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History suggests wounded John Wall tends to be more dangerous as he closes in on assists lead

History suggests wounded John Wall tends to be more dangerous as he closes in on assists lead

Friday, it wasn't exactly John Wall playing through five fractures in his hand and wrist to to play, but it was the next best thing for the Wizards as they were trying to end a two-game slide against the Chicago Bulls.

Like he did in that playoff series two years ago, averaging a double-double in three games vs. the Atlanta Hawks in the conference semifinals (18 and 10), Wall played through a left foot sprain that had his status in question before tipoff. After having knee problems as early as the fourth game last season, which would require surgeries to both a month after 2015-16 ended, Wall still averaged 19.9 points and 10 assists.

"I think going back into the fourth quarter I had maybe 18," Wall said of his assist total at the time. "So I knew I had a chance [to set a career-high]. I knew also that I had to play the right way because it was a close game so you just couldn't worry about those. Just try to get the win. If it was a blowout we could have just worried about it but it was a different kind of game. Luckily, I got it."

By that he means 20. It's a mark that Wall has come short twice this season with 19.  He posted his career-high in a 112-107 win to go with his 14 points for his 45th double-double. 

Wall's defense also was key in them holding the Bulls to just 40 first-half points. Rajon Rondo only had six points in 33 minutes. They allowed 67 points in the second half, but it at least was a start to better individual team defense for the Wizards who have struggled in that area.

Wall injured his left foot Wednesday in a bad fall against the Dallas Mavericks. He played through it and X-Rays revealed no damage, but he didn't practice Thursday or shootaround with his teammates Friday morning.

He never looked tentative but was more focused on getting stops and getting his teammates involved rather than getting his own shot early. Wall only had four attemptts in the first half.

Then when the score drew tighter as the Bulls cut into a 19-point deficit, Wall came through with layup at 5:21 for a 96-91 lead and assisted Otto Porter on a jumper.

After three consecutive buckets on drives by Bradley Beal, Wall got No. 20 on a lob to Marcin Gortat with 1:10 left to keep it a two-possession game. And then the point guard made all four of his free throws down the stretch.

It's the type of grit that's to be expected from the four-time All-Star who is making a push to become an All-NBA player for the first time in his seven seasons and solidify his team as a top 3 seed for the postseason.

Wall didn't receive a single vote among 29 opposition general managers when asked who were the NBA's best passers. He's now averaging 10.9 assists which is second-best in the league. James Harden leads at 11.2 and the assist title is in range.

"That first half," said Wizards coach Scott Brooks of Wall's 12 assists, "was almost flawless. The defensive effort. Rondo is obviously a prober, and he can handle the ball and he can manipulate screen-and-rolls but John was there. ... There are only a few guys in the league that can dominate a game with passing only, and he's one of them."

[RELATED: Takeaways from Wizards' narrow win over Bulls]

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Wizards waive three, sign 2017 first-rounder Anzejs Pasecniks

Wizards waive three, sign 2017 first-rounder Anzejs Pasecniks

As the NBA regular season approaches, the Washington Wizards seek to finalize their roster.

The Wizards announced on Wednesday that they have waived Phil Booth, Justin Anderson and Jemerrio Jones. The team also signed 2017 first-rounder Anzejs Pasecniks and small forward Jalen Jones, the team announced.

Pasecniks and Jones were signed to Exhibit 10 contracts, meaning that if they are waived, they will have the opportunity to play for the Go-Go, the Wizards' G-League affiliate. Booth was on an Exhibit 10 deal, so he will report to the Go-Go after being waived.

Pasecniks, a 7-foot center from Latvia, was the 25th overall selection from the 2017 draft. The Orlando Magic drafted him and moved him to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for draft picks. The 76ers renounced his rights in June.

Pasecniks played on the Wizards summer league team, averaging 4.0 points and 5.3 rebounds. Jalen Jones has averaged 4.8 points and 2.3 rebounds while shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc in 32 games over two seasons with three teams.


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John Wall embracing role as assistant coach during injury rehab

John Wall embracing role as assistant coach during injury rehab

WASHINGTON -- John Wall has already made enough money during his basketball career to last a lifetime and his new supermax contract worth $170 million is just kicking in. When he is done playing in the NBA, he doesn't have to do anything at all if he doesn't want to.

But there is at least a small part of Wall that believes coaching could be in his future. He loves the game enough to not rule out the possibility.

This year will give him a taste of what being a coach is all about. While he rehabs his ruptured left Achilles, he will serve as an unofficial assistant to head coach Scott Brooks. Wall will be asked to break down film with players, advise on plays to run and help the team's young point guards in practice.

Wall isn't sure as of today whether he wants to coach when his playing days are over. But he may have an answer in just a few months.

"I think this year will tell me whether I can be a coach or not," Wall told NBC Sports Washington on the Wizards Talk podcast. 

"I think you have to have a lot of patience and you've gotta know how to interact with every player. Every player's attitudes and character and mood swings are totally different. I learned from when a coach tried to coach me when I was young and I wasn't the guy to coach."

Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard envisions Wall as an important part of the locker room, even when he isn't playing. Part of his role may include some tough conversations with players. As Sheppard says, Wall may be able to deliver some messages that resonate more from a peer than if they came from a coach. 

Wall knows he can help in that regard. He has long been a vocal presence for the Wizards and had to assume the role as a team leader at an early age. After coming in as the No. 1 overall pick, he was a franchise player from the time he was 19 years old.

Wall's personality may also lend itself to those duties. He is very honest, whether it be with teammates or the media. 

"I like to speak my mind," he said. "It's like my momma always told me, 'I'd rather you speak your mind and say what you want to say, but say it in a respectful manner and a respectful way.'"

Wall, in fact, has a detailed philosophy on being honest. He doesn't like to lie whether it's in a media setting, to teammates or in everyday life.

It's not quite a Jim Carrey in 'Liar, Liar' deal, but Wall sees no point in beating around the bush. If he has something to say to a teammate or the media, he will say it.

"I don't know how to not give you the truth," he said. "What I've learned is that when you lie, you've gotta remember that lie exactly the way you said it for the next 12 people you tell it to. So, why make it that tough?"

Wall is set to miss at least the first few months of the Wizards' 2019-20 season and he could be sidelined the entire year. He said he hopes to have a similar impact that Kristi Tolliver did with the Mystics this past season where she remained active as a veteran leader in the locker room despite not being able to help the team on the floor for weeks due to a knee injury.

Missing so much time due to injury is not the ideal situation for Wall, but he plans to make the most of it.

"It will make my game a lot smarter and better for when I come back," he said.