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Bench efficiency contributes to Wizards' road turnaround

Bench efficiency contributes to Wizards' road turnaround

The road issues have been solved, at least for now, with the Wizards trampling the Atlanta Hawks by 26 points and on their way to New Orleans for a game Sunday.

They cleaned up a lot of the mess they created for themselves on Oct. 27, the regular-season opener for both teams, when Dennis Schroder lived inside the paint and Dwight Howard dominated rebounding. 

Friday, Schroder was 3-for-11 for nine points with four turnovers. Howard had 12 points and 13 rebounds, but most of his scoring came after halftime when the outcome was clear. It marked the Wizards' third win in their last four away games.

"We did a great job of keeping their guys out the paint," Wizards point guard John Wall said. "Everybody was into the ball. ... Challenged every shot, just about."

The Hawks were limited to 30 points in the lane (14 fewer than Oct. 27) and were outrebounded 52-41 (they won this category 52-40 on Oct. 27)

Then everyone not named Wall and Bradley Beal made their shots. Marcin Gortat was 7-for-8, Otto Porter 7-for-11, Tomas Satoransky 4-for-5 and Trey Burke 4-for-7.

"A lot of teams are going to double-team me and Brad or trap us in pick-and-roll situations," Wall said. "We just try to make the right plays."

Coach Scott Brooks has been pleased that his preaching of spacing since training camp has gotten through. 

"Everybody touched the ball," he said. "Everybody was getting good looks."

Reserves tend to play better at home than away, but in the last four road games: Burke is 11-for-17 shooting with 10 assists; Satoransky is 5-for-7; Smith is 15-for-23 with 16 rebounds; and Kelly Oubre was 12-for-20 before he went 2-for-11 Friday, but he has 10 rebounds and six steals.

RELATED: Safe to say the Wizards have turned the corner

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Heat rising, Knicks falling in Kyrie Irving sweepstakes, report says

Heat rising, Knicks falling in Kyrie Irving sweepstakes, report says

Things moved very quickly with Kyrie Irving and his request to be traded by the Cleveland Cavaliers once the news broke over the weekend. Soon after that news was revealed, we learned of the four teams he would prefer to be traded to. ESPN's Chris Haynes had Irving eyeing the Heat, Knicks, Timberwolves and Spurs.

Now almost a week later, one of those teams seems to be rising the list while another seems to be falling. The first report, from ESPN's Pablo Torre, has Irving with increased interest in the Knicks. Irving does happen to be from nearby New Jersey.

[RELATED: Wizards Tipoff podcast - Wall's deal, Cavs crumbling?]

The second report, which comes from Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, has the Heat falling out of the mix. Here is what Jackson wrote:

And while the possibility certainly cannot be ruled out, the Heat does not have considerable optimism about being able to strike a deal, multiple league sources said.

One Eastern Conference official who spoke to the Heat said Miami considers itself something of a long shot.

Regarding the Knicks, it would make sense if there were interest from both sides. New York has Carmelo Anthony, who would be a good fit for the Cavaliers as they chase another championship, while Irving could team up with young star Kristaps Porzingis on the Knicks. Once Porzingis comes into his own, that could be among the best tandems in the NBA.

It also makes perfect sense why the Heat would not be a good fit. The Heat have two very good players in Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside, but would have to likely part with one to bring in Irving. Swap Irving in for Dragic and the Heat probably aren't much better. Maybe they sell some more tickets, but it's not a major upgrade. From the Cavs' perspective, Dragic is better than Derrick Rose, whom Cleveland recently signed, but kind of redundant. Dragic is also six years older than Irving.

If Irving goes to the Knicks, it would make the East more interesting because New York would probably take a big step forward. If he is traded to the Heat for Dragic, it may not mean much for the rest of the conference.

[RELATED: Wall's new contract official: 'It was an easy decision']

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By re-signing with Wizards, Otto Porter remains in his 'hometown'

By re-signing with Wizards, Otto Porter remains in his 'hometown'

Otto Porter still goes back to his true hometown of Sikeston, Mo. each chance he gets, often to refurbish classic cars with his family, but the Wizards forward has lived in Washington, D.C. long enough to consider the nation's capital his home, too. After starring at Georgetown University in northwest Washington from 2011 through 2013, Porter has been a member of the Washington Wizards for the past four seasons, still playing his home games at the same place he did in college, at the Verizon Center.

Porter, 24, seriously considered leaving Washington when they allowed him to become a restricted free agent in early July. He met with the Sacramento Kings and Brooklyn Nets, the latter of which made him a contract offer. But the Wizards ultimately matched their number of $106.5 million and in doing so kept Porter in a place he knows well.

"I’m so excited to be back," Porter said. "This is my hometown. This is where I grew up outside of back in Missouri. This is where I learned everything that I know now."

[RELATED: Wizards Tipoff podcast - Wall's deal, Cavs crumbling?]

Porter sat at the podium of the press conference to announce his new deal last week wearing a grey Glen plaid suit. Next to him was majority owner Ted Leonsis, also a Georgetown alum who has now been watching and rooting for Porter for six years going back to his college days.

Leonsis joked that he knew Porter was special when watching him in "Big East Tournaments and against Syracuse."

But the connection goes deeper than that. Leonsis had and still has a few contacts at the school he can ask about Porter.

"Coach [John] Thompson [III] made a comment when we drafted Otto that was pretty prophetic," Leonsis said. "He said there are some players that are high maintenance, there are some players that are low maintenance and Otto is no maintenance. You need that in a team. You just need to have players that are selfless and they’re not egoless, but they understand their role and that they embrace that. Though the league has changed so dramatically in the few years that I’ve been the majority owner of the team where your skill, talent, three-point shooting and running the floor; it’s almost positionless. All teams need a player like Otto."

[RELATED: Wall's new contract official: 'It was an easy decision']

Leonsis continued to drop an important name in the Georgetown community.

"I’ll tell you another story. I saw [school president] Jack DeGioia last week at an event. He said congratulations and thank you on Otto. I said ‘yeah, I think of it as a alumni that you can cultivate to give back to the school.’ And Jack said Otto’s already been generous with the school. I didn’t know that. Otto has already been supportive. I think that just speaks volumes that he didn’t wait until his max deal to give back to his alma mater, so I was very proud of that."

Porter is originally from Missouri, but clearly his D.C. connections run deep. He has been around long enough to understand the locals' desire for a true winner. No D.C. major sports team (Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, Nationals) has won a title since the Skins won the Super Bowl in 1992. None of them have even made the semifinals of their league since 1998.

"I’m hoping to bring a championship to the city because we need it desperately. I’m very excited," Porter said.

[RELATED: Continuity was key in Wizards' decision to retain Otto Porter]