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John Wall, Dennis Schroder had history ahead of dunk and staredown in Wizards-Hawks Game 2

John Wall, Dennis Schroder had history ahead of dunk and staredown in Wizards-Hawks Game 2

Early in the third quarter of the Wizards' Game 2 win over the Hawks on Wednesday, John Wall sent a message to Atlanta point guard Dennis Schroder in the most emphatic of ways.

First, Wall stole the ball between Schroder and Dwight Howard, then took it the length of the court for a left-handed slam. Schroder trailed him the whole way and because of that got dunked on.

Perhaps not liking that Schroder made contact near the rim, Wall stared him down after the funk. And, as caught on camera, he had some words from Schroder, a variation of the question: "what are you doing?"

Here's the play:

If you recall, Wall and Schroder have a little bit of history. During the Wizards-Hawks second round playoff series in 2015, Wall said Schroder intended to re-injure Wall's wrist after he hurt himself in Game 1 and missed the next three games. 

Read this from Wizards Insider J. Michael back in 2015:

"I did. A couple of them," Wall said. "Then Dennis Schroder told Kent Bazemore to smack me. I was like, 'You come smack me.'"

Was that banter serious or just to get in Wall's head, to make him less confident about driving to the rim? He injured himself in Game 1 when he fell hard in transition on a layup attempt with Jeff Teague nearby.

"No telling. Competitive game," Wall said of the perceived threat to his wrist and hand. "What made me feel very comfortable is I made the move on Jeff Teague, scored a left-hand layup and (I) fell on it. I got up and then I ran into a screen and got hit. It's going to take nicks and bruises. There's going to be a little bit of pain in there. If I can deal with it. I'm fine playing."

Could that be why Wall was jawing at Schroder? Maybe, maybe not. But it's interesting.

There was also this: Schroder in 2015 told Grantland that Wall talked the most trash of anyone he had played against in the NBA. 

[RELATED: Trash talking in pro sports: John Wall, Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer and others weigh in]

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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.