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Wizards smash Nets on road to break four-game losing streak

Wizards smash Nets on road to break four-game losing streak

The Washington Wizards beat the Brooklyn Nets 125-116 on Wednesday night. Here are five observations from the game...

1. The Wizards may be the most enigmatic team in the NBA this season. They have taken on so many forms throughout the year that predicting their results is a fool's errand.

Wednesday's win over the Nets was a perfect, mercurial microcosm. They went down 10-0 early, forcing a Scott Brooks timeout. Then, somehow, they rallied to hand a beatdown to a legitimate playoff team in the Eastern Conference.

Brooklyn also happens to give them trouble. The Wizards had lost four of their last six against the Nets and three straight on the road. 

The Wizards got just their fourth win in their last 16 games. They snapped a four-game losing streak. Just when they appeared to be veering towards rock bottom, Washington responded with an impressive win against a good team.

2. There may be something to this Thomas Bryant on the bench thing. For the second straight game, he responded to his demotion with a huge outing to lead the Wizards' second unit.

Bryant erupted for 14 points in his first eight minutes and finished with 18 points and five rebounds for the game. Ed Davis and the Nets' bench were no match for him.

When Brooks first put Bryant in the starting lineup back in November, he was hoping to give that unit a spark, and it worked. Bryant has done the same thing for the bench.

After the Wizards went down 10 points in the first quarter, Bryant helped the bench flip the game around. There is no secret he provides a boost of energy. Though that has been nice for the Wizards to have off the opening tip, it can be very helpful off the bench and especially after a slow start.

3. This was one of Trevor Ariza's best games of the season. He had 23 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block.

Ariza had a stretch in the third quarter where he was making plays over and over on both ends of the floor. He had nine points in a span of one minute and 28 seconds.

Ariza set the tone defensively and was scoring in a variety of ways on the offensive end. 

4. Ariza helped the cause as the Wizards did an excellent job of cashing Nets turnovers into points on the other end. 

Brooklyn had 16 turnovers, and the Wizards converted those into 29 points. Over and over they had players break loose in the open court for fastbreak dunks.

The Wizards are second in the NBA in deflections and forcing turnovers, yet they are a mediocre 13th in fastbreak points. They don't do as good of a job as they could at making teams pay for their mistakes. In this game, that wasn't the case.

5. Troy Brown Jr. got some first half minutes in this one and played well. He knocked down a three and a stepback jumper soon after entering and had five points and three rebounds by halftime.

It was one of those spurts that brought a lot of fans saying "I told you so" on social media, as many have been advocating for him to play more. Especially with where the Wizards are in the standings, it seems like a no-brainer.

Brown, though, made some rookie mistakes. He bit on a pump-fake by Shabazz Napier and sent him to the line for three shots. It will take time for him to learn from those miscues, but the only way to do that is by playing.


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Tom Haberstroh: 'I just don't know if the timing is right' for Masai Ujiri to join Wizards

Tom Haberstroh: 'I just don't know if the timing is right' for Masai Ujiri to join Wizards

As soon as the clock hit zero in Game 6 of the NBA Finals and cemented the Toronto Raptors as the 2019 NBA Champions, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that the Wizards were preparing to make a lucrative offer to Toronto GM Masai Ujiri. 

NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig confirmed that Washington was prepared to give the Raptors top front office executive a deal that would be hard to refuse.

The rumored interest in Ujiri became the topic of the most recent Wizards Talk Podcast discussion, and Monday, NBC Sports NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh spoke on the potential pairing. 

"If you're Ted Leonsis and the ownership in D.C., you're hoping that the Raptors are out [of the playoffs] early so you can start the talks and you can try to lure Masai Ujiri over a few days or a week but they dont have that time before Thursday's draft," Haberstroh said.

"I just don't know if the timing is right for Masai to make such a huge decision in his career in the next couple of days."

Ted Leonsis' offer isn't the only factor trying to bring Ujiri to the nation's capital. The Raptors' executive has a relationship with former President Barack Obama, which could weight in the Wizards favor, and Ujiri's wife, Ramatu, attended high school in the D.C. area as well.

"If he takes this job, it is not about the basketball reasons, its all about the off-court reasons, whether it's Barack Obama recruiting him, or it's his wife who is from the area," Haberstroh added.

While Wizards fan would welcome Ujiri to Washington with open arms and hope that he is the missing piece to set the franchise in the right direction, Haberstroh isn't sure that Ujiri bolts from Toronto so soon.

"I just don't know if the timing is right for Masai Ujiri to leave a champion in Toronto," Haberstroh said.


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'Sincere interest': Latest on Pelicans exploring trade for Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal

'Sincere interest': Latest on Pelicans exploring trade for Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal

While the Washington Wizards struggled defensively last season, the organization is holding firm when it comes to rebuffing offers for Bradley Beal.

The New Orleans Pelicans showed sincere interest in the two-time All-Star before Saturday’s blockbuster that sent Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers. That curiosity remains and the two sides broadly discussed a trade scenario involving Beal, multiple sources told NBC Sports Washington.

The Pelicans are open to dealing the newly acquired fourth overall selection in Thursday’s NBA Draft according to numerous reports. New Orleans also landed three young players from Los Angeles -- Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart -- plus additional future picks and pick swaps.

Whatever the initial parameters, the conversation never veered close to actual negotiations, according to a source.

The basis for trading Beal centers on maximizing his asset value with two years and $56 million remaining on his original five-year contract signed in 2016. Washington likely struggles next season with fellow guard John Wall out and an evolving roster that currently has only five players with guaranteed contracts.

This one rejection does not mean Washington has completely shut the door on future talks with teams. However, the sense from league sources is the team plans on keeping Beal despite ample interest from contenders.

Beal, who turns 26 this month, just completed a near All-NBA season in which he and MVP candidate James Harden were the only players to average 25 points, five rebounds, five assists and 1.5 steals per game. The ascending talent is the lone healthy starter on the roster with Wall sidelined until 2020 with a torn Achilles.