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Wizards mount biggest comeback of NBA season so far to beat Knicks

Wizards mount biggest comeback of NBA season so far to beat Knicks

The Washington Wizards beat the New York Knicks 118-113 on Wednesday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Major comeback: For two quarters on Wednesday night it looked like the Wizards had already checked out for the All-Star break with one eye on their respective planned vacations. At halftime they trailed by 21 points to a New York Knicks team that entered the matchup having lost 20 of their previous 26 games.

But the Wizards didn't let up, they didn't stop fighting with a long break just two quarters away. No, they mounted the biggest comeback in the 2017-18 NBA season so far.

The Wizards roared back from down 27 points to snatch a victory from the Knicks and enter the All-Star break having won seven of their last nine games since John Wall got injured. Since Wall went down, the Wizards have shown exceptional resolve and this win was a great example of that.

Bradley Beal was the key to all of it with 36 points, seven assists, five rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Ian Mahinmi also had a huge night with a season-high 17 points off the bench to go along with eight rebounds and three blocks. Tomas Satoransky was pivotal with a career-high 11 assists and three blocks.

The Wizards enter the break 33-24, a 47-win pace. They will take that given all that went down in the first half of the season. 

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Big third quarter: The Wizards must have heard some halftime speech - or rant - from head coach Scott Brooks because a different team emerged in the third quarter. After allowing 72 points through the first two frames, the Wizards outscored the Knicks 39-15 in the third.

Beal led the charge with 12 points in the third quarter. Markieff Morris had nine of his 13 points and four rebounds. Marcin Gortat had six points and five rebounds in the third.

Some of the third quarter numbers are just absurd. The Wizards shot 81 percent from the field compared to just 20.8 percent for the Knicks. The Wizards outrebounded New York 19-2 in the frame.

The Wizards were a sleeping giant on Wednesday and once the Knicks woke them up, it was Washington's game to lose.

Hardaway was a problem: The biggest reason why the Wizards went down so big in the first half is because they had no answers for Knicks guard Tim Hardaway, Jr. He is the team's leading scorer with Kristaps Porzingis now done for the season and, man, was he good in this one.

Hardaway was on fire from the opening tip with 17 points in the first quarter and 32 by halftime on 12-for-14 from the field and 5-for-6 from three. Beal guarded him for much of the first half, but he was getting killed on pick-and-rolls as the Wizards team defense continued to break down. Even when they were all over him, he knocked down shots through tight windows.

The Wizards finally had some success against him in the second half. They held him to 2-for-10 from the field and just five points. Still, he finished one short of a career-high with 37 points on the night.

Their defense on Hardaway in the first half was a disaster, but they deserve credit for ultimately figuring him out. If they didn't, they would have had no chance of winning this one.

Injuries are mounting: The Wizards were not playing at anything close to full strength. Already without Wall, they were also missing backup point guard Tim Frazier, who is sidelined following the nasal fracture surgery he had on Sunday. That left Washington with one healthy point guard.

The Wizards were also without Jason Smith, who was sick. It was so dire they called up their two-way rookie Devin Robinson just because they needed players. Still, they had enough to win.

Beal made history: Beal became the youngest player in NBA history to reach 800 career threes with his second make from long range on Wednesday night. It came at a good time as Beal is set for the All-Star three-point competition on Saturday night. He continues to establish himself as one of the best three-point shooters of this generation and a three-point contest crown would look nice on his résumé.

Up next: The Wizards are off for a while for the All-Star break. They don't play for the next seven days before returning to action on Thursday, Feb. 22 at the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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Report: NBA standings in return to be determined by winning percentage

Report: NBA standings in return to be determined by winning percentage

Details about the NBA's return-to-play plan continue to emerge since the league approved its return date on Thursday. The latest is that the teams will be ordered in the standings based on winning percentage, according to a report by ESPN's Tim Bontemps.

Because some teams had played more games than others when the season was put on hold -- teams played anywhere from 63 to 67 games -- that imbalance will remain once the 22 participating teams complete the eight "seeding games" implemented into the return plan. Once those games are played, winning percentage will be used to determine which eight teams from each conference make the playoffs -- instead of games above .500.

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Additionally, ties in the standings will be broken using the league's typical tie-breaking procedures, according to the report.

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There is a small chance the Wizards could finish tied with the Brooklyn Nets after the seeding games. This would require the Wizards to win six more games than the Nets over the eight-game span. The Wizards beat the Nets in their previous two matchups this season.

NBA teams were informed of these decsions in a memo on Friday night, one day after the league's board of governors voted to approve the return-to-play plan. The NBA is set to return July 31 at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.

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How Bradley Beal can solidify an All-NBA spot in the restarted NBA season

How Bradley Beal can solidify an All-NBA spot in the restarted NBA season

With the NBA season set to resume at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, its time for some players to solidify their season-long dominance and make cases for end of the year awards. 

Memphis Grizzlies' point guard Ja Morant will be looking to cement his case for Rookie of the Year over New Orleans Pelicans' forward Zion Williamson. 

Los Angeles Lakers point forward, LeBron James will continue to make a run for MVP, while before the season's suspension it was Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo's to lose.

And then there's Bradley Beal. One of only two players in the NBA averaging 30-plus points per game (James Harden - Houston Rockets). Beal, who was the most notable All-Star snub of the 2019-2020 NBA season (arguably the biggest in NBA history), suddenly has a chance to show the ignorant just how elite of a player he is.

" [Bradley] Beal didn't make the All-Star team but he has a great chance of making an All-NBA team," former Wizard Drew Gooden said on the latest episode of the Wizards Talk podcast.

"Even if this season was completely over, he's on my list as a top-15 player this season."

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"Beal already this season had the highest scoring average ever at the break for a player not named an All-Star. He has a chance to do essentially the same with All-NBA," NBC Sports Washington's Chase Hughes said back in March.

"Beal's season scoring average of 30.5 points per game is not far off from the record for a non-All-NBA player. That record belongs to former Bullet Walt Bellamy, who put up 31.6 points per game in 1961-62 and was left off the list."

Bellamy's Packers missed the postseason that year with an 18-62 record. Just imagine what making the postseason would do for Beal's All-NBA case -- especially under this new format, after 146 days of no basketball.

All-NBA aspirations aren't farfetched at all, we should be talking MVP. Just ask NBC Sports Tom Haberstroh. 

"He's one of the best players in the NBA," Haberstroh said. "In normal seasons without [Giannis] Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic and [James] Harden playing incredible basketball, this guy would be an MVP candidate."

"He's an efficient and electric scorer. He takes it to the rack and he gets his teammates involved," Haberstroh continued. 

"More people, not just in D.C. need to be paying attention to a star in Bradley Beal."

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