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Hornets roar back to top Wizards again 108-104: Five takeaways

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Hornets roar back to top Wizards again 108-104: Five takeaways

Jeremy Lin's thee-pointer with 29 seconds left held off a late charge by the Wizards, who blew a 19-point lead to lose at the Charlotte Hornets for the second time this season.

Charlotte (25-26) went on an 18-4 run during a five-minute stretch of the second quarter led by Nicolas Batum (26 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists), Kemba Walker (23 points), Spencer Hawes (14 points) and Marvin Williams (13 points, 10 rebounds).

In three meetings, the Hornets have won two of them to give them the tiebreaker edge with one meeting left. In a 101-87 loss to Charlotte on Nov. 25, the Wizards only scored six points in the fourth quarter.

John Wall (23 points, 10 assists) led the Wizards (22-27) followed by Bradley Beal (22 points), Otto Porter (20 points), Marcin Gortat (11 points, 13 rebounds) and Jared Dudley (10 points).

  • With Wall at the foul line, 2.8 seconds left, no timeouts and down 106-103, he had to make the first free throw but miss the second. He accomplished the first feat but botched the second. Wall slammed the ball off the backboard which is a violation. He had to hit the iron to give Drew Gooden and Gortat a chance at the putback to tie the score. Wall was caught by Batum's screen to free Lin for the clutch three, seeming surprised on the after-timeout play in which Lin buried an open shot on the dribble handoff.
  • The Hornets went on a 16-2 run to take the lead 68-66 on a putback dunk from Batum. The pace and movement went out of Washington's offense which only could get jump shots and not easy buckets in transition. Gary Neal came in to give them a shot in the arm and he missed an off-balance jumper fading to his right and then hit the back rim on a three-point shot. Neal was 1 of 7 in 15 minutes. But this game was lost when the Wizards allowed a 10-1 run entering halftime. They led just 58-48 when it should've been much greater.
  • Playing in his first set of back-to-back games since his stress injury Dec. 9, Beal came off the bench to control his minutes after playing 32 on Friday. He had seven points in eight minutes through the first three quarters and dropped in 15 in the fourth quarter. Beal isn't settling for long jump shots and instead has been keeping his dribble alive and using hesitation moves to create opening as he did with his pullup over Williams to cut the deficit to 101-100. He played a total of 20 minutes.
  • Porter, who had reached just double figures once in the previous five games, had 17 points in the second quarter alone. With Beal still being restricted with his minutes, the Wizards must have him as a reliable third scoring option to take pressure off Wall to do everything. Porter had eight rebounds and four steals, too, showing the activity that he lacked in the last game vs. the Sixers. But he was invisible in the second half where he only scored two points and made a significant error. In a two-possession game with more than enough time left and Charlotte overplaying the three-point line, Porter forced a three-pointer that required him to double clutch. If he'd put the ball on the floor and driven to the basket, the lane was there.
  • Dudley had a hot start as he made 4 of 5 shots but was a non-factor after that in 27 minutes. 

MORE WIZARDS: Sessions dishes to Porter for and-1

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Wizards have big questions to answer coming out of All-Star break

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Wizards have big questions to answer coming out of All-Star break

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes and Chris Miller look ahead to the biggest questions the Wizards need to answer after the All-Star break. They also explain why Bradley Beal proved a lot in his first All-Star Game appearance.

They also unveiled a new segment involving guessing Wizards players based on their social media captions.

You can listen to the episode 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!

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Biggest storylines for Wizards coming out of the All-Star break center around John Wall

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Biggest storylines for Wizards coming out of the All-Star break center around John Wall

The Wizards experienced a wild ride before the All-Star break, but came out of it on solid ground, fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 33-24 record. With 27 games still remaining until the postseason, here is a look at the biggest storylines moving forward...

Who will they sign?

The Wizards are close to signing a new player as they were left with open roster spots following the trade deadline when they dealt guard Sheldon Mac to Atlanta for a second round pick. The Wizards have keyed in on the backup point guard position and are likely to go in that direction with the move. But they could still be in the market for other players, possibly someone at the backup wing position, even if they sign a point guard.

The Wizards only have a few days left to make a move because they need to get their roster to 14 players within 14 days of the Mac trade on Feb. 8. Their next game is on Thursday against the Cavaliers, so they could have someone in the building in time to play in that game.

RELATED: WIZARDS DID WELL IN FIRST HALF DESPITE OBSTACLES

When will Wall return?

Wall had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Jan. 31 and was prescribed a recovery timeline of six-to-eight weeks, meaning he still has about another three weeks to go before a return is possible. It could be another five weeks before he's back on the court. That puts him in the range of missing another 10-to-17 games.

The Wizards have played nine games since he went down and have won seven of them, but they aren't even halfway there yet. They have a long way to go. Because it's Wall and his return will have a domino effect, this is the most important storyline to watch for the Wizards moving forward.

How will Wall fit back in?

Wall's return will of course be a big deal for the Wizards. They will be adding an All-Star back into their lineup with just weeks before the start of the playoffs. But at the moment, they have a good thing going and are playing much better than they were in the last week or two before he was shut down. That, of course, had a lot to do with Wall playing injured.

It will be interesting if the Wizards are still winning at anything close to their current rate when Wall comes back. That would be the ideal scenario because they could ease him back into the lineup and take their time getting him up to speed. But it will also create a complex situation for head coach Scott Brooks, who will need to make adjustments to his rotation. The alternative would be if the Wizards aren't playing well when Wall returns and the concern there would be the urge to rush him back in any capacity.

PODCAST: BREAKING DOWN THE WIZARDS' FIRST HALF

Tough schedule

The Wizards have fared quite well for themselves so far with a 33-24 record despite injuries to Wall, Markieff Morris and Otto Porter to varying degrees. But they have done so while enjoying the easiest schedule in the NBA, 30th out of 30 teams. It is about to get a lot tougher coming out of the All-Star break.

All in the next five weeks the Wizards will see the Cavs, Bucks, Warriors, Raptors, Pacers (twice), Timberwolves, Celtics, Spurs (twice) and the Nuggets. Of their next 17 games, 15 will be against teams currently in the playoff picture. They could be without Wall for all of them. That won't be easy.

Can Oubre get back on track?

While Wall has been out, just about everyone on the Wizards has stepped their games up to compensate. Though he still impacts games in other ways, Kelly Oubre, Jr. has been one exception on offense. In his last 11 games, Oubre has averaged 9.4 points and shot just 31.2 percent from the field and 23.2 percent from three. In his previous 46 games, he averaged 12.4 points while shooting 44.9 percent from the field and 40.5 percent from three.

That is a major difference and the Wizards certainly want to get the early-season version of Oubre back. At his best he is one of their most consistent scorers and an excellent three-point shooter. When he's contributing on both ends of the floor, the Wizards are tough to beat.

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