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Wizards-Hornets preview: Who's playing?

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Wizards-Hornets preview: Who's playing?

Matchup: Washington Wizards (10-14) vs. Charlotte Hornets (15-10)

When: Saturday, 6:30 p.m. (TV: CSN+, CSNMidatlantic.com via NBC Sports Live Extra) 

When last we met: In one of the more bizarre games of the season, Washington blew a fourth quarter lead as Charlotte closed with a 25-2 run for a 101-87 home win on Nov. 27. 

Streaks: Washington returns home following a 1-3 Western Conference road trip. The Wizards dropped the final two games by 17 and 19 points at Memphis and San Antonio respectively... Charlotte snapped a two-game losing streak with a 109-99 overtime win at Toronto Thursday behind 35 points from Jeremy Lin.

Three things to watch

1. Who's playing?: John Wall says he's good to go. The point guard participated in Saturday's shootaround after sitting out Friday's practice. Wall revealed he re-sprained the same right ankle that bothered him last month.

"It was a little puffy yesterday. Resting trying to heal up," Wall said Saturday about why he sat out Friday's practice.

His return allowed the Wizards to have 10 players available or practice. Otto Porter (thigh) was sidelined for a second straight day. Drew Gooden, Bradley Beal, Nene and Alan Anderson remain out.

Asked if he felt compelled to play with so many others injured, Wall said, "Somewhat, but when I step between those lines, I'm the type of guy who makes no excuses. If I can't go, then I have to sit out. If I feel like [I can help] my team win and give us a good opportunity, then I can play."

2. Healthy Hornets?: The Wizards are shorthanded and it appeared their Southeast Division rivals would be as well. Already without suspended big man Al Jefferson, Charlotte played Thursday against Toronto without swingman Nic Batum (illness). Signs now point to the Hornets' second-leading scorer suiting up the Wizards.


Batum is averaging 16.5 points and shooting just shy of 40 percent on 3-pointers. "The way they're playing, Batum is a big key to helping them out a lot," Wall said. "ven without Batum, an offseason acquisition, the Hornets defeated the Raptors on the road. That was because Lin, another new piece this season, stepped up.  Guys like Jeremy Lin and Jeremy Lamb. All their young guys stepped up and increased their game this summer. They're spacing the court. Their bigs are able to know down shots and roll. They're just a defensive-minded team.

3. Get stops: As Wall discussed the Hornets, he referred to them as "a defensive-minded team" which is a tag the Wizards received the past few seasons. So far in the 2015-16 campaign, not so much. Washington ranks 26th in points allowed with 106.0 points. Charlotte is tied with Indiana or seventh with 98.6 points per game.

[RELATED: Cousins' name will float around NBA, sink in D.C.]

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2018 NBA All-Star Game: TV and live stream info, rosters, things to watch for dunk contest, three-point contest

2018 NBA All-Star Game: TV and live stream info, rosters, things to watch for dunk contest, three-point contest

The 2018 NBA All-Star Game is here with the annual showcase set for Los Angeles.

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

2018 NBA ALL-STAR GAME

Where: Staples Center
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: TNT
Online with no cable TV: fuboTV (try for free)

ROSTERS

TEAM LEBRON:

Coach: Dwane Casey, Raptors
LeBron James, Cavaliers
Kevin Durant, Warriors
Kyrie Irving, Celtics
Anthony Davis, Pelicans
LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs
Bradley Beal, Wizards
Goran Dragic, Heat
Andre Drummond, Pistons
Paul George, Thunder
Victor Oladipo, Pacers
Russell Westbrook, Thunder
Kemba Walker, Hornets

TEAM STEPHEN:

Coach: Mike D'Antoni, Rockets
Stephen Curry, Warriors
James Harden, Rockets
Joel Embiid, 76ers
DeMar DeRozan, Raptors
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
Jimmy Butler, Timberwolves
Draymond Green, Warriors
Klay Thompson, Warriors
Al Horford, Celtics
Damian Lillard, Blazers
Kyle Lowry, Raptors
Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves

PODCAST: ALL-STAR WEEKEND PREVIEW, WIZARDS AT THE BREAK 

Three things to watch...

New format

The NBA switched it up this season by doing away with the traditional matchup between the East and West. The teams were instead chosen by captains LeBron James and Stephen Curry, the two top vote-getters in All-Star fan voting. The idea was to breath new life into the All-Star Game and hopefully make it more competitive. The league also installed a system where the winners each get $100,000, $75,000 more than the losing team. 

All pro sports leagues struggle drawing interest with their All-Star showcases. They are always trying to get ratings up and this is the latest ploy by the NBA. The new format is definitely intriguing, but whether it will have a major impact on the competition itself is hard to tell. We'll see how the fans respond.

RELATED: JOHN WALL GIVES UPDATE ON HIS REHAB

Reunion time

The teams picked by James and Curry will give fans some throwback combinations with former teammates back together again. Team LeBron is full of them. James will reunite with Kyrie Irving, who essentially forced his way out of Cleveland over the summer after the two combined to reach three straight NBA Finals and win one title.

We will also see Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook play together again. They of course teamed up to win a lot of games with the Oklahoma City Thunder before Durant signed with the Warriors. Westbrook will also be reunited with Victor Oladipo, who was traded from OKC to the Pacers over the summer.

RELATED: WIZARDS/BULLETS HISTORY ON ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

Beal's All-Star debut

Wizards fans will of course be focused on Bradley Beal, who is making his first All-Star appearance. He is Washington's lone representative, as John Wall is still recovering from left knee surgery.

Beal may not get many minutes on a stacked roster of guys who have been in the game before. If that happens, it's probably for the best. Beal is currently fifth in the NBA in total minutes played. He needs the rest if he can get it.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

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Bradley Beal eliminated in first round of three-point contest, Donovan Mitchell wins dunk contest

Bradley Beal eliminated in first round of three-point contest, Donovan Mitchell wins dunk contest

It was a short night for Wizards guard Bradley Beal in the 2018 All-Star three-point contest on Saturday, as he was eliminated in the first round.

Wearing the Wizards' new 'The District' white alternate jersey, Beal shot a 15 and fell short of the top three spots to qualify for the second round. Suns guard Devin Booker won the contest with a 28 score in the final, beating out Klay Thompson of the Warriors and Tobias Harris of the Clippers.

RELATED: BEST WIZARDS/BULLETS MOMENTS ON ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

Beal's was undone by a slow start. He missed all five shots on the first rack and made just one on the second. He began to heat up at the third rack, but by then couldn't recover.

Here is Beal's full round:

This was Beal's second showing in the three-point contest. He finished second back in 2014 and this year said he was motivated to avenge that loss. He should have plenty more opportunities to participate in the future if he chooses.

The NBA's All-Star Saturday night began with Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie winning the skills competition. He beat Bulls big man Lauri Markkanen in the final round.

Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell won the dunk contest. He edged Larry Nance, Jr. of the Cavaliers in the finals.

RELATED: LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT