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Banged-up Wall leads Wizards to stun Heat 114-103: Five takeaways


Banged-up Wall leads Wizards to stun Heat 114-103: Five takeaways

John Wall played with a broken left wrist and hand in last season's playoff, so as long as he didn't have any structural damage he was all but certain to play in Monday's game against the Miami Heat.

Wall got the Wizards (9-10) out to a good start as they led by as many as 14. He shot 9 of 13 for a game-high 26 points and seven assists as they finished with an 11-0 run to win 114-103 at American Airlines Arena.

Miami (12-7)  erased a 99-91 deficit when Dwyane Wade's drive for a layup tied the score at 101. With it tied at 103, after Bradley Beal failed to finish on a drive over Chris Bosh, Beal ripped the ball from Wade and dunked for a lead the Wizards would never relinquish again.

The Wizards had six players in double figures, with 21 for Beal and Gary Neal, Otto Porter's 13 points, career-high 14 rebounds and four assists, and 12 each for Jared Dudley and Ramon Sessions.

Goran Dragic had 20 points and nine assists and Bosh had 18 and nine. Hassan Whiteside had 14 points.

The trapping defense the Wizards used in the first quarter rattled supposedly the better defensive team, forcing the Heat into 17 turnovers.

Wall logged 38 minutes after he collided with Jeremy Evans in a home game on Sunday, having to be carried off the court because they slammed knees. Tests were negative and Wall only had a bruise. The knee, he said, previously was bruised which is why it was so painful.


Wall warmed up quickly and the Wizards shot 50% from three-point range (9 of 18) and overall (46 of 92). The Heat shot 59.4% (41 of 69) but just 31.2% from three (5 of 16).

When the Heat made their run to tie it late, Wall scored six points to sustain Washington for the finish. Neal's three-pointer in the final 90 seconds sealed it as the Heat came unglued and Bosh was ejected for arguing with officials.

  • Neal's shot-making is one thing, but what he did off the dribble was every bit as important. Neal was so hot making 7 of 8 that the Heat ran numbers at him. Neal put the ball on the floor and got into the lane and hit open shooters on pass outs. When he found Dudley wide open at the arc, the Wizards regained a lead they'd lost 85-84. Neal had four assists and two steals.  

  • This is why Ryan Hollins, a long, athletic 7-footer signed last week. The Wizards need rim protection and he did it in 14 minutes as he tallied four points and five rebounds. Bosh was short on a jump hook at the rim because of Hollins' challenge, Wade missed when he went straight up on help defense and an offensive rebound led to a shot for Porter that put him on the foul line. Hollins kept the ball alive for another possession on a miss, and his trap of Dragic forced a turnover and led to a dunk for Wall and a 20-12 lead. When the Wizards got their first field goal to start the third quarter, it was Hollins' solid screen on Bosh that freed Beal to get to the rim for a dunk. Hollins didn't play much in the second half but he's not here to log starter's minutes or post double-doubles. He did his job in his best game so far. 

  • Wade was a terror in the mid-post despite overall good defense by the Wizards. Whether it was Porter or Beal, he was able to get to the mid-post and score three consecutive baskets late in the second quarter when Miami made its run to trim the deficit to 60-55 by halftime. Wade hit fadeways, stepbacks and got to the rim. He made 12 of 15 shots and had nine assists. He'll be an unrestricted free agent next summer and with play like this even at an advanced age he'll get plenty of takers if his asking price is right. 

  • The small-ball style that wasn't as effective late against the Dallas Mavericks did the trick in this one. Whiteside was neutralized, only getting four rebounds and coach Erik Spoelstra pulled him for the entire fourth quarter (something the Wizards have had to do the past with Marcin Gortat). The Wizards' fast-paced offense pushed the ball off of makes by Miami, beating the bigs down the court as Wall, Beal and Sessions were able to get layups. When used intelligently, it's an effective way to play to neutralize teams when undersized. Spoelstra went with rookie guard Justise Winslow for all but seven seconds of the fourth as a counter, but he's an offensively liability which worked in the Wizards' favor because that was one less offensive threat to account for in the Wizards' switch-and-scramble coverages.

  • Porter's shot still isn't there (5-for-15) but he made up for it by grabbing eight rebounds in the first quarter alone. He ended up with 10 more than Whiteside. This is why small ball can work and frankly it fits Porter's style. He's a blue-collar player who makes his bread and butter this way. Porter added four assists, two steals and a blocked shot. But the three-point shots remain there (0-for-2) though he has only made one in the last five games. Not to be overlooked, Porter ran out to the corner to close out Dragic from the three-point line with 1:32 left in the game. Unable to free himself off the dribble, Dragic pushed off Porter for an offensive foul. Then came Neal's dagger for a 108-103 lead.

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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Washington Wizards

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


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Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

As if they needed a reminder, the Wizards saw firsthand on Wednesday night just how much can change in a short period of time in the Eastern Conference playoff race where just two games separate the No. 3 and No. 6 teams.

That No. 6 team is now your Washington Wizards, who began the day in fourth place but lost their first game in four days on the same night both the Cavs and Sixers won theirs. 

The Wizards lost to the Spurs on Wednesday and managed only 90 points, their fewest since Jan. 22. It was a lackluster performance in a game the Wizards needed to treat with urgency. 


The Spurs sure did.

"We've gotta have a better mentality coming into games," guard Bradley Beal said. "The Spurs were fighting for playoff seeding just like we were."

The Wizards have now lost six of their last 10, yet all those games have come against teams currently holding playoff spots. Considering John Wall reamins out with a left knee injury, it's hard to fault them too much when they are staying afloat just fine in the big picture.

The problem is that the closer they get to the end of the season, the more these losses are magnified. They amount to missed opportunities, some bigger than others.

That was not lost on Beal, who considered the alternative. If the Wizards had beaten the Spurs, they would be sitting in fourth, two spots higher, and just a game-and-a-half out of third.

"Every time we have a chance to move up, we take two steps back," Beal lamented.


The Wizards are in a high stakes part of the standings where plenty is in the balance. They are fighting for home court advantage, something they would get in the third or fourth spots. And who they match up with will be paramount.

By falling to sixth, the Wizards are currently in line to play the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though the Pacers and Sixers are also good teams, they don't have LeBron James. Avoiding him and the Cavs would be ideal for the Wizards.

Beal has even bigger worries than that. He noted after the loss in San Antonio that they could fall even further if they aren't careful. They are now just a game-and-a-half up on the seventh-place Heat. 

"We've gotta realize what's at stake, man. The way we're going, we could keep dropping and mess around and be eighth. We've gotta do whatever it takes to win," he said.

The Wizards should be fine, if the previous two months are any indication. But Wednesday night was another example of how precarious things are for them this season in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference.


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