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Dudley elevates John Wall to Steve Nash territory


Dudley elevates John Wall to Steve Nash territory

From the outside looking in, Jared Dudley didn't know what to make of John Wall before beginning his first season with the Wizards. Thirty-one games in, he now knows he belongs in elite company after he uttered "Steve Nash" following Wall's eighth consecutive double-double -- 14th since Dec. 1.

"I think that when he plays with energy and passion on the defensive end and offensive end, it takes our team to a whole other level. Obviously that's easier said than done. But with John, when he's attacking, even when he's not scoring, he sets up everyone," said Dudley, in his ninth season after spending four with Nash with the Phoenix Suns and one with Chris Paul and the L.A. Clippers. "The last person to do that for me was Steve Nash. He's similar in that way but he's so much more athletic and explosive that he puts so much pressure on you."

Wall had game-highs of 24 points and 13 assists on Friday. Dudley, who is shooting a career-high 46.7% from three-point range, only made 1 of 5 from deep. But what's surprising is that even with his accuracy (No. 4 in NBA), Dudley continues to get wide-open look after wide-open look even without Bradley Beal not on the floor.

The reason? Wall. His dribble penetration causes so much havoc that defenses sink in to absorb it and when the ball is kicked out its easier for shooters. That's why Wall was given a max deal when the Wizards were a 29-win team a few seasons ago. The Wizards saw that he made everyone around him better (see stats in contract years for Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster), and every metric proved it. They just had to put better pieces around him to get better results.

For his career, Dudley shoots 40% from three. He's now starting as the Wizards' stretch power forward. The pick-and-roll action with Wall and between Wall and Marcin Gortat is creating space all over.

"Running pick-and-rolls, most teams don't want to switch their four on me," said Wall, who is second in the NBA in assists at 9.9 per game. "So they're trying to (double me). We run pick-and-roll with March also. They're helping. That leaves Dud wide open and he's able to knock down shots."

MORE WIZARDS: Kelly Oubre loses sight of lobs from Wall: 'I couldn't see'

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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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