Beard returns to DC as Mystics host Sparks

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Beard returns to DC as Mystics host Sparks

The matchup: If youre a team trying to snap a six-game losing streak like the Washington Mystics, facing a squad thats dropped three straight is not a bad way to go. Over the course of the season, the Los Angeles Sparks have not been a squad that is easily defeated. The Mystics know this first hand.Washington (5-22) hosts Los Angeles Friday night (7 p.m. Comcast SportsNet), which means the squad has a chance at revenge after suffering its worst defeat of the season on the Sparks home court. It also marks the return of Alana Beard, the franchises all-time leading scorer, to Washington after the four-time All-Star signed with Los Angeles (19-9) this offseason.Beard and other ex-Mystics and former DMVers were not exactly hospitable back on June 18 when they pounded the current Mystics 101-70. Washington committed 25 turnovers while Los Angeles shot 53.6 percent from the field and six players reach double figure scoring including Beards 10.Michelle Snow led the Mystics with 15 points in that game, but the aggressive centers minutes have dwindled as of late, playing a combined 11 minutes in Washingtons last two games.Owners of the worst record in the league, Washington hasn't lost seven straight games since dropping nine in a row August 13-30, 2011. After missing the entire 2010 and 2011 seasons with injuries, Beard has missed only one of Los Angeles 28 games this season. She leads the team in minutes played (31.7) while averaging 10.9 points, 3.4 assists and 1.7 steals.Last time out: For the fifth time this season and nine straight game overall, the Connecticut Sun eclipsed Washington 77-70 on Tuesday behind another dominant performance from center Tina Charles. Though Washington's leading scorer and rebounder Crystal Langhorne knocked down 10 of 14 shots and led the Mystics with 24 points and nine rebounds, Charles finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Her basket with 46 seconds remaining put the Sun ahead 73-70 after the Mystics closed the gap with an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter. Noelle Quinn and Shannon Bobbitt each scored 10 points off the bench for Washington.DMVWest: In addition to Beard, there are plenty of familiar names on the Los Angeles roster including former University of Maryland star Kristi Tolliver, who leads the high-scoring Sparks in points (18.2) and assists (4.9). The charismatic DeLisha Milton-Jones, a member of the Mystics from 2005-07, averages 9.8 points. Marissa Coleman, drafted by the Mystics in the first round of the 2009 and former teammate of Toliver and Langhornes at College Park, is averaging a career-low 3.2 points in her first season with the Sparks.
While the Mystics (69.6 points) are the only WNBA team averaging fewer than 70 points per game, Los Angeles ranks third overall with 82.8 points per game.

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How trade deadline decisions hint at Wizards' future Otto Porter plans

How trade deadline decisions hint at Wizards' future Otto Porter plans

The calls about Otto Porter came early and often during the trade deadline that passed earlier today, but they went unanswered by Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld. He plans on keeping the soon-to-be restricted free agent now that he has blossomed into an elite shooter who is a perfect fit for one the NBA’s best starting fives.

“We love Otto,” Grunfeld told CSNmidatlantic.com, before the Wizards departed for Fridays' game at the Philadelphia 76ers. “We love the way that he’s developed and how he’s come along. I think Otto fits in very well with what we’re trying to do. I said he’s part of our core and we want to keep him here.”

Porter didn’t enter his fourth NBA season as this hot of a commodity. But in his first season under coach Scott Brooks he has elevated every aspect of his game, averaging career-highs of 14.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, 53.4% overall shooting and an NBA-high 46.5% three-point shooting.

With John Wall and Bradley Beal having All-Star-caliber seasons, and Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat playing their best basketball since coming to D.C., Porter has stepped right in. He’s no longer the shy, shoulder-shrugging Mr. Nice Guy that he was when the Wizards drafted him No. 3 overall in 2013.

MORE WIZARDS: POWER RANKINGS -- POST DEADLINE OUTLOOK

Though he’s still a nice guy, he has more edge to his game and certainly a confidence that was absent in most of his first two seasons. Last season, Porter’s first as the starting small forward, he came on strong late after lingering in the low 30s on his shot from three.

Now it’s a well-oiled machine. When defense overcommit to Wall and Beal, Porter makes them pay. As a result of his explosion, so will the Wizards to keep him. Porter's emergence created an unexpected expense.

The move made by the Wizards to trade Andrew Nicholson’s $26 million salary, in addition to sacrificing a lottery-protected first-round pick to the Brooklyn Nets for Bojan Bogdanovic, was to create more cap room. They anticipate needing it to retain Porter, who earns $5.9 million this season.

The Wizards must make him a qualifying offer of 125% of that salary to retain the first right of refusal by making Porter restricted. Not making a qualifying offer would allow him to become unrestricted.

“He and John, Bradley, Keef and Marcin and all the rest of our players complement each other very well,” Grunfeld said. “We hope to have him here for a long time.”

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Bogdanovic was 'cheering' for trade to go through to join Wizards

Bogdanovic was 'cheering' for trade to go through to join Wizards

Bojan Bogdanovic couldn't control the joy he felt inside the moment he got word that the Wizards were trying to acquire him in a deal to save him from the nine-win Brooklyn Nets.

"It's a big jump for me. I hope I'm going to adjust well and I'm going to start to play well as soon as possible," said Bogdanovic, a 6-8 forward who is in the final year of his three-year deal and will become a restricted free agent this summer.

"I thought I was going to be traded. When I saw that Washington was interested in me I was cheering over there to be traded here because I know how they play right now. They need someone to score off the bench."

Bogadanovic averaged a career-high 14.2 points and shot 35.7% from three-point range with Brooklyn, starting 54 games. Otto Porter starts at his position in Washington.

"It's not going to be a big adjustment for me because also in Europe I started many times from the bench even when I was one of the best players on the team," Bogdanovich said before coming to the NBA in 2014. "Sometimes I like more to start from the bench so I can be more aggressive."

[RELATED: Why the Wizards traded for Bogdanovic]

The lineups that coach Scott Brooks can roll out now are much more diverse. If he wants to go to a super-small lineup, he can put John Wall, Bradley Beal, Bogdanovic, Porter and Markieff Morris on the floor. Or he can substitute Kelly Oubre in for his defense and not lose much versatility. Or Jason Smith can take Morris' spot. 

"What we were looking for is some more scoring, a little pop off the bench, and some more three-point shooting and we wanted to add some versatility," president Ernie Grunfeld told CSNmidatlantic.com after the deadline passed. "With Bojan, we get everything."

Wall liked the move for those reasons. 

"It was a cool trade, a good trade," Wall said. "He's not a guy that just needs the ball in hands."

So does Brooks.

"It's a great addition. He's not just a shooter. He can score the ball," Brooks said. "He has great size. He gets to the free-throw line at a decent clip. He makes them."

[RELATED: Wall sees Cousins through emotional trade]