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Gulf widens for Wall, All-Star start virtually out of reach


Gulf widens for Wall, All-Star start virtually out of reach

Any outside shot that John Wall had of making a late surge to nab a starting spot in the NBA All-Star Game for the second year in a row is virtually gone.

The NBA released its third returns Thursday, before fan voting closes Monday at midnight, and Wall remains in fifth place among all East guards (behind Dwyane Wade, Kyrie Irving, Kyle Lowry and Jimmy Butler) and third among point guards (Irving, Lowry).

The top two vote-getters among guards and the top three frontcourt players will be named starters Jan. 21. Wall likely will be named a reserve when NBA coaches vote exactly a week later.


Irving (399,757) widened his lead over Wall from almost 65,000 votes in the last tally to more than 100,000 this week. Wall (281,936) and Lowry (367,472) were All-Stars last season, too.

Wade (736,732) leads all East guards while LeBron James has received the conference's most votes (830,345).

The most significant movement came among East frontcourt players where Carmelo Anthony (368,336), bolstered by a Twitter campaign (as was Irving) involving James last week, moved ahead of Andre Drummond (361,307) to the No. 3 spot for the starting job along with James and Paul George (569,947).

After jumping Kawhi Leonard (487,626) in the last vote, Draymond Green (499,947) retains his narrow lead for the third and final starting spot among West frontcourt players.

Kobe Bryant (1,533,432), the leader in overall votes, will start along with Kevin Durant (774,782) and either Green or Leonard while the guards are slated to be Steph Curry (1,206,467) and Russell Westbrook (609,901)

The voting campaign launched by James and friends hasn't been enough to elevate Chris Paul (410,284), who is third.

East guards

Dwyane Wade (Mia) 736,732

Kyrie Irving (Cle) 399,757

Kyle Lowry (Tor) 367,472

Jimmy Butler (Chi) 356,561

John Wall (Was) 281,936

DeMar DeRozan (Tor) 262,683

Derrick Rose (Chi) 217,986

Jeremy Lin (Cha) 155,475

Isaiah Thomas (Bos) 111,838

Reggie Jackson (Det) 57,736


LeBron James (Cle) 830,345

Paul George (Ind) 569,947

Carmelo Anthony (NYK) 368,336

Andre Drummond (Det) 361,307

Pau Gasol (Chi) 294,172

Chris Bosh (Mia) 266,817

Kristaps Porzingis (NYK) 248,783

Kevin Love (Cle) 241,700

Hassan Whiteside (Mia) 226,039

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Mil) 60,953

Jonas Valanciunas (Tor) 45,743

Marcin Gortat (Was) 34,747

Joakim Noah (Chi) 34,274

DeMarre Carroll (Tor) 31,861

Paul Millsap (Atl) 29,576

West guards

Stephen Curry (GS) 1,206,467

Russell Westbrook (OKC) 609,901

Chris Paul (LAC) 410,284

Klay Thompson (GS) 386,053

James Harden (Hou) 319,596

Rajon Rondo (Sac) 157,298

Manu Ginobili (SA) 144,712

Andre Iguodala (GS) 142,047

Tony Parker (SA) 123,136

Damian Lillard (Por) 105,797


Kobe Bryant (LAL) 1,533,432

Kevin Durant (OKC) 774,782

Draymond Green (GS) 499,947

Kawhi Leonard (SA) 487,626

Blake Griffin (LAC) 396,630

Anthony Davis (NO) 326,070

Tim Duncan (SA) 303,498

Zaza Pachulia (Dal) 299,584

DeMarcus Cousins (Sac) 267,087

Enes Kanter (OKC) 261,608

LaMarcus Aldridge (SA) 176,956

Dwight Howard (Hou) 155,975

DeAndre Jordan (LAC) 133,484

Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 128,962

Harrison Barnes (GS) 113,607

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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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Wizards blown out by Spurs, as streak of losses in San Antonio since 1999 continues

Wizards blown out by Spurs, as streak of losses in San Antonio since 1999 continues

The Washington Wizards lost to the San Antonio Spurs 98-90 on Wednesday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Streak continues: Many will tell you that San Antonio, TX is a wonderful city rife with history, good restaurants and warm weather. Please excuse the Washington Wizards if they hate the place.

