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After 'devastating' news, Wizards prepare to play without Wall


After 'devastating' news, Wizards prepare to play without Wall

The dynamic of the Wizards' series with the Atlanta Hawks has changed drastically after Thursday's revelation that point guard John Wall could be out for the postseason with five non-displaced fractures in his left hand and wrist. The team should have a definitive answer soon. 

"There's no timetable for something like this is the best way I can put it," coach Randy Wittman said with Game 3 at Verizon Center on Saturday. "We got to be prepared as a team to play without him. Our guys are doing that. Knowing John, if there's a slight chance to get in, he's holding out for that. That's the type of kid he is."

Wall had X-ray at Phillips Arena after Game 1, when he had a hard fall in the second quarter of a 104-98 victory for the Wizards. He said then as well as after a 106-90 loss in Game 2, when he sat out, that there were no fractures or structural damage shown in the tests. Wednesday, however, it was evident that something was amiss with such bad swelling. 

A non-displaced fracture occurs when there is a crack or break in the bone but the bone itself remains aligned. That makes it tougher to diagnose initially and Wall's swelling compounded the matter. A displaced fracture results in a shift in the bone from its original position.

"A step at a time. The toughest guy I've been around. We just got to let this play out the way it's going to play out. I can't give you what that is," Wittman said. "Swelling and stuff has a lot to do with it. Who knows how long something like that is going to stay. That would've been true today even if we didn't have the report back of the broken bone. His hand is so big he can't handle the ball, he can't control anything. ... Let's get that swelling out there, see where we're at and move forward from there."

Wall had 18 points and 13 assists in the win vs. Atlanta. He averaged 12.5 assists per game in a first-round series sweep of the Toronto Raptors. Paul Pierce has played a big role in their postseason success as well, and now he'll have to do even more.

"It's definitely difficult for the team but I'm sure it's more devastating for John," Pierce said. "He worked so hard to get to this point in his career, to play so well throughout these playoffs to hear that type of news it's devastating. I'm more hurt for him than anything. I know how bad he wants to be out there so my prayers go out to him and his family right now."

Ramon Sessions practiced with the first unit for the first time and had 21 points in Game 2 which was a playoff career high. Garrett Temple and Will Bynum also could factor into the game plan off the bench.

"It's definitely got to come from me and a number of other guys who have the opportunity now to step up," Pierce said. "By no means do we feel like this series is over or our goals change. We're going to continue to go out there, reach for our goals and continue to fight each and every night. ... It's up to everybody to rally around one another, use this as motivation and go out here and try to win these games especially for John.

"Ramon has been a starter in this league. He understands his role. He's not John Wall. He's not the guy to go out there and get you 25 and 13. We just ask him to continue what he needs to do. Attack, when the shots are there take them, move the ball, play steady defense, it's not going to come from one person. One guy cannot fill John's role. It's going to have to be collectively whether its him, Garrett Temple, Will Bynum, not only from the point guards but other guys, too. Hopefully these guys are motivated. Nobody picked us in the first round. Nobody is picking us in this round. Nobody expect these guys to go in there and to do the job. We in this locker room, we expect to."

[RELATED: Beal's shot distribution takes wrong turn]

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Wizards hope meeting between superstar backcourt can jumpstart Bradley Beal's playoff production

Wizards hope meeting between superstar backcourt can jumpstart Bradley Beal's playoff production

With an 0-2 deficit in their first-round playoff series against the Raptors, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks called for a meeting with his two All-Star guards once his team returned to Washington. Brooks met with John Wall and Bradley Beal, hoping to solve an issue that plagued them particularly in Game 2, a blowout loss.

Brooks is intent on getting more out of Beal offensively and since Wall is the quarterback of their offense, it made sense to have him present. After Beal scored nine points and shot just 3-for-11 from the field and 1-for-5 from three, it is clear to Brooks that the Wizards need more to climb back in this series.

"We need to have Brad play well. It's no secret that you need your best players to step up and play well," Brooks said.

Both Brooks and Wall, who each spoke after Thursday's practice, said Beal needs to be more assertive in the offense. Beal averaged 28.8 points against the Raptors through four regular season games and Wall did not play in any of them. In theory, things should be easier for him now with another star player drawing attention.

