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Is Wall ready for breakout season?

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Is Wall ready for breakout season?

Its been 27 years now, but Wizards coach Randy Wittman can still remember the feeling he had entering his third season in the NBA.

All of a sudden that third year was lights out, lets go, Wittman recalled. There are no surprises any more. I know what I have to do to be a good player in this league.

Wittman proved it, scoring a career-high 1,043 points for the Atlanta Hawks that 1985-86 season. And he believes 22-year-old John Wall is ready to have that same breakout season in his third year with the Wizards.

This is a big year for him, Wittman told a room full of reporters Wednesday at Verizon Center. Its time to take that next step.

Taken first overall by the Wizards in the 2010 NBA draft, Walls numbers in his first two years in the NBA were almost identical. After averaging 16.4 points, 8.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game as a rookie, Wall averaged 16.3 points, 8 assists and 1.4 steals per game in his second season.

Wall improved his shooting percentage from just under 41 percent as a rookie to just over 42 percent in Year 2 and Wittman believes Walls willingness to work with a shooting coach for most of the summer will pay big dividends when he and the Wizards open training camp on Tuesday at George Mason University.

A lot of times, whether its through your agent or through your family or friends, you hear a lot of different messages, Wittman said. Your brother might tell you one thing. Your mother might tell you another. Your agents telling you youre crazy.

I think it was beneficial for John to have repetition to be consistent. Hes still going to go through some tough shooting nights, no question about it. The key is trying to get him better and more consistent. If we can do that it will help elevate his game.

With eight players on the Wizards roster with two or fewer years of NBA experience, Wittman said the key is getting his young players to understand the work that is involved with turning his team from an Eastern Conference cellar dweller to one that can make a serious run at a playoff spot.

A lot of these kids that come into the league, theyre hearing one thing, Man, its great, Wittman said. You made the NBA, youre going to have a lot of money, youre going to have a big house, youre going to have a lot of cars.

Nobody tells them how hard its going to be. They dont hear that, so they dont know. Its not a knock against any of them. Its just that they dont hear those things and when it comes to that point, wow, its really difficult.

Wittman says many of his players faced that challenge for the first time in their careers last season, when they saw their coach fired and their season end well out of playoff contention. The key, he says, is whether they learned from their experience.

Who do you have when it gets difficult? Wittman asked. Are you going to have someone who steps over that line and digs in deeper? Or someone who says, Nobody told me about this. This isnt for me. Thats what were trying to put together here.

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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