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Animosity between Wall, Crowder requires police to keep peace

Animosity between Wall, Crowder requires police to keep peace

BOSTON -- The security on the court didn't appear to be in hurry to calm tensions that bubbled over after everyone left. And before Wizards coach Scott Brooks said a word, he took excpetion to three Boston police officers stationed in front of his locker room rather than that of the Celtics.

They quickly moved.

It all started because of a spat between Jae Crowder and John Wall. Isaiah Thomas had just lit up the Wizards for 38 points, with 20 coming in the fourth of a 117-108 win for Boston. 

"I was just standing there," said Wall, who was smiling until Crowder confronted him, poked him in the face with his index finger and was slapped in return. "I just said what's up to I.T. and then I was walking back towards my locker room."

Marcus Smart, Kelly Oubre, Markieff Morris, Wall's personal bodyguard, a Wizards team security official and Wizards assistant coach Sidney Lowe among others got in the middle while no one from the arena security intervened. Moments later, in the narrow corridor in which the home and visting teams are in close proximity, all hell almost broke loose again.

Thomas was oblivious to what was going on as he walked down the opposite end of the hallway in a jubilant mood as the Celtics drew even in the season series 1-1. 

"They can't (expletive) with a real killer," he shouted, figuratively speaking in the sporting sense. 

No other blows appeared to be thrown. 

Celtics players wouldn't talk about it after being instructed by coach Brad Stevens to stay tight-lipped. The Wizards, however, had no problem addressing what took place. They had an issue with Crowder a season ago when he clashed on the sideline with then-coach Randy Wittman.

Otto Porter was one of the first players to rush back to the locker room and didn't see the spat between Wall and Crowder, but he gladly dished about his feelings on the Celtics. 

"We've had some past history the last couple of years with those guys," said Porter, who didn't appear to be on the court during the exchange. "They're a physical team. They try to play dirty. They try to take you out your game. Their whole team. That's just how they try to play."

Bradley Beal, who had his nose broken and a concussion after a blow to the head from Smart last season, received a technical foul after becoming entangled with him in this game, too. When the Wizards blew them out by 30 in the first meeting at Verizon Center, a frustrated Wall was ejected for a Flagrant 2 on Smart. 

"It s always chippy with them. It's a phsyical team. Neither one of us likes to be punked," said Beal, who had a team-high 35 points for Washington. "It's just a physical game. That's all it was. It's not my first time behing tangled up with Marcus. He's a tough competitor. I don't think it was a dirty game. There were no crazy fouls or anything like that away from the ball. It was clean. Just a lot of smack talking, trash-talking." 

The usually low-key Morris didn't want any part of it. 

"A lot of woofing going on, for real," he said. "Guys exchanging words. I (don't) about the talk so I don't get around that kind of stuff... As the game went on I felt it was escalating. I didn't know it would be like that towards the end. It just adds fuel to the fire for the next time we play them. We got to keep it between the lines."

[RELATED: Jae Crowder puts finger in John Wall's face, argument ensues]

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Rui Hachimura falls to Devin Booker in NBA 2K Players Tournament

Rui Hachimura falls to Devin Booker in NBA 2K Players Tournament

Coming off a nail-biting win over Donovan Mitchell in the first round, Rui Hachimura lost to Suns star Devin Booker in the quarterfinals of the NBA 2K Players Tournament Thursday night. 

The Wizards' rookie forward played with the Clippers, while Booker went with the Mavericks. Not only did Hachimura have the more talented team in this matchup, but it looked like he had a coach sitting near him the whole time too. 

Hachimura's biggest challenge in this one was finding easy points against Booker's defense. Booker did a good job using his center to close down driving lanes while leaving Hachimura's big men wide open in the corner.

The Clippers bigs aren't great outside shooters, so outside of a few surprising makes from Montrezl Harrell, it was a rough night offensively. Hachimura tried to go with a small-ball lineup with Marcus Morris at the center spot, but then he started giving up way too many offensive rebounds. 

On the flip side when Hachimura tried to do the same thing to Booker, Kristaps Porzingis and Maxi Kleber were able to knock those shots down. That left the door open for Luka Doncic to get open looks and that's how Booker eventually pulled away in the second half. 

It was a good run for Hachimura in the tournament. He knocked off the four-seed in Mitchell and delivered one of the more memorable moments of the first round. He just ran into a buzzsaw in Booker, who may have a decent chance to win the whole thing. 

The semifinals and finals of the 2K Players Tournament will begin on Saturday. 

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GM Tommy Sheppard says Wizards plan to retain Shabazz Napier in free agency

GM Tommy Sheppard says Wizards plan to retain Shabazz Napier in free agency

With the NBA season on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, the extra free time has given teams an opportunity to reflect on the first 64 games of the 2019-20 campaign. 

Whichever direction the league decides to go with returning to play, the 2020 NBA draft and free agency period loom large once the season is over. For the Wizards, they have a pair of key players set to hit the open market: Davis Bertans and Shabazz Napier. 

John Wall's return significantly elevates expectations surrounding the Wizards next season and will make the team's offseason decision-making process that much more important. In the case of Napier and Bertans, Washington's general manager Tommy Sheppard talked highly of both in a Q&A with Dave Johnson Thursday

"I think with [Napier and Bertans], when we acquired them not as rentals we acquired them to stay here," Sheppard said. "I think the players that we acquired, they're here to show that they can be here for the future. With Davis and Shabazz, they showed enough to us that certainly we would love to retain them. We plan to."

What Sheppard had to say about Bertans isn't necessarily new. He maintained the stance all year that the Wizards intended to keep Bertans this summer and held true to it when Washington reportedly turned down offers including first-round picks at the trade deadline. 

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Napier's future with the team, on the other hand, has not been talked about publicly by someone like Sheppard. The Wizards acquired him from the Nuggets in exchange for Jordan McRae at the trade deadline and the six-year veteran appeared in 15 games for Washington before the season was suspended. 

Napier started eight games and averaged 12.2 points, 4.4 assists, 2.4 rebounds and 1.7 steals while shooting 43.1% from the field and 38.1% from three. Based on production alone, it's not that surprising Sheppard wants to bring the former UConn star back. 

However, if the Wizards can re-sign Napier this summer, they'd have quite a lot of viable point guards on their roster going into next season. Wall will be back and Ish Smith will be in the final year of his two-year contract.

Napier would figure to be either the third point guard or Washington's backup shooting guard depending on how you look at things. Then you have to ask how comfortable you are with Napier potentially taking minutes away from Jerome Robinson and ball-handling opportunities from Troy Brown Jr., both young wings the Wizards need to take a step forward next year. 

But shooting and playmaking are at a premium in the NBA today, and as defensively challenged as an Ish Smith-Shabazz Napier backcourt would be off the bench, there's no doubt Washington's second unit would be able to put up a ton of points. 

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