Wizards top Timberwolves 114-101 in 1st Wall start


Wizards top Timberwolves 114-101 in 1st Wall start

WASHINGTON (AP) John Wall had 14 points and five assists in his first start of the season, and the no-longer-last Washington Wizards finally hit double digits in wins Friday night with a 114-101 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Wall, who came off the bench for the first seven games after his return from a knee injury, had assists on the Wizards' first two baskets in a game in which Washington never trailed. He wowed the crowd with a nice spin move for a layup late in the first half and went 6 for 10 from the field in 21 minutes, his playing time still limited after missing 33 games with a stress injury to his left knee cap.

The Wizards are 5-3 since Wall's return after going 5-28 without him. They've won four straight at home and no longer sit at the bottom of the NBA, their 10-31 record a half-game better than the Charlotte Bobcats' 10-32.

Jordan Crawford added 19 points, and Bradley Beal had 16 points and a career-high four blocks for the Wizards, who shot a season-high 58 percent. Beal had the best sequence for anyone not named Wall: The rookie chased down Luke Ridnour to block a fast-break layup, crashed into the front row, got up and hit a jumper at the other end to make the score 70-51 in the third.

Derrick Williams had 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Andrei Kirilenko scored 17 points for the Timberwolves, who have lost six straight on the road and eight of nine overall. Ricky Rubio, who, like Wall, has been playing limited minutes after returning from a knee injury, had four points, six assists, five rebounds and five turnovers, a day after apologizing to acting coach Terry Porter for an outburst over the team's loss earlier this week to the Brooklyn Nets.

Rubio was upset that he sat out the final minutes of the Timberwolves' 91-83 loss Wednesday night. With head coach Rick Adelman away tending to his sick wife, Porter and Rubio met Thursday to clear the air.

``I don't think it ever was really an issue,'' Porter said. ``He was frustrated like any player would be who wants to be playing the fourth quarter.''

Rubio had been on a strict limit of 28 minutes per game since returning last month from reconstructive left knee surgery, but he played 31 minutes Friday night for the depleted Timberwolves, who are missing Kevin Love, Brandon Roy, Malcolm Lee, Chase Budinger, Nikola Pekovic and Alexey Shved - all with injuries.

The Wolves never made anything resembling a run to get back in the game after the first quarter. The Wizards led by four after the first, by 18 at halftime and by 18 after three.

Notes: Washington's 60 first-half points tied a season-high. ... The Wolves got to the free-throw line without much problem, but they converted only 20 of 33. ... With Wall's return to the starting five, the Wizards used their 15th starting lineup of the season. ... Wolves C Greg Stiemsma committed two fouls in 9 seconds in the first quarter, then picked up another quick one in the second quarter. He played only 18 minutes - but he finished with a career-high six assists.


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Caps recall goalie Pheonix Copley after Braden Holtby 'tweaked something' in Dallas game


Caps recall goalie Pheonix Copley after Braden Holtby 'tweaked something' in Dallas game

You thought the Caps had a goalie rotation before, but now they have added a third netminder in the mix.

Pheonix Copley has been recalled from the Hershey Bears and will backup Philipp Grubauer for Washington's game in Detroit, the team announced Thursday.

The move comes in response to an injury concern for Braden Holtby.


Dallas Stars forward Remi Elie collided with Holtby midway through the third period on Tuesday as Holtby was extending to make a save. Holtby reacted awkwardly to the collision and could be seen skating and flexing his leg during the next stoppage.

With only nine games remaining in the regular season, Holtby's injury is a major concern. Given his recent struggles, the final few weeks of the season offered a chance for Holtby to get his game back to form. Just where his game will be when he is 100-percent healthy again is certainly a storyline to watch.


The good news for Washington, however, is that Grubauer is perhaps more ready this season to lead the team than he ever has been and confidence in him around the team should be high.

Since Thanksgiving, Grubauer has played in 22 games with a 17-11-4 record, a .939 save percentage, 1.85 GAA and two shutouts. No goalie who has played in 20 games or more has registered a better save percentage or GAA. He will certainly be looked upon to carry the load until Holtby returns. Whether this means he now has the inside track on starting in the playoffs, however, remains to be seen. That will depend largely on just when Holtby is ready to return and how Grubauer plays down the stretch.

Copley, 26, has gone 14-16-6 with two shutouts, a .898 save percentage and 2.86 GAA in 38 games in Hershey this season. He was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by Washington in 2014. He was traded to the St. Louis Blues in the package that netted the Caps T.J. Oshie, but was reacquired by Washington in Feb. 2017 in a trade deadline deal that included Kevin Shattenkirk.

At the time, it was believed Copley would be the team's backup for the 2017-18 season with Grubauer likely headed to Vegas in the expansion draft. Vegas, however, took Nate Schmidt instead which led to Copley spending the season in Hershey. The Caps now will be happy for the extra goalie depth for as long as Holtby's health remains a concern.

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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Washington Wizards

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


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