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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' first pre-draft workout to feature Diallo of Kentucky, local star from UMBC


Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Diallo of Kentucky, local star from UMBC

The Washington Wizards will hold their first pre-draft workout on Tuesday at Capital One Arena and the group of six players features some familiar names. 

Included in the mix is guard Jairus Lyles, who starred for the Unversity of Maryland-Baltimore County and helped lead them as a 16-seed over top-ranked Virginia in the NCAA Tournament. It was the first 16-over-a-1 upset in the tournament's history.

Here are the six players with some notes on each one...

Chris Chiozza, guard, Florida (6-0, 175)

Chiozza played four years at Florida and finished as the school's all-time assists leader. He averaged 11.1 points, 6.1 assists and 1.9 steals per game as a senior.

Hamidou Diallo, guard, Kentucky (6-5, 198)

Diallo redshirted in 2016-17 and played one season for the Wildcats. He averaged 10.0 points and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 45.8 percent from the field. Diallo measured 6-foot-6 with shoes at the combine and boasts a 7-foot wingspan.

Tiwian Kendley, guard, Morgan State (6-5, 190)

Kendly was a big-time scorer at Morgan St., averaging 21.0 points as a redshirt junior and 26.1 points as a senior. He took a lot of shots, however, averaging 18.2 field goal attempts on 45.3 percent from the field this past season. Kendley starred at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Maryland before joining the college ranks, first at Lamar Community College.

Jairus Lyles, guard, UMBC (6-2, 175)

Lyles was the leading scorer for the Retrievers this past season as they became the biggest underdog Cinderella in NCAA history. He averaged 20.2 points and shot 39.0 percent from three on 6.1 attempts. Lyles began his college career at VCU and played high school ball at nearby DeMatha.

Doral Moore, center, Wake Forest (7-1, 280)

A three-year player at Wake Forest, Moore had a breakout season as a junior with averages of 11.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. Moore played with Sixers star Ben Simmons in high school.

Ray Spalding, forward, Louisville (6-10, 215)

Spalding played three years at Louisville and averaged 12.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.5 steals per game as a junior. He posted a 7-5 wingspan at the NBA Combine. Spalding played with Jazz star Donovan Mitchell in college. 

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Mike Scott

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Mike Scott

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Mike Scott's season...

Player: Mike Scott

Position: Power forward

Age: 29

2017-18 salary: $1.7 million

2017-18 stats: 76 G, 18.5 mpg, 8.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.1 bpg, 52.7 FG%, 40.5 3P%, 65.8 FT%, 59.0 eFG%, 109 ORtg, 111 DRtg

Best game: 12/9 at Clippers - 22 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 9-for-11 FG, 3-for-4 3PT, 28 minutes

Season review: The 2017-18 Wizards season was full of unpredictability and the most positive surprise had to be the comeback of Mike Scott.

The Wizards signed Scott to a veteran minimum contract last offseason after a workout at Capital One Arena. This came just months after he had felony drug charges dropped in the state of Georgia, he lost 25 pounds and rehabbed a leg injury. That spring he had wondered, and justifiably, if his NBA career was over.

Scott overcame all of those odds to not only return to the NBA, but re-establish himself as a productive player off the bench. No one was more consistent start-to-finish in the Wizards' second unit than Scott was.

Scott earned a significant role in head coach Scott Brooks' rotation out of the preseason and stayed there. He reached double-figures in 31 of his 76 games, second only to Kelly Oubre, Jr. on the Wizards. 

Scott's primary value was on offense. He scored inside and out and got his points with remarkable efficiency. He led the Wizards and was tied for 11th in the NBA in effective field-goal percentage. He was second on Washington in field goal percentage and third in three-point percentage. 

Scott closed the season strong, reaching double-figures in scoring in seven of the last nine regular season games. He carried that over into the playoffs with 46 points through their first three games against the Raptors. 

Now comes the question of how much money Scott earned himself with his comeback year and whether the Wizards can afford keeping him. Since they are in the luxury tax, they will have little money to spend this summer. 

The way to keep Scott would be to use the remainder of their taxpayer mid-level exception, but that figures to be only about $1.9 million, not much more than what Scott made in 2017-18. Given how well he played this season, it would not be surprising if he earns much more than that.

Potential to improve: Free throw shooting, forcing turnovers, ability to guard bigs

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

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