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Morning tip: Wizards miss chance at more rest for Wall

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Morning tip: Wizards miss chance at more rest for Wall

With 2:17 left in the game with the Portland Trail Blazers, and the Wizards trailing by 17, John Wall finally exited. He'd played 36 minutes two days after a season-high 44.

Not a big deal to many, but considering that the game had long been lost and that Wall has been playing with multiple ailments since the fourth game of the season and is the one player they can't afford to lose, what do the Wizards gain?

Wall had shot 4 of 17 and missed four consecutive mid-range jumpers early in the third quarter. He didn't have the touch. His legs didn't have the same spring. He had nine points, his first game failing to reach double-digits since. Dec. 14.

"I was frustrated. I had the looks that I had ... I wasn't making them. I felt like I was letting my team down," Wall said. "I wouldn't put it on my legs. I had a day off to rest (on Sunday). I just didn't make shots."

A player, especially a proud one like Wall who always feels he has something to prove, isn't going to sit himself down early. But the Wizards (19-21) probably should be more diligent in saving him, focusing on the long game and throwing in the white flag sooner.

They need Wall as fresh as possible with winnable games left in this homestand vs. the Miami Heat tonight, Utah Jazz and Boston Celtics. Win all three, after losing the first two, and they'll be over .500 for the first time in two months.

But coach Randy Wittman is a bit old school. There's always a chance that a team can come back and win if they find a spark but it wasn't happening with Wall in that game Monday. The Blazers led by 24. Such a deficit isn't insurmountable but the Wizards trailed 94-76 entering the fourth quarter. 

"He's played 40 before," Wittman said when asked about Wall's minutes. "We had an off day."

While that's true, the more rest Wall can be given it'll only help. Bradley Beal, coming off a stress reaction in his lower right leg, played six of his 24 minutes in the fourth. Marcin Gortat, recently returned from a left knee infection, logged 11 minutes in the fourth.

It can be argued that Beal, who may or may not have been joking when he said Wittman would "forget" that he's on a minutes restriction and overuse him, and Gortat needed the work to be fine-tune their conditioning after their layoffs. Wall, however, has had no off-time. He has carried the load on both ends without Beal for 16 games so when routs like this happen -- and they will happen to all 30 NBA teams -- this is where the Wizards can be more clever in manufacturing more down time for him.

Rookie Kelly Oubre only played three minutes in the fourth. Jarell Eddie and DeJuan Blair were on the floor two minutes. All three could've used more burn just because time will be hard for them to come by when the roster replenishes with the returns of Drew Gooden, Otto Porter, Alan Anderson and Kris Humphries -- none of whom will be available when the Wizards play the Heat tonight.

MORE WIZARDS: PLAYERS ALREADY RULED OUT FOR MATCHUP WITH MIAMI

Maybe they all would be sharper for Miami as a result. And what if, by a long shot, that unit actually found magic in a bottle and cut into the lead with Portland? It happens. Plus it sends a subtle message to the starters who didn't get the job done.

The Blazers wouldn't have had much information about those little-used reserves on the scouting report and may have been unprepared for the change-up. If the score gets the Wizards back in striking distance, then maybe it's worthwhile going back to Wall to steal one. 

Wall was given off from practice Tuesday. He won't do much of anything at morning shootaround before the game with Miami. Saving him six or seven minutes here or there won't seem like much, but over an 82-game season it adds up. The nature of coaching is to be concerned about the moment and not what-ifs down the road.

The franchise player -- or players if Beal is re-signs this summer -- no matter how much he may object like a fighter who is being told by the chief second that he's stopping the fight, must be protected. And oftentimes, it's from himself.

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Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

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

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

On a roll

The Wizards have some serious momentum going right now. With an impressive win over the Cavs on Thursday, they have now won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. They had a week off due to the All-Star break, but didn't show any rust at all in their first game back.

The Wizards are now 34-24, 10 games above the .500 mark. They are fourth in the East and could move into third on Friday if they win and the Cavaliers lose. Even with Wall out, things continue to look up for Washington.

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Hornets have had their number

The Wizards haven't done so well against the Hornets so far this season. Charlotte has taken both meetings and that includes a 24-point win on Jan. 17. That game featured Dwight Howard taunting the Wizards late in the fourth quarter.

Howard has killed the Wizards through two games with averages of 22.0 points and 14.0 rebounds. Jeremy Lamb (20.0 ppg vs. Wizards) has been a big factor as well as All-Star Kemba Walker (21.5 ppg vs. Wizards).

The last time these teams played about a month ago frustrations boiled over in an incident that got Tim Frazier ejected. Michael Carter-Williams picked a fight with Jason Smith and Frazier went off:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

Hornets coming in hot

The Hornets are outside the playoff picture at the moment at eight games below .500, but they have won two straight games and Walker and Howard are coming off huge games. In a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, Walker dropped 31 points and Howard grabbed 24 rebounds.

Those guys will be riding a high coming into Washington on Friday. But it should be noted that Howard complained after the game how tired he is at this point in the season. That exhausion could affect him more in the second game of a back-to-back.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

 

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 110-103 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night...

1. The Wizards didn't start out well, as they trailed by nine points at the end of the first quarter. Kelly Oubre, Jr. stumbled early by missing four of his first six shots and it looked like a carryover of his slump before the All-Star break.

But Oubre got hot in the second quarter and helped the Wizards turn the game around. This was one of his best plays, a two-handed slam that he celebrated with an emphatic scream to the crowd:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

2. Tomas Satoransky was one of the stars of the game. He had 17 points to go along with eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. 

Here's one of his dimes, a perfect alley-oop lob to Markieff Morris, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds:

3. Satoransky has reached double-figures in six of the 10 games since John Wall went out with an injury. This was a very impressive move, a stepback fadeaway that was super smooth:

RELATED: GET TO KNOW NEW WIZARDS FREE AGENT SIGNING

4. Ian Mahinmi made some key contributions including four offensive rebounds and a steal. This was his best basket, a powerful slam that came at a key time:

5. This play helped seal the victory. It was a smart after-timeout set drawn up by head coach Scott Brooks and it worked to perfection:

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS