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Morning tip: John Wall keeps focus on Wizards' lax effort


Morning tip: John Wall keeps focus on Wizards' lax effort

Taking undermanned or downtrodden opponents for granted has been a long-standing problem for the Wizards, and losing tonight's game with the Brooklyn Nets would put an abrupt end to any hopes of sneaking into the playoffs. For John Wall, that all falls on the players (CSN, CSNmidatlantic.com and NBC Sports Live Extra, 6:30 p.m. ET).

The Wizards (37-40) must win their last five just to have a legitimate shot of being a No. 8 seed, and though they beat Brooklyn by 15 in their only meeting it promises nothing while the Nets have shut down Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young for the season.

"It's about effort. That's all it is in my opinion. Following the game plan we have and guard your man one-on-one. That's it," said Wall as the Wizards play at Verizon Center for the first time since March 25. "When you don't have pick-and-rolls and stuff, it's about guarding your man one-on-one and when you do get guys to miss shots, got to get the rebound. We don't go a great job of rebounding the ball at times. We get in bad situations where we give up wide-open threes and wide-open layups and on the other end it's tough for us to get those."

The last time the Wizards were at home, they blew a late lead and lost in double-overtime to the Minnesota Timberwolves. They've had terrible home losses to the N.Y. Knicks and L.A. Lakers also and went 2-3 on a West coast trip when they fell to the 29-win Sacramento Kings who scored 120.

"We're a team that can score. That's something we had problems with in the past. We couldn't score. So we had to defend so well. Now we can score a little bit we don't defend as well," said Wall, referring to the previous two playoff runs and even the 29-win season in 2012-13 when they still were a top 10 scoring defense. "That's why we got the record we have. We can't outscore people. We try to outscore certain teams and it never pans out that way. We always end up losing those games. When we don't try to outscore these teams that can score the ball very well and we defend, we win those games. Simple as that because it keeps going back and forth all season."

MORE WIZARDS: Wall among nominees for prestigious NBA community service award

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Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Associated Press

Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Bradley Beal may have had a slow start in the three-point contest on Saturday night, but in Sunday's All-Star Game he worked quickly to make the most of his relatively small window of playing time.

Beal checked in for the first time with 5:45 left in the first quarter and less than 25 seconds later had his first points on a two-handed dunk assisted by LeBron James.

In his All-Star debut, Beal helped lead Team LeBron to a 148-145 victory over Team Stephen as the league utilizied a new format for the annual showcase.


Beal finished with 14 points and a steal in a productive night. He shot 5-for-10 from the field and an impressive 4-for-8 from long range. 

Beal also tried to get a travelling call from the refs on Karl-Anthony Towns. Yeah, that's not likely to happen in an All-Star Game:

Beal more than held his own and only played 16 minutes, which was good considering he has logged the fifth-most minutes of any player so far this season. A realistic best-case scenario was a strong showing and a short night and that's exactly what he got.

Not only does Beal play a lot of minutes, the Wizards need him now more than ever with John Wall's injury. He needs whatever rest he can get during this All-Star break.

Speaking of Wall, he was in the house despite being in the middle of his rehab from left knee surgery. Per usual, Wall was shining bright:


The All-Star Game wasn't all about Beal, of course. Here are some other things that stood out...

*The new format and increased financial incentive were intended to make the game more competitive and that's what happened late in the fourth quarter. Usually, that's how these things go where the players will start trying at the end. But this time it seemed to be up a few levels and it was fun to watch. 

Both teams scored in the 140s, so it wasn't exactly a defensive battle. No matter what the league does, the players will only try so hard for so long. The main goal of everyone's is to not get injured in a game that ultimately doesn't count for anything. Still, this was different and appears to have been a success.

*While everyone was focusing on the reunion of LeBron and Kyrie Irving the best beef was Joel Embiid vs. Russell Westbrook. Those two have traded waves to taunt each other at the end of wins in head-to-head matchups and it was clear on Sunday they still don't like each other. Westbrook tried to dunk all over Embiid in the first half, only to get blocked at the rim.

Westbrook's determination to dunk on Embiid was out of the ordinary for an All-Star Game. It was obvious what was on his mind:

*Irving's handles are simply ridiculous. Check out this fake behind-the-back move he pulled with Giannis Antetkounmpo guarding him. Yes, it didn't fool the defender but it was impressive nonetheless:

*LeBron is 33 years old, yet he was still running up and down the court faster than anyone and leaping above the rim to thrown down alley-oop after alley-oop. It is truly amazing and everyone should enjoy watching him while they can, regardless of whether they like the guy or not.

This was one of his dunks:

LeBron took home MVP with a game-high 29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and a steal.

*The pregame show was quite bad. It was anchored by comedians Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle and, though they had some funny jokes, it lasted nearly 30 minutes. The whole thing was pretty much universally panned on social media. Fergie's national anthem was also roasted by the masses.

*The halftime show was much better. It began with N.E.R.D taking it back to their older days with 'Lapdance,' went to Migos performing 'Stir Fry' and swung back to N.E.R.D. who did their latest hit 'Lemon.' 


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The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

Whoever put together the NBA All-Star Game player introductions has some 'splainin to do. 

The NBA introduced a kinda-full Staples Center to their 2018 All-Stars about an hour ago, and boy was it weird. There were a lot of dancers in different themed costumes. Kevin Hart was screaming. Rob Riggle was screaming. Ludacris showed up? Hey! Did you know that the Barenaked Ladies are still a band? The NBA would like you to know they're still around.  The whole thing was like when you're at an art museum and you're told that abstract piece in the corner is actually really meaningful but you gotta be honest, you don't get it. 

Anyways, the internet hated it. Here are some highlights from the internet hating it:

The lesson here is that you never need Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle. One will do.