Wizards

No. 13 Gonzaga beats Baylor 94-87

No. 13 Gonzaga beats Baylor 94-87

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) Kevin Pangos made seven 3-pointers and scored 31 points to lead No. 13 Gonzaga past Baylor 94-87 on Friday night.

Kelly Olynyk scored 21 for Gonzaga (12-1), Elias Harris had 17 and Gary Bell Jr. added 12. The Bulldogs shot 52 percent from the field on 31 of 59 shooting. Pangos made 10 of 13 shots and finished two points shy of his career-high.

Pierre Jackson led Baylor (8-4) with 26 points, Isaiah Austin, a 7-foot-1 220-pound freshman, had 20 and Cory Jefferson added 13. The Bears also shot 52 percent for the game, but attempted 21 fewer free-throws than Gonzaga.

Gonzaga didn't hold a lead until the 4:53 mark of the first half. But once they got the lead, they were determined not to relinquish it. The Bulldogs never trailed after halftime and led by as many as 12.

Gonzaga drew two quick fouls on Austin after halftime and he went to the bench with three fouls. Harris' bucket and free-throw made it 47-38 Gonzaga.

Baylor made its first three 3-point attempts of the second half, two by Jackson, and cut the deficit to 49-44. Jackson entered the contest as the scoring leader in the Big 12, averaging 19 points and 6.3 assists.

Pangos' second 3-pointer of the second half extended Gonzaga's lead to 62-50 with 12:12 left. Pangos and Olynyk combined to score 15 straight Gonzaga points over a five minute span.

Jackson and Austin made back-to-back 3-pointers and Baylor stayed within reach at 62-56. Austin showed off his versatile skills, making shots from inside the paint, outside the 3-point line and mid-range jumpers.

Taurean Prince scored four quick points and drew a charge, leading to a Austin jumper on the other end and Baylor pulled within five with 9:39 left.

Baylor didn't get any closer.

Gonzaga's defense did not allow a Baylor run of more than five points over the final 10 minutes of the game.

The first half was a different story as Baylor jumped out to a 8-2 lead in the opening minutes of the game. Gonzaga made three consecutive 3-pointers to tie the game at 13. Jackson scored six straight points for Baylor and the Bears pushed their lead to 24-18.

A Gary Bell Jr. floater in the lane gave Gonzaga its first lead of the game at 30-28 with 4:53 remaining in the half. Bell's bucket sparked a 9-0 Gonzaga run.

Austin's baseline jumper ended a four minute scoring drought for Baylor and cut Gonzaga's lead to 34-30 with 3:28 left. Gonzaga led 38-33 at the break.

Gonzaga made five 3-points in the first half and attempted nine more free-throws than Baylor. The Bears shot 48 percent and the Bulldogs made 12 of 30 shot attempts.

The Gonzaga crowd wasn't its usual rowdy self, partially because most of the students were away during semester break. Gonzaga is 112-8 in the McCarthey Athletic Center.

Earlier this month, Baylor ended Kentucky's 55-game home winning streak at Rupp Arena.

Baylor was Gonzaga's fourth matchup against a Big 12 Conference school this season. The Zags have defeated West Virginia, Oklahoma and No. 25 Kansas State. Gonzaga travels to Stillwater on Monday to face No. 22 Oklahoma State.

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Wizards coach Scott Brooks issues strong defense of John Wall after win over Clippers

Wizards coach Scott Brooks issues strong defense of John Wall after win over Clippers

After his team showed resilience in erasing a 24-point lead to beat the L.A. Clippers on Tuesday night, head coach Scott Brooks swept aside an opportunity to fire back at critics of himself and his team following a barrage of negative headlines in recent days.

Brooks did, however, take the time to address one particular angle of the whole mess. He issued a passionate defense of his star point guard, John Wall, who has been at the center of the controversies surrounding the organization.

Brooks and Wall had an altercation last week during practice that led to Wall receiving a fine from the team. Brooks spoke at length about the incident itself at shootaround. After Tuesday's win, he honed in on a specific criticism of Wall, that he is out of shape and not giving an honest effort on the floor.

"John, he's been taking hits. Let's face it," Brooks said. "You hear all the reports that he's heavy. The guy has seven percent body fat..."

"He's in great shape. I like the way he plays. He plays hard."

Brooks went on to point out how Wall hasn't been playing at 100 percent for much of this season. Wall has dealt with a deep thigh bruise and it's partly to explain for the Wizards' 6-11 start.

The overall numbers look about how they should for Wall.

He's averaging 21.5 points, 7.9 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.2 blocks while shooting 44.4 percent from the field. But his defense has been lacking and he's not getting the assists he usually collects because he hasn't had the same burst in transition.

Playing through injuries is always tricky for professional athletes. When people know they're hurt, that effort is often appreciated. But when the injuries aren't disclosed, fans and members of the media can only draw conclusions based on what they see.

Brooks explained in detail why he thinks Wall should be cut some slack for his start to the season.

"He's a warrior. There's a lot of guys that I've seen in my playing career that they love to sit out. They're just talented and they've got talented contracts. They sit out and you can't do anything about it. You admire and you appreciate and you celebrate the guys that play hard. You don't have to tell the world that he's banged up," Brooks said.

"He didn't say one word and I wasn't gonna say it. It's over. He's feeling great. He's fought. He's not gonna tell the world 'look at me, I'm sore.' He doesn't want your sympathy. He just fights and he plays the right way. He plays hard."

Brooks is clearly trying to stick up for his star player and change the current media narrative.

As long as the Wizards win, that shouldn't be hard to do.

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Emotional John Wall opens up about trade rumors, coming arrival of son after comeback win

Emotional John Wall opens up about trade rumors, coming arrival of son after comeback win

The subject of trade rumors and reports of in-fighting at Wizards practice over the past few days, John Wall proved his worth to the Wizards on the court Tuesday night. 

Washington trailed the Clippers by as many as 24 points, but Wall helped orchestrate a furious comeback which concluded in a 125-118 Washington win. Wall led all scorers with 30 points and dished out eight assists. 

After the game, Wall opened up to NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller about the cloud of controversy which has surrounded the Wizards this week, as well as a far more serious matter in his personal life: he's gonna be a dad soon!

"It's amazing, man. All the heart and effort and drive I've had for this organization, this team, to hear certain things like being traded, I try to stay focused," he told Miller. "Focused on getting ready to have my new son, trying to turn this organization around, this franchise around and win some games."

"All it is is go out there and compete, dog. All of us go out here and compete, that's one thing I always did since day one is give everything I got. And to hear those type of things, it's kind of funny. It's frustrating at the same time, but I've been through worse things. I just stand over top of all that."

And as his coach, Scott Brooks, has been preaching over the last few weeks, Wall believes the only way the Wizards turn around their season is if they show one thing: effort. 

"It's just about effort, man. Effort and heart," he said. "I've been preaching that since I've been here from day one, and in the second half we gave a lot of effort and heart. That's why we came back and fought hard, and got a great win that we needed."

"In the first half, we didn't play with no energy, no sense of urgency, and they beat the brakes off of us. We got to find a way to dig deep, and we made some big shots and got some big stops."

"It's not where we want to be, it's not where we started. Dealing with injuries, dealing with those type of things, you make no excuses. Whoever step between these lines, you go out there and compete, and that's all I ask for the14 guys, including myself, is to go play hard.

It's far too early to declare it as such, but if the Wizards can build off of Tuesday's performance, it may very well be looked at as the night Wall and Washington turned their season around. 

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