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Livingston back where second act began


Livingston back where second act began

One look at 6-foot-7 Shaun Livingston and you see a size dimension not previously available in the Wizards backcourt. The pass-first point guard's ability to facilitate offense is another trait that's been lacking in Washington without John Wall running the attack. Randy Wittman hopes that won't be the case going forward now that the ex-Wizard is back.

"He gives us a guy that knows how to play, good basketball IQ," the Wizards coach said after Friday's practice and one day after the 27-year-old veteran rejoined the team. Wittman served as an assistant when Livingston played 26 games late in the 2009-10 season for the Wizards. "He’s got a good feel. We’re doing some of the same stuff when he was here before and we had him here. I’m familiar with him, so I thought he had a good practice for the first practice."

For his part Livingston, is simply happy being part of any practice. Traded from Milwaukee to Houston during the summer but released by the Rockets before the start of the regular season, Livingston has been working out in Florida. Now he's back in Washington and prepping for his first game. The Wizards (0-7) host Utah (4-6) Saturday night.

"Feels good. It's an opportunity to play," Livingston said. "Just being anxious. I haven't played yet this year. I'm just anxious to get out there, very anxious. Just gotta get my legs back, get my wind up and I'll be alright."

Playing for six teams over seven seasons, Livingston averaged 6.8 points and 3.5 assists. He credits his previous opportunity in Washington with resurrecting his career.

The fourth overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Clippers - where he played with current Wizards assistant coach Sam Cassell - suffered a devastating left knee injury in 2007. Out for the entire 2007-08 season, the Illinois native's return included brief stints with Miami and Oklahoma City before landing with Washington in 2010.

"It was kind of at the turning point in my career with my knee. I was dealing with the struggles of trying to make the transition back on the court consistently and not a game here, then sit a game," said Livingston, who made 18 starts with the Wizards under former coach Flip Saunders, averaging 9.2 points and 4.4 assists.

"Flip really gave me the chance... the opportunity to play consistent minutes. My knee kind of responded well thank God, and I got a chance to get some confidence in me. Kind of reform my game."

Now he's back, replacing reserve point guard Jannero Pargo.

"I thought we needed to get another playmaker," said Wittman of the roster decision. "Never an easy decision, but one when he became available, I had some familiarity with [him] and I think he can help us."

While Pargo offered more help as a perimeter shooter, Livingston's pure point guard skills and size creates other options for the coach.

"Obviously, you can post him some," Wittman said. "He just knows how to run a team. He knows which guys are hot, how to get them the ball, that type of thing. And the size. I think he gives us good size at that position we haven’t had."

Wittman said Livingston, who joins a position currently manned by starter A.J. Price, was in "fair shape" considering he's missed game action. The pair will direct traffic while also vying for what ultimately figures to be the primary backup role when Wall returns possibly by the end of November.

"I’ve been playing against him for a while now," said Price, a high school contemporary of Livingston. "He’s very good. He’s only going to help the team in my opinion. He’ll give us what we need. I’m not sure how we’ll use him minutes-wise, but a little competition brings out the best in everybody."

After previously wearing number two in Washington, a number now worn by Wall, Livingston will don 14 which at the time was occupied by Al Thornton. Other teams inquired about his availability following his release, but Livingston said, "I think this really gave me the opportunity to be back in a familiar system and get good playing time and get a chance for me to show what I can do out there."

Which is to help a team ranked 27th in scoring generate points.

"Just I think to maximize guy's potential, just the scoring on the wing, low post with Kevin [Seraphin], just trying to get easy buckets as well," Livingston said of his role. I think everything's been kind of hard from what I've watched, been kind if bogged down and hopefully I can help get guys easy buckets. You get a couple easy buckets you get some confidence, get some momentum you'll play a little bit looser."

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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

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 remains 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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