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Triple Crown won't be easy for I'll Have Another

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Triple Crown won't be easy for I'll Have Another

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- I'll Have Another will face several familiar foes in his attempt to win the Belmont Stakes and become the first Triple Crown champion in 34 years. Among the 3-year-olds trying to play spoiler in the June 9 Belmont are Dullahan and Union Rags, the third- and seventh-place finishers in the Derby who both skipped the Preakness. I'll Have Another's trainer Doug O'Neill mentioned Union Rags and Dullahan as tough rivals, saying "they have fresh legs and are ready to go." So is his Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, who arrived at Belmont Park on Sunday after a five-plus hour ride in a horse van from Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. "We're ready to go, too," he said outside his barn at Pimlico before leaving for California. "Our horse came out of this race in great shape and as long as he stays injury free we've got a big, big chance." Others Belmont probables are Rousing Sermon, eighth in the Derby; Optimizer, 11th in the Derby and sixth in the Preakness; Peter Pan winner Mark Valeski; and Paynter, trained by Bob Baffert. Among others set for their first Triple Crown race are Antigun, Five Sixteen, Guyana Star Dweej, Street Life and Unstoppable U. Bodemeister, who finished second in the Derby and Preakness, isn't running in the Belmont. O'Neill is not sad. "Anytime you can dodge an amazing horse like that, it's a good thing," O'Neill said. Union Rags won the Champagne at Belmont as a 2-year-old, and was the 5-1 second favorite in the Derby. Blue Grass Stakes winner Dullahan closed with a rush and finished less than two lengths behind I'll Have Another at Churchill Downs. Trainer Dale Romans elected to pass on the Preakness and train his colt for the 1-mile Belmont. If Optimizer runs, it will be trainer D. Wayne Lukas' 22nd Belmont horse. The Hall of Fame trainer has won the race four times, most recently with Commendable in 2000. Mark Valeski finished second in the Risen Star and the Louisiana Derby, but skipped the Derby and Preakness. He came back and won the Peter Pan at Belmont on May 12. Paynter finished fourth behind I'll Have Another in the Santa Anita Derby, and won an allowance race on the Preakness undercard. Alpha, the Withers winner who finished 12th in the Derby, is a possible. He worked four furlongs in 49.17 seconds Saturday at Belmont, and assistant trainer Art Magnuson said "We're not deciding anything yet, we're just going to watch things and let the horse tell us."

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Will John Wall miss any games with his latest injury?

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USA Today Sports Images

Will John Wall miss any games with his latest injury?

With how poorly John Wall played on Friday night against the Miami Heat, it makes sense that there is a specific explanation why.

Wall, who went scoreless until 5:25 remaining in the fourth quarter, says he had little mobility in his left knee due to fluid buildup. It all stems from last weekend when he was administered two IVs by the Wizards' training staff so he could play against the Atlanta Hawks.

Wall was given the fluids to combat a bad cold that was compounded by a migraine headache. They didn't settle correctly and now the fluid has collected in his left knee.

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Now a week later, Wall is still feeling the effects.

"I could barely move out there," he said. "I was feeling like some s***."

Wall has been dealing with this for several days - he first mentioned it in an interview with NBC Sports Washington last weekend -  but said Friday was particularly bad due to it being chilly in Capital One Arena. The Wizards share a stadium with the NHL's Washington Capitals.

Wall was held to just eight points in the Wizards' 91-88 loss to Miami. He shot 3-for-12 from the field in 35 minutes.

Wall's eight points matched his lowest scoring output in a game since Dec. 12, 2014 when he had six. He has never been held scoreless in a game, but had zero points in the first 41:25 on Friday night.

With Wall admittedly not feeling well, the question now becomes whether he will miss any time. Fluid buildup isn't a serious injury, but the Wizards happen to have their first back-to-back games coming up on Sunday and Monday. They will play the Raptors and Bucks, two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.

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Wall said he has full confidence in the Wizards' training staff and the team's doctors to decide whether he will be good to go on Sunday for a 3:30 p.m. tipoff. It will depend on how he feels on Saturday after getting a night's rest.

But given the fact it's a back-to-back set and given that it's so early in the season, it would not be surprising if Wall missed one of those games. The Wizards have already beaten Toronto, ironically without Wall. With one win under their belt, they would at worst be tied in the season series with a loss.

Against Milwaukee, Wall may have more incentive to play given the season series. Head-to-head records determine tiebreakers for playoff seeding.

Whether Wall misses a game or not, this is another obstacle in a season full of minor injuries for Wall. He missed the game against the Raptors because he sprained his left shoulder in the game before. He has had migraines, has been sick, sprained his ankle on Monday vs. the Kings and now he can't shake this fluid buildup in his left knee. After a full offseason of being healthy, all of a sudden Wall is having some tough luck.

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John Wall said he could 'barely move' vs. Heat due to residual fluid buildup in his left knee

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John Wall said he could 'barely move' vs. Heat due to residual fluid buildup in his left knee

John Wall didn't score until there were five minutes left in the Wizards' narrow loss to the Heat. His lack of offensive production stood out as Washington struggled to catch up to Miami at Capital One Arena Friday. 

After the game, Wall blamed fluid buildup in his left knee for his inability to contribute. 

He told the assembled media that he could "barely move" at the beginning of the game. 

The knee ailment dates back to IVs he received this past weekend, Wall said. This isn't the first time he's mentioned the issue, either. 

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It first came up in a walkoff interview he did with NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller after the Wizards' win over the Kings. 

With road games in Toronto, Milwaukee and Charlotte next on the schedule, it's possible the Wizards training staff could consider resting Wall as a precaution.