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John Wall has last word in battle with Knicks' Brandon Jennings

John Wall has last word in battle with Knicks' Brandon Jennings

The plan from Wizards coach Scott Brooks went almost perfectly. He was going to let John Wall play limited minutes in a back-to-back stretch for the first time and come out with two wins. He'll have to settle for 1-1, but his point guard closed out the New York Knicks on Thursday after they mounted a comeback with a 47-point fourth quarter. 

The Wizards (3-8) ended a three-game losing streak and he was able to shut up Brandon Jennings, too. 

"He had a major impact in the first half and I think he only had two points," Brooks said of Wall's 1-for-6 start that blossomed into 6-for-8 in the second half, 23 points and 11 assists. "There are a few players in the league that can impact the game with passing and defense and he is one of them. He did a good job defending, and he makes plays for his teammates and then he got hot. That is what great players do. They read the game, see what the game needs and he delivered."

Wall ran the pick-and-roll with Marcin Gortat to perfection, leading to point-blank finishes at the rim. Having Bradley Beal, who played for the first time after a right hamstring injury kept him out three games, forced the defense to respect the jump pass to the corners. 

Jennings led a spirited effort late. He scored 15 of his 17 points in the fourth where the Knicks trimmed the deficit to single digits on several occasions in the final two minutes. 

Wall, who had a minutes restriction of 32, played 31 after playing 24 in a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday. He had to be reinserted by Brooks at 4:07 to stave off the rally.

Wall had a reverse layup and then drained a pull-up juimp shot in succession. He also made four free throws in a row. 

And what made it even sweeter was that Jennings, who taunted Wizards free agent Casper Ware in a preseason game, was given a dose of his own medicine. Wall clapped in his face just as he'd done Ware knowing Jennings couldn't do anything about it. 

"It was a little back-and-forth talking between both guys," Wall said of his banter with Jennings. "Brandon was kind of hot in the fourth quarter. So we had a little back-and-forth talk."


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

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

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle LeBron James, George Hill, Larry Nance, Jr. and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night.

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


Where: Quicken Loans Arena
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: TNT (pre- and postgame coverage on NBC Sports Washington Plus)
Live stream: TNTdrama.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Back in action

The Wizards return to the court after a week-long layoff due to the All-Star break. Add in the fact that they had three days off before their last game and this will be just the second game for the Wizards in the last 12 days. What is this, football?

The Wizards will try to overcome the rust to keep their momentum going. They entered the All-Star break having won seven of their last nine games. Though the time off was needed due to a wide array of injuries, the Wizards had a good thing going and will aim to recapture that against a good Cavs team.


Tough stretch

The Wizards come back with a game against the Cavs, a difficult first assignment after such a long layoff. But this is just the beginning of what will be a very difficult part of their schedule. In their next 17 games, the Wizards will play 15 times against teams currently holding playoff spots. That includes the Warriors, Celtics, Spurs and Raptors.

The schedule is tough beyond their opponents. Four times in the next three weeks they will play back-to-back games and they have five games in the next seven nights. Hopefully the players recharged their batteries because it won't be easy.


New-look Cavs

The Wizards and Cavs have played twice this season already and Cleveland took both of those matchups. However, that was all before the trade deadline when the Cavs overhauled their roster. They have won all three of their games since and look rejuvenated with younger players.

Now surrounding LeBron James are a host of new faces like George HIll, Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance, Jr. It will be interesting to see how the Wizards match up with this new group.


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Bradley Beal thoroughly impressed by LeBron James after being his teammate at All-Star Game

Bradley Beal thoroughly impressed by LeBron James after being his teammate at All-Star Game

As a member of the Washington Wizards, Bradley Beal has had many battles with LeBron James over the years, first with the Miami Heat and now with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Over the weekend, Beal got to experience having James as a teammate for the first time at the All-Star Game in Los Angeles.

It was an eye-opening endeavor. Beal got to see up close and personal James' abilities and his routine to maximize them. In a group of the best players on the planet, James stood out.

"It was surreal at first, just being around all the guys," Beal said. "Even just being on his team for two days, that was an unbelievable experience."


Beal, 24, is six seasons in to his NBA career and from experience has learned how to train for the rigors of an 82-game regular season. What James does at 33 years old to stay in peak form, however, is next level.

"To see his preparation, his focus and his mentality and what he does to take care of his body before and after games," Beal said. "That's the true testament to a Hall of Famer and one of the best to ever play the game."

James actually assisted Beal's first points in the All-Star Game, a two-handed dunk in the first quarter. James attacked the rim on a fastbreak to draw attention, then found Beal with a dump-off pass for an easy bucket.


It was an example of James' tricks of the trade. He is not just the most athletic player on the court, he is also the smartest when it comes to the game of basketball.

"His approach and his leadership and everything, it's top notch. It's crazy because you always play against him and to play with him, you get experience the other side of it," Beal said.

Beal, however, did note that much of what he gleaned from James was by watching him. At the end of the day, they are competitors and James isn't going to give away all of his secrets.

"He's not disclosing that information," Beal joked.

The Wizards happen to play James and the Cavs in their first game back from the All-Star break on Thursday night. Once again, Beal will be on the other side.