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John Wall's energy contagious in Wizards' win over Clippers

John Wall's energy contagious in Wizards' win over Clippers

In the closing seconds of the Wizards' 117-110 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday afternoon, John Wall could not contain his excitement. While dribbling the ball down the sideline and across halfcourt, he leapt up and down in the air pumping his fist.

As soon as the clock ran out, he turned to the crowd in front of him, shouted and raised his hand in the air to encourage their applause. Wall and his team had just finished off their most impressive win of the season so far, a thorough performance against one of the NBA's best teams, and Wall was ready to celebrate.

That was just one of many moments shared between Wall and the 17,380 fans at the Verizon Center on Sunday. The Wizards' star point guard wears his emotions on his sleeve. That style can sometimes get him in trouble, like on Sunday when he earned his seventh technical of the season. But when used positively, Wall's energy can make even the most mundane of NBA regular season matchups a whole lot of fun.

"He's the most passionate and energetic player I know. He has the heart of a champion," guard Bradley Beal said of Wall.

"John is an emotional player," head coach Scott Brooks said. "That's how he plays. He gets the crowd involved. He plays with a lot of passion and I will never take that away from him. I like guys that play with passion. I don't like guys that don't compete and that's not John."

As the Wizards have played better in recent weeks - they have won five of their last six games overall and five straight at home - the crowds have followed. After the Wizards' win over the Bucks on Dec. 10, players remarked how it was the best crowd of the season. That group seemed to be outdone on Sunday.

"As long as our crowd continues to be as loud as they were [today], that would be great for us," Beal said. "We feed off their energy. I think sometimes they don't realize how important they are to us because their energy is like a sixth man. That's another challenge and a distraction to the other team. We definitely feed off that and John definitely feeds off of it."

"We feed off of it a lot. The crowd was in the game today and we needed that to win. We need them every game," forward Markieff Morris said.

"I thought our crowd was great. They were into the game. It helps when you have that support," Brooks said.

Wall certainly helped that cause both with his play - he had 18 points and 11 assists - and his efforts to egg them on. But, when discussing his emotion on the court, the technical does happen to stand out.

Wall received the penalty with 1:18 left in the third quarter after he made an up-and-under layup on a fastbreak. Blake Griffin went for the block, but instead hit him in the head and Wall wasn't happy about it.

"The play I got a technical on, I shot a reverse layup and got hit in the head," Wall said. "It's the same type of play that happened in our game against Memphis, when they looked at it and called it a Flagrant 1. I feel like we should get the same calls. I felt like that was a call that they should have looked at and called it a Flagrant 1."

Wall, of course, didn't get the foul he wanted. Instead, he has his seventh technical which trails only DeMarcus Cousins for the most in the NBA this season. One more and he's halfway to 16, the threshold for a one-game suspension in the NBA. The Wizards just played their 26th game, so there is plenty of time left for him to accrue more.

"I'm not concerned," Wall said. "It was just the emotion of the game... It's tough… you try to do the things that bring energy to your team. When things are not going your way, you try to find other ways to impact the game."

"John is an emotional player, as you saw with the technical. We will once again talk about that," Brooks said. "We have to keep our emotions in check. There's times when you lose control, I get that. And he's actually been better the last couple of weeks of keeping those emotions to himself and not the referees."


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Ted Leonsis maintains optimism amid harsh reality of John Wall injury

Ted Leonsis maintains optimism amid harsh reality of John Wall injury

CAPITAL ONE ARENA -- It might be quite a while before we see John Wall on the court playing for the Wizards again.

It was already well-known Wall will miss extended time as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles tendon, a rehab that usually takes at least 11 months. But it is starting to sound more and more like he won't play in the 2019-20 season at all.

Wizards managing partner Ted Leonsis shared that harsh reality on Monday during a press conference at Capital One Arena.

"Our highest-paid player, our five-time All-Star, may not play at all next year. He probably won't play at all next year," Leonsis said.

If Wall follows the general timeline for the surgery, he could come back sometime early in 2020. A 12-month recovery would have him return in early February.

If Wall missed all of next season, he would return to start the 2020-21 campaign after a 20-month recovery. That would be nearly double the rehab time many players have taken for the same injury over the years. He would be 30 years old by then.

But Wall and the Wizards have reason to be extra patient. He is entering the first season of a four-year, $170 million supermax contract. Punting the first year, even if he is making $38 million, could be worth it in the long run if it means he returns to his All-Star form.

The Wizards are also likely to have a gap year of sorts anyways. They retooled their roster with young, inexperienced players. The odds they make the playoffs this season are lower than they have been in years. The Wizards are taking the long view and they know getting Wall's rehab right is paramount.

Leonsis and team officials currently get daily reports on Wall's progress. After making the supermax investment, they are taking extra measures to ensure he is holding up his end of the bargain. The Wizards closely monitor his weight and have a rotation of physical therapists working with him every day.

If it were up to Wall, he would be more likely to return next season. The team is the side taking extra caution.

"Trust me, nobody wants to get back to the court more than John Wall," GM Tommy Sheppard told NBC Sports Washington. 

"But I've tried to manage this with him and say there is no calendar or clock that is going to tell you to come back. You're going to come back when you're 100 percent healthy. Anybody who has watched him in the playoffs play with broken hands and all of the aches and pains he's had over the years and he still showed up and played at a high, high level. You know you need to monitor him a little more than most. That's the kind of player that is going to try to sneak back on the court any time he can."

What Leonsis said publicly has been the belief behind the scenes in the Wizards organization for quite some time. They are preparing for next season as if he won't play, 

"We have to see if John Wall comes back and how he looks and how he plays," Leonsis told NBC Sports Washington. "If John Wall can come back at 80 percent the year after [in 2020-21], I would be really happy because then we would have a great, great backcourt."


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SPOILER ALERT! Wizards make appearance in New York Times crossword on Sunday

SPOILER ALERT! Wizards make appearance in New York Times crossword on Sunday

Fans of both crossword puzzles and the Washington Wizards had a leg-up when completing the New York Times crossword puzzle on Sunday. 

The clue: "Wizards, but not witches."

The answer: 7 letters, "NBATEAM." 

This isn't the first time famous crosswords have included sports-related clues. The Washington Post and LA Times have used Bobby Orr as an answer many of times (trust me, we always have a half-finished crossword puzzle hiding somewhere in our living room). 

But athletes aren't the only answers to clues. Remember when the Post's Isabelle Khurshudyan revealed the Washington Capitals' "cult of crossword men" back in 2016?

The New York Times even published a list of the top-10 sports names to know for crossword fanatics everywhere. 

Just further proof that sports continue to permeate every aspect of life.