. For me it’s an unfair in-advantage.”  

“Honestly, it should be on players and coaches,” Beal continued.

Although Beal missed out as a starter he still has a chance to be selected by coaches as a reserve. The reserves will be announced Thursday, January 30th. 

If we’re keeping it real the NBA should really reconsider the voting breakdown. 

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Wizards get one of their easiest wins of the season over Cavaliers

Wizards get one of their easiest wins of the season over Cavaliers

After a hard-fought overtime loss to the Heat Wednesday night, the Wizards had a quick turnaround matchup against the Cavaliers in Cleveland. 

Washington may have one of the worst records in the Eastern Conference, but on Thursday night they showed that they're clearly a tier above a team like the Cavs. 

It's rare to see the Wizards waltz their way into a win, so let's take a second to highlight the best moments from the game. 

Love resuscitates Beal

Bradley Beal was masterful for the second night in a row against the Cavs, scoring at will in the paint and hitting big shots when his team needed him.

Perhaps his best moment was taking a charge in the second half and then laying out on the floor like he just got run over by a truck. Then his pal Kevin Love came over to bring him back to life. 

Beal seems to really like laying flat on the floor after a big play, whether it's his or a ridiculous three-point frenzy from Davis Bertans. Either way, this was a funny moment between two players who've competed against each other in the East for a long time. 

McRae throws it down on Henson

Jordan McRae gets most of his buckets on the perimeter, so it's easy to forget that the man has some major bounce around the rim. 

 

He reminded us all on the fast break Thursday night, where he rose up and threw down a sweet one-handed jam before John Henson could even get his hand. 

McRae's been hyping all of his teammates up to make it to All-Star weekend whether it's the All-Star game, the three-point contest or the Rising Stars Challenge. 

Maybe it's time to get him to the dunk contest.

Osman's too small

If Beal knows you can't guard him, he'll let you know about it. And that's exactly what he did after he bullied Cedi Osman in the post during the fourth quarter. 

Osman's a fine player and the Cavs seem to like his upside. He just has no business guarding Beal one-on-one, which is why Beal scoring 36 points on 15-22 shooting isn't very surprising. 

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