That has not been the case, however. Beal is averaging 14.0 points through two games while shooting just 39.3 percent from the field and 27.3 percent from three. 

Even if his shot isn't falling, the Wizards want Beal to force the issue.

"I feel like I tell him at times that he needs to be more aggressive. Be more aggressive and look for your shot," Wall said. "He even says it that he has to be more aggressive himself. Even if he's missing or making shots. That's how he's been all season. We need that same type of player, to be aggressive and get at least 20 shots or more per game. That's when our team is probably at our best."

Beal has been limited to 14 shots per game by the Raptors when he averaged 18.1 during the regular season. Wall said he and Beal often talk within games about how Beal would like to be set up and the meeting with Brooks involved some of that dialogue.

While Beal's struggles stand out, the same could be said for Otto Porter, the Wizards' third-leading scorer. Porter was held to 12 points in Game 2 and did not attempt a single three-pointer. For a guy who finished third in the NBA in three-point percentage (44.1), that is difficult to justify.

Like Beal, the Wizards need Porter to impose his will a bit more and according to Brooks, the right lower leg strain he suffered late in the regular season is not to blame.

"He's 100 percent healthy," Brooks said. "It's always been a little bit of a problem. We want Otto to be more aggressive. We gotta run some more plays for him and the defense has done a good job on him. We need him to play well."

Like Beal, Porter had success against Toronto in the regular season. He averaged 18.5 points on 59.2 percent shooting, including a 24-point game on March 2. 

The Wizards need Beal and Porter to step up, knowing the series could hinge on if they do.





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Ty Lawson is playing a bigger role than anyone could have predicted for Wizards vs. Raptors

Ty Lawson is playing a bigger role than anyone could have predicted for Wizards vs. Raptors

The biggest surprise of the Wizards-Raptors series through two games, at least from Washington's perspective, has to be the fact Ty Lawson has very quickly earned a prominent role in Scott Brooks' playoff rotation.

Lawson, 30, was signed the day after the regular season and after he played much of 2017-18 in China with the Shandong Golden Stars. He did not appear in one game with the Wizards or any other NBA team during the regular season, yet he was the first point guard off the bench in Game 2.

When John Wall picked up two quick fouls, it was Lawson who got the nod, not Tomas Satoransky. Lawson ended up playing 31 minutes, more than Satoransky and fellow backup point guard Tim Frazier have earned combined through two games.

Though the Wizards had three point guards on their bench behind Wall before Lawson even signed, he has apparently surpassed them all on the depth chart. Satoransky is the most surprising, given he played quite well during the regular season.

Satoransky averaged 7.2 points, 3.9 assists and shot a team-best 46.5 percent from three. He had the highest offensive rating (124) on the team.

Lawson, though, played quite well in Game 2. He put up 14 points, eight assists and three rebounds while shooting 4-for-5 from three.

Lawson outscored four of the Wizards' five starters. Not bad for his first game.

"He did everything I knew he was capable of doing," Brooks said. "I’ve seen him do it for many, many years. He’s tough, he’s a competitor. He competes and pushes the pace. He plays defense. I liked the spirit."

Lawson provided a noticeable spark. He is still quick and aggressive with the ball, not afraid to look for his own shot, and played physical defense against the Raptors. Lawson ended the night plus-8 in the box score in a game the Wizards lost by 11.

"It’s good to see him get into a game and be able to produce for us," guard Bradley Beal said.

Given the Wizards lost Game 2 and face an 0-2 deficit in their series, it is likely that Brooks continues to alter his rotation in the coming games. He could go back to Satoransky more often, knowing he had some solid games against Toronto in the regular season, including on March 2 when he had 10 points, eight assists and six rebounds.

Satoransky could see more time at shooting guard or small forward and could play alongside Lawson. That might be Satoransky's best bet because Lawson did nothing in Game 2 to squander the opportunity.

For a team whose effort has been questioned by their head coach, Lawson's energy and urgency was noteworthy. He brought the edge of a guy playing for his NBA career, knowing a good playoff series could earn him a contract next season. 

Clearly, the way Lawson played was refreshing for Brooks given how long he kept him out on the floor. He may have come out of nowhere, but it looks like Lawson is here to stay.




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