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5 must-see moments from Wizards' win over Pacers

5 must-see moments from Wizards' win over Pacers

Here are five plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 111-98 win over the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night that are worth revisiting...

1. The Wizards came out on fire once again with 34 points in the first quarter. It was another strong start for John Wall who had five assists in the frame. That's the fourth straight game Wall has had five or more dimes in the first quarter and the 19th time this season overall he's hit that mark.

One of Wall's assist was on a pick-and-roll that ended with this powerful Marcin Gortat dunk:

2. The star of the first quarter, though, was not Wall or Gortat. It was Otto Porter, who hit five threes, including four on four attempts in the first five minutes. 

His fifth three came at the buzzer and Porter had to ignore a shot clock malfunction to hit the shot:

Porter finished with six threes to tie a career-high and a game-high 25 points.

3. Bradley Beal had 19 points on 7-for-14 shooting. Two of his points came on this steal and dunk:

Did you catch that smile Beal flashed while hanging on the rim? Here's another look:

4. Porter made most of his money on threes on Thursday night, but his best shot was this circus layup on an and-1. It was absolutely ridiculous:

5. Wall had 20 points, 12 assists and also two blocks, including this one late in the fourth quarter on Rodney Stuckey. Markieff Morris first turned the ball over and Wall bailed him out with this chasedown swat:

Speaking of Wall, here is an honorable mention. Earlier in the game, Wall scored an and-1 over his former Wizards teammate Kevin Seraphin:

Seraphin had quite the facial expression when he watched Wall point to his bicep as he walked past him:

All of those plays were great, but this was the moment of the night. Right after the game ended, Wall found two young Wizards fans in the crowd and gave them his jersey.

First, here's the kids dancing on camera:

And here is Wall giving them the jersey:

That's great stuff.

[RELATED: Should Beal have been an All-Star over Carmelo?]

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Continuity was key in Wizards' decision to retain Otto Porter

Continuity was key in Wizards' decision to retain Otto Porter

One of the prevailing themes from the Wizards' press conference to announce Otto Porter's new contract last week was the simple fact the Wizards really like what they already have, enough so that making major roster changes did not seem wise. By bringing Porter back, they maintain an element of continuity which they collectively see as pivotal to success.

Majority owner Ted Leonsis referenced continuity often during the press conference and afterwards in his off-camera meeting with the media. With Porter under contract for four more years, plus the deals already signed by John Wall and Bradley Beal, the Wizards have ensured that trio will have played together for eight years by the end of the 2020-21 season. That's a long time in professional sports.

"The data points are, for the most part, the teams whose core has stayed together have good results," he said. "The hodgepodge grabbing of players, throwing free agents in and expecting them to get it and fit, that hasn’t been the case. So, you try to be guided by data and continuity works. You look at the best team in the league, [the Golden State Warriors], their core has been there for a long time. They were able to bring in a free agent [in Kevin Durant]. We have tried to bring in free agents and we’re not going to stop. We have to manage things well, but I still think we can improve our team."

[RELATED: Otto Porter sees Wall and Beal as examples to follow]

The Wizards aren't the first team Leonsis has owned or business he has run and says the same concepts apply to other ventures he has been successful with in the past. That includes the Washington Capitals, who have a proven formula for the regular season. Three times in the last eight years they have won the Presidents' Trophy for the best record in the NHL.

Leonsis believes keeping the same players together has had major benefits in chemistry.

"What I’ve learned is that a lot of times it’s better the devil that you know than the devil that you don’t," Leonsis said of retaining players a team drafted. "You get to see how they practice. You get to see who they hang out. You get to see their commitment to their health. The coach now has a real, loud voice. [Scott Brooks] told us how important Otto was to what he’s trying to do. You want coachable players. You want good people and that’s what was happening with the Caps, too."

Brooks has one year under his belt as head coach of the Wizards and that one season was characterized by change. Beyond the starting lineup, there were many new players on the bench. There was a brand new coaching staff and training staff, as well.

[RELATED: Wall and Wizards' union is a display of commitment rarely seen]

Next year should be different in that regard and Brooks believes continuity will keep them trending in the right direction. He sees a core group that is continuing to learn each other's strengths and weaknesses.

"I think it’s huge for our success moving forward. It’s nice to have players who can do it on both ends of the floor," he said. "Now we have three perimeter guys who are basically interchangeable on the defensive end. They can all guard each other’s players."

Porter fits well within that strategy given his complementary style. He can play off the ball while the Wizards' offense runs primarily through Wall and Beal. Last season Porter was super efficient with a team-best 60.8 effective field goal percentage, yet he was seventh in usage percentage among the Wizards' core rotation players. He doesn't need plays run for him or a high volume of shots to still make an impact offensively. 

Porter feels that comfortability and fit will help the Wizards continue to reach new heights after posting their most wins (49) and first division title in 38 years.

"Sticking with the guys and keeping that small core, we can only go up from here. There’s no going backwards," he said.

Keeping teams together can be easier said than done, of course. Stars leave their teams all the time and especially in the NBA. Leonsis believes there are reasons why he has been able to prevent that with both the Wizards and Caps.

"I think when players are young and you can develop a relationship with them that’s built on trust and that they internalize that Washington, D.C. is a great city and when you’re in it together, it makes these things easy," he said. "It’s not like I’ve had to sell Alex [Ovechkin] and Nick [Backstrom] and John. If you’ve noticed, players are leaving other teams that the team didn’t want to lose. That happens all the time. That’s not happening with us. The players that we want to keep, they believe in us."

[RELATED: Kyrie Irving sees Wall's role with Wizards as a model to follow]

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Jamal Crawford says he twice almost signed with the Wizards

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USA Today Sports

Jamal Crawford says he twice almost signed with the Wizards

When veteran guard Jamal Crawford hit the free agent market unexpectedly in July, the Wizards were one of the first teams linked to him. He ultimately signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but in a recent interview on the Hoops Hype podcast with Alex Kennedy, Crawford admitted the Wizards were a realistic possibility.

Crawford, in fact, notes there has been mutual interest in the past.

With Washington, I felt like with them almost going to the Eastern Conference Finals last year – going to Game 7 [against the Celtics] – they’re a team on the rise. People don’t know this, but I was actually really close to signing with them last year before I decided to re-sign with the Clippers.

Before Wizards fans start dreaming about Crawford coming to Washington in the future, it's worth noting he is 37 years old and signed a two-year deal with Minnesota. He is unlikely to ever play with the Wizards at this point.

Still, it's interesting to wonder what could have been if Crawford signed with the Wizards particularly last offseason. He eventually got a substantial three-year deal of $42 million from the Clippers, but was coming off winning the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award. Given the Wizards' bench struggles, surely he could have helped.

[RELATED: Kyrie Irving sees Wall's role with Wizards as a model to follow]

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