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Wizards edge Grizzlies, but barely, in John Wall's return to lineup

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Wizards edge Grizzlies, but barely, in John Wall's return to lineup

The Washington Wizards beat the Memphis Grizzlies 93-87 on Wednesday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Wall returned: The Wizards had John Wall back on Wednesday night for the first time after a nine-game absence and he helped lead them to a win over the Grizzlies, despite the fact he was restriced to just 28 minutes. Wall played decent with 13 points (6-for-15 FG) and four assists, but his return wasn't enough to solve everything for the Wizards, who are in a considerable rut at the moment.

They once again let a lesser team give them a real challenge. This time the Wizards were able to win after not being as lucky in their previous two games, but a six-point win over the 8-20 Mike Conley-less Grizzlies is no major achievement.

The Grizzlies have lost 16 of their last 17 games, yet they battled back from down 17 points to take a two-point lead, their first of the game, at 67-65 with 8:53 left. The Wizards would pull away with a 13-0 run sparked by threes from Mike Scott and Bradley Beal. They are now 15-13 on the season.

As for Wall, he took a while to get going but once he did he reminded the Wizards what they were missing. Wall had nine points in the second quarter, including a three and one of his trademark lefty dunks:

Wall can get past anyone, even when he's in the first game back from two knee procedures.

[PODCAST: NBA REPORTER DAVID ALDRIDGE TALKS WIZARDS]

Satoransky still in the rotation: One interesting byproduct of Wall's return is what head coach Scott Brooks does with Tomas Satoransky, who played well in a backup role during Wall's absence. We got that answer quickly in the first quarter when it was Satoransky and not Tim Frazier who came in first to spell Wall.

Satoransky was okay, he had three points, two assists and four fouls in 15 minutes. But the fact he played more minutes (15) than Frazier (five) is telling. The second unit thrived with Satoransky running point when Wall was out and Satoransky seemed to play well enough to earn a larger role.

That may end up forcing him to play some shooting guard or small forward, but for one night he was still getting point guard minutes. Whether he has officially earned Brooks' trust yet or not remains to be seen. The leash could be short, as we've seen the past two years.

No offense: The first half of this one was not one for those who like scoring. The Wizards had a so-so half with 41 points on 41.9 percent shooting, but the Grizzlies were absolutely dreadful. They had 12 points in the first quarter and 17 in the second to total 29 at the half.

The 12 points in the first were the fewest allowed by the Wizards in a quarter this season. The 29 points at halftime were the fewest the Wizards have surrendered in a half since 2012. The Wizards deserve some credit for their defense, as Memphis shot just 27.8 percent in the first half, but the Grizzlies are generally terrible on offense. They entered the game 29th in the NBA in points per game.

Mahinmi, Morris out: Just when they got Wall back, the Wizards saw another starter go down with an injury. Morris was held out with a sore right hip and Scott started in his place. It's unclear if the hip injury is related to anything else he's dealt with in recent months, between a sprained left ankle and sports hernia surgery, but it wouldn't be surprising.

Ian Mahinmi missed his second straight game with a right knee strain. Brooks said before the game that Mahinmi had a clean MRI, so he likely won't be out long.

Scott keeps balling: Moving from the bench to the starting lineup didn't slow Scott, who continues to be on fire. He had 10 points and five rebounds and shot 4-for-7 from the field and 2-for-4 from three. Over his last five games, Scott has 58 points and has shot 25-for-33. That'll do. 

The fact the Wizards signed him to a veteran's minimum continues to amaze.

Up next: The Wizards get a much-needed day off Thursday with no game and no practice. They pick back up on Friday night by hosting the Clippers, who beat them on Saturday in L.A. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

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Scott Brooks feels good about John Wall and Bradley Beal's All-Star chances

Scott Brooks feels good about John Wall and Bradley Beal's All-Star chances

Voting for the 2018 NBA All-Star Game's starters is now closed and though they have not fared well with fan ballots, the chances Wizards guards John Wall and Bradley Beal are picked as reserves seem good.

The All-Star reserves are chosen by NBA head coaches and Wizards head coach Scott Brooks thinks the Wizards should have two representatives.

"They're definitely both having All-Star years," Brooks said. "I can't vote for either one, but they are definitely in my mind two of the best guards in the East."

Wall, 27, is averaging 19.9 points and leads the Eastern Conference with 9.3 assists per game. He also leads all NBA guards with 1.1 blocks per game.

Bradley Beal, 24, is seventh in the East with 23.7 points per game and third among Eastern Conference guards. He is averaging a career-high 4.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.

[PODCAST: MIDSEASON AWARDS FOR MVP, BEST WIN AND MORE]

The 25-19 Wizards are currently in the playoff picture, which should help their cause for two All-Stars. But there is a lot of competition at the guard position.

Beal has done plenty to make the case he should be a first-time All-Star. He leads the Wizards in points and has played in every one of their games.

What could hold Wall back is that his numbers are down from last season and the fact he missed 11 games due to injury.

Brooks, though, thinks he should be in there and that it shouldn't be all that close.

"I think John is the best point guard in the East," he said.

Wall is certainly up there among the best point guards in the conference. His competition would be guys like Kyrie Iriving, Kyle Lowry and maybe Ben Simmons. Wall is a more versatile player than Irving and has better numbers than Lowry or Simmons.

The All-Star starters are announced on Jan. 18 and the full rosters will be revealed on Jan. 23. We'll see if Wall and Beal make the cut.

[PODCAST: BRADLEY BEAL ON HIS GROWTH AS A LEADER]

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' tough loss to Bucks including John Wall's circus shot

5 must-see moments from Wizards' tough loss to Bucks including John Wall's circus shot

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Wizards' 104-95 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday afternoon...

1. John Wall came out swinging in the first half with 22 points, 16 of them in the first quarter alone. 

This was one of his best plays. Wall split two defenders and then flipped it in off the glass:

Wall finished with 27 points, nine assists, four rebounds, three steals and two blocks. 

2. Kelly Oubre, Jr. led the Wizards' bench with 19 points, five rebounds and a block. He missed on this play, but nearly dunked on Giannis Antetokounmpo. That would have been something:

[PODCAST: MIDSEASON AWARDS FOR MVP, BEST WIN AND MORE]

3. Oubre did get this one to go down. He popped a three at the buzzer to end the third quarter:

4. Wall had some nice passes including this alley-oop lob to Tomas Satoransky. Sato got way up there:

Satoransky also threw down this alley-oop pass earlier thrown by Bradley Beal:

5. This last play was by the Bucks and it was not something you see every day. Antetokounmpo fired an assist through his legs like a longsnapper:

The Wizards lost a close one. Now they head to Charlotte to begin a five-game road trip.

[PODCAST: BRADLEY BEAL ON HIS GROWTH AS A LEADER]