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Wall dealing with strain from shoulder and turnovers against Hawks


Wall dealing with strain from shoulder and turnovers against Hawks

John Wall and the Wizards know too many turnovers put a strain on their offense against the Hawks this season. Facing Atlanta in the playoffs with a right shoulder strain is just something the point guard knows he must deal with starting with Game 1 on Sunday.

Wall and the Wizards headed to Atlanta Saturday afternoon after wrapping up one final practice at the Verizon Center. Washington hasn't played since finishing off a 4-0 series sweep against the Toronto Raptors with a rousing 125-96 victory last Sunday. That's given the team time to tighten up their game, prep for the top-seeded Hawks and rest. Wall suffered a shoulder injury during the opening game against the Raptors. Not that his performance suffered. The All-Star averaged 19.6 points and 14.0 assists over the final three games.

"It's all right. It (will) be all right," Wall said of his right shoulder. "I have a little strain in it and it's something I have to deal with, but you make no excuses when you're in the playoffs."

The Wizards were direct when discussing their turnover woes against the Hawks this season. Washington averaged 17.5 turnovers in the four games compared to 10.8 for Atlanta.

"Doesn’t matter if we’re playing Atlanta or Toronto or whoever, that’s not a good number for us to have," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "The big thing in this series is to get shots. That’s what our mentality’s got to be, to get a shot every time down the floor."

Getting up shots starts with the point guard and Wall struggled maintaining possession against the Hawks. He committed a whopping 6.8 turnovers per game. That's three more than his regular season average and the most for Wall against any team this season. Typically matched up directly against fellow All-Star guard Jeff Teague, Wall had games with seven, eight and 10 (in a win) turnovers against Atlanta this season. 

"They're just great with their hands," he said of the Hawks defenders. "You have to make simple reads against them in pick-and-roll situations. When you get into the paint, they're all using their hands to swipe down on the ball."

The turnovers don't just take away shot attempts for Washington, but also fuels Atlanta's offensive push, leading to open 3-point looks. The Hawks attempted 26.2 shots from beyond the arc during the regular season and ranked second with a 38 percent clip.

"They feed off their defense to get them going in transition," Wall noted. "That's when they find (Kyle) Korver and DeMarre) Carroll and all those guys to make open shots."

The Wizards still had stretches with too many turnovers against the Raptors, but so much else worked it didn't matter. Washington harassed Toronto's perimeter threats defensively and drained plenty of shots from deep with Wall spearheading the effort on both ends of the court.

"I think we're just playing more confident," Wall said about whether the Wizards are a different team compared to the one the Hawks handled. "I think whenever we play defense and we're not turning the ball over a lot, contest shots, rebound the ball as a group, I think we're a tough team."

[MORE WIZARDS: Playoff preview: Wizards-Hawks matchup set]

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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.