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Health of Wall, Beal takes top priority for Game 2

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Health of Wall, Beal takes top priority for Game 2

ATLANTA -- Bradley Beal left the court in tears, limping and with an angry right eye from being kicked in the face. John Wall sat at his locker with an icepack on his left wrist, speaking authoritatively to Nene about "sacrifice." The overriding storyline after Sunday's Game 1 upset of the Atlanta Hawks is how effective can the Wizards' backcourt be for the duration of this series starting with Game 2 on Tuesday. 

Beal, who missed time just before and after the All-Star break because of a recurring stress reaction in his lower right leg, had an X-ray that came back negative. "It was just a sprain," he said. "Just treat it for the next couple days and see how it feels.

"That's probably the worst I've ever turned it. Off the rip you always think of the worst because you're in so much pain. I knew after I was able to walk to the bench I knew I was going to be able to come back. Re-taping it and just being mentally tough. I can't let my team down. Even if I'm not a threat, I still can be a decoy. You have to have the heart, the will and mentality that you're going go do anything it takes to win."

Wall went into the X-Ray room, too, but team officials couldn't confirm preliminary indications that it also was negative. The Wizards practice Monday but both players probably will do little, if anything, on the court. After winning the first two road games in a first-round sweep of the Toronto Raptors, the Wizards have shifted the pressure to the No. 1 seed.

"My wrist will be alright. If it ain't broke I'll play through anything," Wall said after having 18 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds in Sunday's 104-98 victory. Wall scored six of his points in the fourth quarter, including 2 of 3 jump shots immediately after Beal exited at 8:08 after rolling his right ankle. With the lead down to 98-96 with 1:21 left, Wall assisted Otto Porter for a layup, Marcin Gortat for a lob and then made a pair of foul shots for the final margin.

"The situation with Bradley being aggressive for us, it got our offense going. When he went down I knew I had to be more aggressive. Just keep running the offensive sets and making plays for my team. I made some big shots. Otto and Marcin and those guys set some good screens."

Beal came down on Al Horford's foot after a jump shot. He still had a game-high 28 points and seven rebounds and chased Kyle Korver into 5-for-15 shooting on the defensive end. Beal re-entered at 3:50 but was replaced in the last 15 seconds by Ramon Sessions. Beal's right eye was swollen and runny after he had a first-half collision with Kent Bazemore.

"I had to look him in the eye at the end there and say, 'Can you play?'" coach Randy Wittman said of Beal when he came back from the ankle twist. "Finally at the end I put Sesh in for him. I didn't think he was moving around too good. Great heart. Great win. But again, it's one win."

Wall was hurt when he stole the ball and fell in transition attempting a layup at 3:03 of the second quarter. Beal landed on him to put back the miss. Wall rolled around on the floor while the Hawks scored a basket the other way and a timeout was called. Surprisingly, he returned though still wincing and favoring it and had one of his two turnovers for the game. As a team, the Wizards had just eight giveaways, three fewer than the Hawks which was significant because Wall averaged 6.8 in four prior meetings.

"It's more in my hand now. The pressure went to my hand," said Wall, who shoots with his right, of the pain. "I'll be ready on Tuesday."

[MORE WIZARDS: By the numbers: Efficient Wizards turn over series]

Beal is by far the more serious of the two. He has a long history of lower right leg and ankle injuries. He had to be carried off the court in a game at the Orlando Magic during the regular season last year but the swelling was minimal and the next night Beal played at home vs. the Brooklyn Nets. He's had a few ankle tweaks this season as well. Hence, the reason for Drew Gooden's optimism.

"It was a scary moment. Earlier this year he had twisted his ankle that way and got carried off, was at practice the next day windmilling the basketball," Gooden said. "He's a fast recovery."

Wall was complimentary, of course. They combined for 46 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists compared with Jeff Teague and Korver combining for 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

"I've seen him sprain his ankle plenty of times. It's got to be very bad for him not to come back. ... He's a warrior like me. If it's not broken, he's going to compete. He came back out there and tried to give us his best as he could," Wall said. "He couldn't go, we took him out, but just to see him come back that kind of gave us some momentum and motivation as a team."

