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Wizards gut out tough win vs. Timberwolves to snap losing streak

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Wizards gut out tough win vs. Timberwolves to snap losing streak

The Washington Wizards beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 92-89 on Tuesday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Gutsy win: The assumption when John Wall went down for two weeks with a left knee injury was that the Wizards would absolutely need Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and their starters to lead the way in order for them to win. On Tuesday night, much of the credit should go to the bench.

To be fair, Porter was the closer in their win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, a victory that snapped a two-game skid. Porter (22 points, eight rebounds) hit two big shots in the final minute to help seal the win, one a hook on the baseline and the second a jumper from about 20 feet out. But the Wizards' second unit came through with perhaps their best collective performance of the season. 

The Wizards were reeling in the first quarter when head coach Scott Brooks turned to the bench early looking for a spark. That's exactly what he got as Kelly Oubre, Jr., Jodie Meeks and Tomas Satoransky helped Washington claw back. After trailing by 11 points with just over a minute left in the first quarter, the Wizards took the lead at the 9:33 mark if the second on a Meeks three. The Wizards had 25 bench points in the first half and 49 for the game.

Satoransky did a nice job pushing the pace and distributing. He had six assists to go along with seven points and a steal. Ian Mahinmi had eight rebounds and was plus-18. He did a solid job guarding Karl-Anthony Towns, who had 20 points and 17 rebounds but missed shots in key moments in the fourth quarter. 

Meeks had 12 points in 17 minutes. Mike Scott caught fire in the second half to put in 12 points in 20 minutes with five rebounds and two steals. Oubre had 16 points and four rebounds. More on him in a moment. 

The Wizards' defense was excellent after the first quarter. The Wolves only scored 59 points in the final three frames and Andrew Wiggins, who had 11 points in the first half, managed only two in the second.

The Wizards are now 11-9 on the year and 2-2 without Wall this season.

[PODCAST: SATORANSKY ON HIS CAREER, BEING A CZECH CELEBRITY]

Beal struggled: This was Beal's worst game of the season so far, or at least the worst that he was not ejected from. He never found a rhythm and just didn't look like himself. Beal finished with eight points on 2-for-11 shooting. He had just four points in each half. Jimmy Butler was harrassing him all night and deserves some credit.

Early on there were a few shots for Beal that rolled in and out. Perhaps he got discouraged because the usual aggression just wasn't there. He only attempted one three, for instance.

Gortat and Morris M.I.A.: With Oubre, Mahinmi and Scott playing so well, Brooks kept starters Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris on the bench for the entire fourth quarter. Gortat started the game well and finished with nine points and seven rebounds. Morris was off all game and ended it with two points on 1-for-6 shooting. Morris has not been playing well lately, just 13 games back since returning from his injury absence.

Oubre keeps getting better: Oubre continues to make plays we didn't see from him just months ago. He grabbed a rebound and took it coast-to-coast for a layup. He drove baseline, spun to his left and finished. He hit a running floater in the lane with his right hand.

He even threw a pass behind his back on the fastbreak to set up a Mike Scott dunk:

Oubre's game continues to develop in a variety of ways. He's a better dribbler, passer and shooter than he was last season and he's making the Wizards' bench a much better unit.

Up next: The Wizards move on to Philadelphia for the second game of a back-to-back set and for their second matchup with the Sixers of the season. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

[RELATED: BEAL IS NOT A FAN OF NBA'S LAST TWO MINUTE REPORTS]

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: John Wall goes 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, celebrity softball and the Summer League

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: John Wall goes 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, celebrity softball and the Summer League

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, John Wall went 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, the celebrity softball game and the Summer League.

Chase Hughes and Chris Miller broke down the parallels between Wall and Harper and why Wall has chosen to stay loyal to Washington in his own contract decisions. Plus, can the Wizards really tone down the talking this season?

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Kawhi Leonard going to the Raptors may actually be good news for the Wizards and the East

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Kawhi Leonard going to the Raptors may actually be good news for the Wizards and the East

Through nearly three weeks of NBA free agency and almost a month of trades, the Eastern Conference had remained eerily quiet. The Wizards had arguably been the most aggressive team in the East, as all the biggest moves had occurred in the West and, most notably, LeBron James changed coasts.

That all changed on Wednesday as the Toronto Raptors pulled off a trade with the San Antonio Spurs to land Kawhi Leonard, a two-time defensive player of the year. The full deal includes All-NBA guard DeMar DeRozan going to San Antonio along with big man Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first round pick. The Raptors also get guard Danny Green, according to ESPN.

Here are some takeaways from the trade...

This is good, potentially great news for the Wizards

The worst-case scenario for the Wizards and most of the East would have been if Leonard got dealt to either the Sixers or Celtics, as the potential would have been there for a dominant team. The Sixers, in particular, could have conceivably traded for Leonard without giving up much in the way of pieces that can help them now. They would have teamed Leonard with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid and would probably be the favorites to reach the NBA Finals. Instead, the Sixers struck out and now face the prospect of taking a pretty big L on this offseason, given all the guys they were tied to going into it.

Leonard and the Raptors will be good and they may even be better than they were last season. Though the Raptors won 59 games in the regular season, they disappointed in the playoffs. Leonard could change that, but he won't have the help to make them an unstoppable force. Kyle Lowry is good, but he's an aging player and they don't have a third star, at least not yet. They have a lot of recent first round picks that could, in theory, make the leap.

This deal is good for the Wizards and could become great if Leonard leaves in free agency next summer. If he does, the Raptors will be in deep trouble.

What will the Lakers do?

When James signed with the Lakers, most assumed they would then add at least one star to run with him. But now that Leonard is going to Toronto, it's very possible they don't add one at all. James might actually have to play with Lonzo Ball in addition to Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee. Sure, they can sign Leonard next summer or find another star then, but this is shaping up as of now to be a lost year for James.

As consistitued, they aren't winning anything of substance. It's just so surprising James would be cool with this level of talent around him considering what he could have done this season if he signed with Philly or some other team.

People are looking at the wrong contract

Much of the instant reaction to the Leonard trade was praise for the Raptors in ridding themselves of DeRozan's deal. That's a headscratcher. DeRozan is set to make over $27 million in the next three years, the third being a player option, but he's an All-NBA player who turns 29 next month. In the context of NBA contracts, that isn't too bad.

Lowry's contract, on the other hand, is borderline awful. He's 32 with his numbers heading in the wrong direction and he's due to make $31 million next season and $33.3 million the year after. It's not like the Raptors freed themselves of their worst deal.

Masai is making moves

This is a risk for the Raptors and you have to respect it. Their general manager, Masai Ujiri, had seen enough of the DeRozan-Lowry duo falling short in the playoffs. He fired head coach Dwane Casey and pulled off a trade for Leonard, who at his best is one of the premier players in the NBA.

There is considerable risk in this move with Leonard having missed 73 games last season with a quadriceps injury and given the fact he can opt to test free agency next summer. If he really does want to join the Lakers, he could leave the Raptors empty-handed.

But it's a risk that is probably worth taking. Everyone assumed the same future for Paul George and he ended up staying in Oklahoma City. It's not a guarantee Leonard leaves and now the Raptors have a year to convince him to stay. Ujiri should get praise for this deal because it's bold and he did one of the hardest things a GM can do in finding a top-5 talent for his team.

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