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Three things to watch for Wizards vs. Knicks, Dwight Howard's second game of the season

Three things to watch for Wizards vs. Knicks, Dwight Howard's second game of the season

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Dwight Howard and the Washington Wizards take on Tim Hardaway Jr., Enes Kanter, Mitchell Robinson and the New York Knicks. Tipoff is at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

Here are three things to watch...

Opportunity to bounce back

The Wizards are reeling right now. They have lost five straight games and their defense has so far been historically inept. Their last three losses have been by double-digits, including on Friday when they were obliterated by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Wizards need to turn things around and on Sunday they will get a decent chance to do so. They are playing at home against the Knicks, who at 3-6 are one of the worst teams in the NBA. Their best player, Kristaps Porzingis, is hurt, which has left them average at best on both ends of the floor. 

The Wizards are clearly the more talented team on-paper, though that has not translated into wins for Washington as often as it should over the past two seasons. They should win this game and handily, but of course they will probably make it much more interesting than that.

In the Wizards' defense, they did take two of three against the Knicks last season, despite having major trouble against sub-.500 teams. And their only loss was when John Wall was hurt.

Game 2 for Howard

The Wizards were blown out by the Thunder on Friday despite the fact they were healthy for the first time all season. Starting center Dwight Howard returned from his piriformis muscle strain and played quite well, at least on the offensive end. He had 20 points in 23 minutes and shot 7-for-8 from the field.

Howard did all of that against Steven Adams, an above-average center. Against the Knicks, he will go up against Enes Kanter. Though not as good as Adams, Kanter is a talented player who is particularly good on the boards. That's an area Howard could improve upon from his debut when he only grabbed three rebounds.

In transition

Here is a stat to keep in mind for Sunday night's game. The Knicks are No. 1 in the NBA in fastbreak defense so far, allowing only 9.6 transition points per game. They have also scored the third-fewest fastbreak points themselves, just 8.9 per game.

The Wizards, on the other hand, are fifth in fastbreak points, despite Wall's early season struggles and their inability to finish defensive stops with rebounds. And, they are giving up the third-most fastbreak points of any team at 18.8 per contest.

The Knicks have been playing slow, while the Wizards have been playing fast. That holds true as measured by pace factor as well. The Wizards are eighth in the NBA at 104 possessions per 48 minutes, while the Knicks are 24th at 98.7. Who will budge?


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Anthony Davis trade to Lakers gives Silver Spring's Josh Hart fresh start with Pelicans

Anthony Davis trade to Lakers gives Silver Spring's Josh Hart fresh start with Pelicans

The Anthony Davis trade will have ripple effects across the NBA, not only on teams, but also on the players involved.

Josh Hart, who was traded from the Lakers to the Pelicans as part of the package for Davis on Saturday, could stand to benefit from the move.

First, here's a look at all of the assets reportedly swapped in the deal, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Now, where does the Silver Spring, Md., native figure in the proceedings?

Hart spent his first two NBA seasons with the Lakers. He averaged 7.9 points in 24.4 minutes per game in his two years in Los Angeles. 

Still, Hart was often the Lakers' third or fourth option at shooting guard behind starter Brandon Ingram and shared minutes with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Reggie Bullock and Lance Stephenson. 

LeBron James and the Lakers' win-now strategy left little room to develop Hart last season.

Now in New Orleans, he is part of a franchise rebuilding around presumptive No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson. The trade gave the Pelicans both a younger roster and a long enough timeline for success to develop players.

That can only be good news for Hart, giving him the chance to start fresh and impress Pelicans general manager David Griffin and head coach Alvin Gentry with his potential. 

Where the Sidwell Friends alum fits into the lineup depends on several factors.

At first glance, the new-look Pelicans could start Lonzo Ball at point guard, move Jrue Holiday to shooting guard, then complete the lineup with Ingram at small forward, Williamson at power forward and Julius Randle at center. 

If both Ingram and Holiday remain healthy, Hart would compete with Stanley Johnson to be the first wing off the bench for New Orleans.

But if Ingram does suffer recurring issues related to blood clots, Hart could press his case to start. 

The only issue complicating his place in New Orleans' plans is the No. 4 pick that was traded from the Lakers.

If the Pelicans keep that pick and draft a wing player like Jarrett Culver, Hart could find himself on the outside looking in again. 


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Pelicans reportedly trade Anthony Davis to the Lakers for a huge haul including Lonzo Ball

Pelicans reportedly trade Anthony Davis to the Lakers for a huge haul including Lonzo Ball

According to a report from ESPN NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski, the Los Angeles Lakers have acquired Pelicans' forward Anthony Davis in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and multiple first-round draft picks, including the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

The announcement comes less than 48 hours into the NBA offseason, although the rumors and speculation of the deal has been a prominent storyline for months.

The much-anticipated deal gives the Lakers the star they've been trying to pair with LeBron James for some time and gives the Pelicans a young nucleus to build around the presumptive No. 1 pick Zion Williamson. 

According to Marc Stein of The New York Times, the Boston Celtics refused to part ways with promising forward Jayson Tatum in a potential trade with New Orleans.

The Celtics had been in the mix for Davis, but with Kyrie Irving likely headed for the exits, Danny Ainge was unwilling to part with his young assets in exchange for the one year remaining on Davis' contract.

Before the Davis domino fell, NBC Sports Washington's Chase Hughes wrote about how a Davis trade could impact Bradley Beal's value

The Lakers, Knicks and Celtics all appear to want Davis and only one can get him, if he is even traded at all.

If the quest for Davis comes down to those three teams, there will be at least two that lose out.

The Knicks or Celtics now must determine whether trading for Beal is their next-best option behind Davis.