They lost to the Spurs in a blowout on Wednesday and remain winless in San Antonio going all the way back to 1999. It was their 18th straight loss when playing at the Spurs.

The Spurs win games with their defense and this one was no exception. The Wizards scored their fewest points since Jan. 22, nearly two months, and shot just 42.7 percent. The Spurs hold opponents to the lowest points per game in the NBA (99.0) and the Wizards fell into all of their traps.

Bradley Beal was the only one immune to it. He had 21 points on 9-for-13 shooting. The rest of the Wizards shot just 26-for-69 (37.7%).

Losing in San Antonio has come to be expected for the Wizards, but they picked a bad night to drop a game. The Cavaliers and Sixers both won. Philly winning means more because they passed the Wizards in the East and currently sit fourth while the Wizards are in the sixth spot. 

If the playoffs began with those seeds, the Wizards would see the Cavaliers in the first round. Even though the Cavs aren't what they were a year ago, that should be avoided if possible.


Hustle plays: The Spurs also beat the Wizards at the minor details of the game, something they have long been good at under head coach Gregg Popovich. They got the loose balls and offensive rebounds at key moments to either sustain or steal momentum away from Washington.

In the first half, 40-year-old Manu Ginobli dove on the ground to beat Ramon Sessions to a loose ball and it led to two points by Pau Gasol. In the third quarter, Patty Mills flipped around quickly to steal an outlet pass from Marcin Gortat that led to free throws. And in the third there was one play when the Spurs got three offensive rebounds and ultimately got to the free throw line again.

The Spurs out-rebounded the Wizards 43-34 overall and outdid them in offensive rebounds 12-8. They just wanted it more on this particular night.


Oubre stood out: The Spurs' defense got the best of most players on the Wizards, but Kelly Oubre, Jr. was an exception. The third-year pro has been struggling with his shot in recent weeks, so in this one he stuck to high percentage looks, at least early. He had 10 points in his first nine minutes on 5-for-7 shooting, many of those attempts right around the rim.

Oubre attacked the lane dribbling both to his left and his right. He finished with floaters, tough layups and on one fastbreak with a thunderous left-handed slam:

Oubre ended up with 21 points, six rebounds, two steals and two blocks. He shot 9-for-17 from the field and 3-for-6 from three.

Oubre has continued to make an impact defensively, even when his shot is not falling. But he has to get more creative some nights to affect games when he isn't hitting from long range. Wednesday was a good example of how he can use his athleticism to take matters into his own hands.

It is a tricky balance, however, because sometimes his aggression can lead to mistakes. That certainly happened at times even in this game, as he had two turnovers. But when Oubre can contain his explosiveness, he can make a big difference.


Under the weather: Already without Wall, the Wizards had to shorten their rotation by two players against the Spurs as both Jodie Meeks and Mike Scott were out due to flu-like symptoms. In Meeks and Scott, the Wizards were missing two key pieces on their bench.

Instead of giving Tim Frazier and Jason Smith a rare and extended opportunity, head coach Scott Brooks instead chose to tighted things up. He relied heavily on the starters until the game was out of hand.

Brooks also got experimental, playing Tomas Satoransky (zero points, 0-for-7 FG) and Sessions together in the second quarter with Oubre and Otto Porter (12 points, seven rebounds) as the forwards. In the fourth quarter, we saw a lineup with three point guards: Sessions, Frazier and Satoransky.

The fact the Wizards had three days off before this game helped allow Brooks to rely on his starters early. It was also an opportunity for Brooks to see what life will be like when Wall returns. There is a chance Satoransky could see more time off the ball. This gave him another glimpse of how he can use Satoransky in more creative ways once the minutes at point guard go down significantly.


Up next: The Wizards are off Thursday before returning home to host the Denver Nuggets on Friday with a 7 p.m. tipoff on NBC Sports Washington. That will be a special night at Capital One Arena as the Wizards retire Phil Chenier's No. 45 jersey. 

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