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Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

The pre-draft workout process can be an exhausting journey for players, with so many flights, hotel rooms and NBA arenas that they can all blend in together. Michigan big man Moritz Wagner, though, may have felt a sense of comfort in Washington for his pre-draft workout for the Wizards on Wednesday.

It was just over a year ago that his Michigan Wolverines cut down the nets at Capital One Arena as champions of the Big Ten conference.

"It was good memories, man. Never gets old," he said while glancing around the stadium.

Wagner, 21, will be seeing a lot more of Capital One Arena once he joins the NBA ranks and it is conceivable he ends up in Washington. They hold the 15th pick in the first round and the 44th pick in the second round and Wagner could be within their reach.

Wagner had an impressive workout in Washington and could provide what the Wizards need. He is a big, mobile and can spread the floor. Wagner was terrific at stepping out to hit threes off pick-and-rolls at Michigan and that ability would work well with Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall.

Wagner measured in at just under 7-feet at this month's NBA Combine, fifth-tallest among those who attended. He averaged 14.6 points as a junior this past season and made 39.4 percent of his threes on 4.1 attempts per game.

With three years of college experience and an NBA-ready jumper, Wagner believes he can step right in and help the Wizards.

"I think what we did at Michigan, sharing the ball and playing as a team, very organized basketball, that can help big-time," he said. "It's basically pro basketball I was playing on a different level."

As Wagner will tell you, he is very confident in his abilities. He is comfortable in his own skin and that includes openly discussing his faults. He feels good about his ability to score at the next level. Defense is where he needs to prove himself.

Despite his size, Wagner wasn't much of a rim protector in college. He averaged just a half-block a game as a junior. The Wizards need rim protection badly and he likely would not provide that.

Wagner, though, believes he can bring more to the table defensively than the numbers would suggest.

"I think I've been an offensive guy all of my life, but the more that you mature as a player, you understand that both sides are important. Without defense, you aren't going to play at any level," he said.

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen, especially with the way the league is going. Switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Wagner is from Germany and looks up to Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki, who is entering his 21st season and will be in the Hall of Fame someday. Nowitzki's game has always been built around shooting and, though he developed into a decent shot-blocker in his prime, was never an elite rim protector.

Wagner hopes to follow in his footsteps playing a similar style.

"He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball," Wagner said. "It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

Hear more from Wagner in his one-on-one interview with Chris Miller in our latest Wizards Tipoff podcast. His interview can also be found in the video above:

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Bradley Beal receives zero All-NBA votes, which itself is a snub

Bradley Beal receives zero All-NBA votes, which itself is a snub

On Thursday the NBA revealed the All-NBA teams for the 2017-18 season.

Not surprisingly, Bradley Beal and John Wall did not make it to one of the three five-player teams. Of the two superstars, only Wall has been recognized once in his career.

What is surprising is that neither Beal nor Wall received a single vote in the whole process, especially Beal.

The 2017-18 season was without question the best in Beal’s career. He played in all 82 games, coming right off of the heals of his All-Star recognition. Beal seems to agree in his snubbing, tweeting this minutes after the teams were announced:

Looking at the list of players who made the top three teams, it shouldn’t be an issue, but these three guys got more votes than the Wizards' duo combined: Steven Adams, Trevor Ariza, and Dwight Howard. It is not surprising that Beal and Wall did not make an All-NBA team. It is odd that Beal didn’t receive a vote.

Here is a list of the full All-NBA Teams:

ALL-NBA FIRST TEAM: 

LeBron James (Cavaliers), James Harden (Rockets), Anthony Davis (Pelicans), Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers), Kevin Durant (Warriors)

ALL-NBA SECOND TEAM:

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), Russell Westbrook (Thunder), Joel Embiid (76ers), LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs), DeMar DeRozan (Raptors)

ALL-NBA THIRD TEAM:

Stephen Curry (Warriors), Victor Oladipo (Pacers), Karl-Anthony Towns (Timberwolves), Jimmy Butler (Timberwolves), Paul George (Thunder)

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