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Brooks: John Wall sets career pace despite knee surgeries holding him back

Brooks: John Wall sets career pace despite knee surgeries holding him back

The streaks are piling up for the Wizards, nine wins in a row at Verizon Center and eight of their wins this season coming back from double-digit deficits. It's not ideal and a lot of the latter has to do with slow starts defensively when opponents score 30 or more points in the first quarter. 

But coach Scott Brooks pointed to one key area for their revival going into Tuesday night's game vs. the Chicago Bulls: John Wall. 

Although most of the country doesn't recognize not only what he's doing from a statistical standpoint, evident by Wall being just seventh among East guards in All-Star voting, but the context in which he's doing it. Wall had surgeries to both knees May 5 after he averaged 19.9 points and 10 rebounds in a 41-41 2015-16 season. Now he's at a career high 23.1 points per game, 10.1 assists (0.1 off a career-high), 4.4 rebounds and a career-high 2.3 steals. He's also shooting 46.6% from the field (also a career-high) and has 22 double-doubles which far outdistances any guard in his conference.

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"I always give a lot of praise to players that put  (themselves) out there when they’re not NBA ready 100 percent. He had the two knee surgeries over the summer. His first practice was October 7th. He was working himself into shape while we were playing games for real. A lot of players don’t do it," Brooks said after Monday's afternoon practice session. "You hear it a lot, 'I’m not coming back until I’m 1,000 percent ready.’ We’re not going to put anybody out there if they’re not physically ready but you still have to get past being game ready, being in shape and playing through the conditioning that you need. He has done that."

Given what has happened with Derrick Rose as of Monday night, Brooks' perspective could be even more appropriate (Note: He was not referring to Rose or any other player other than Wall so the timing here was pure coincidence). Rose, who had a checkered history when with the Chicago Bulls of holding himself out of games after knee surgery, didn't report to Madison Square Garden for a game with the New York Knicks. The reasons remain unclear. If this turns out to be a voluntary decision and that he didn't clear it with the team first, it would be nothing short of stunning.

Rose, too, is among the six East guards ahead of Wall in All-Star voting. Wall had 10 double-doubles in December. That's nine more than Rose has had all season, and Wall was on an early-season minutes restriction and held out from both games of back-to-backs. 

"He hit is stride in early December. Now he lost some weight that he gained when he wasn’t able to do anything and he’s down to his fighting weight and he’s playing well," Brooks said. "He’s moving well. He’s making shots. He’s locking up defensively. When John has good games for us, he’s one of the best defending point guards in the league. It’s a hard position to defend with so many great point guards offensive minded and every team is built on 70 or 80 pick-and-rolls each game."

The Wizards began 2-8. Wall has led them back to 18-18 and they have a chance to be over .500 for the second time this season. It would be the first time they get over that hump since they were 6-5 on Nov. 24, 2015. They had four chances only to fail last season at 14-14, 19-19, 30-30 and 35-35.

MORE NBA: NBA Insiders Notebook: Paul Millsap to Toronto?

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Markieff Morris stands up for rapper Meek Mill, was happy to see support in Philly

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USA Today Sports

Markieff Morris stands up for rapper Meek Mill, was happy to see support in Philly

Rap star Meek Mill going back to prison has affected many of his fans, Markieff Morris among them. The Washington Wizards forward is from Philadelphia, like Meek Mill, and loves his music.

Morris posted information for a rally to support Meek Mill earlier this month on his Instagram. Hundreds of fans showed up, including Sixers legend Julius Erving, Eagles players and Rick Ross.

The whole tri-state pull up and support!!

A post shared by KeefMorris5.0 (@keefmorris5.0) on

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Morris joined the Wizards Tipoff podcast this week to discuss a series of topics, including Meek Mill. Morris is upset about the situation, but was happy to see the support.

"The city was big. We needed that, man," he said. "For them people to come out, it was a great thing for us, man, to see the support that the city is really behind him 100 percent."

Morris defended Meek Mill's character and pointed to his charitable efforts.

"Meek does a lot of stuff that goes unseen in Philly. He's kind of like us when it comes to showing support for the city and doing stuff while not looking for cameras to be broadcast it that he's doing something nice. He just does it because he's a good person," Morris said.

Meek Mill is going back to prison for violating his probation numerous times over the past several years. He was sentenced to two to four years.

Morris also talked about his relationship with John Wall and Bradley Beal, why he loves playing with Mike Scott, why the Wizards are a tough team and many other subjects.

Listen to the full interview right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

[RELATED: BRADLEY BEAL'S BIG MILESTONE, BY THE NUMBERS]

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Wizards at Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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Wizards at Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and the Washington Wizards battle Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Malik Monk and the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch…

WASHINGTON WIZARDS AT CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Where: Spectrum Center
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington Plus (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Online with no cable TV: fuboTV (try for free)
Radio: 1500 AM

Three things to watch...

Defense has been excellent

The Wizards have shown recently that they are capable of being one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. In six of their last seven games they have held opponents to 95 points or less and they have kept teams to 100 points or less in seven straight. Only one team, the Celtics, has kept teams to 95 points or less more often than the Wizards (seven times). And only three teams have held opponents to 100 points or less more times than the Wizards (nine times).

The Wizards are eighth in defensive rating (102.5) and in points allowed (102.9/g) this season. They are third in points allowed in their last nine games. Have they played the best opponents? Maybe not. But those are impressive numbers, nonetheless.

[PODCAST: MORRIS ON WHY THE WIZARDS ARE A TOUGH TEAM]

Hornets have Howard now

Charlotte offers a different look these days with big man Dwight Howard manning the middle. They acquired him in a trade with the Hawks this offseason and he's off to a good start so far. Howard is averaging 14.6 points, 12.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. He had 25 points, 20 rebounds and four blocks against the Timberwolves on Monday.

The Hornets have also seen a huge improvement from 25-year-old guard Jeremy Lamb. The former first round pick is averaging 16.0 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 46.4 percent. Last year he averaged a career-high 9.7 points.

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Recent history

The Wizards have handled the Hornets well in recent years. They won two of their three meetings last season and have won seven of the last 10 matchups going back to 2015. All three of the games between these teams last year, however, were decided by 10 points or less.

Walker tends to have trouble against John Wall. Walker has shot a hideous 35.7 percent against the Wizards in his career despite averaging 17.6 points and 6.4 assists. Wall's numbers against the Hornets are lower than his career norms, too. He's averaging a modest 17.7 points on 42.7 percent from the field. His 98 defensive rating vs. Charlotte is tied for his worst against any NBA team.

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