Quick Links

Looking back at the last time the Wizards and Hawks met in the NBA Playoffs

Looking back at the last time the Wizards and Hawks met in the NBA Playoffs

By now many D.C. sports fans can tell you all about the city's drought of making the semifinals of a major sports league.

Neither the Wizards, Nationals, Redskins or Capitals have made the final four of their respective league since the Caps were swept in the Stanley Cup Finals in 1998.

That is the longest wait of any North American city with at least three teams in the big four leagues (NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL).

That, though, is not the only amazing part to note. No, it's how close those teams have gotten and how epic their downfalls were. Between Dan Turk fumbling the snap, the Capitals being 100 seconds away and the Nationals having a six-run lead in Game 5, D.C. sports fans have been through a lot.

One of the most memorable oh-so-close downfalls came the last time the Wizards were in the playoffs when they lost to the Atlanta Hawks in the second round two years ago. At times that spring, the Wizards looked like they were going to break through D.C.'s semifinals slump.

Instead, the Wizards became the first team in NBA history to lose a playoff series on a replay. Now the Wizards are matched up again with the Hawks, this time in the first round and this time with homecourt advantage.

Let's take a look back at that series from two years ago and its most memorable moments...

Wall's injury in Game 1 

The Wizards won Game 1 in Atlanta, but it was a Pyrrhic victory, as late in the first half All-Star point guard John Wall landed on his left wrist while attempting a fastbreak layup. Jeff Teague of the Hawks got under Wall and affected his fall. The result was five non-displaced fractures in Wall's wrist, which forced him to miss the next three games.

Here is a replay of the injury, one that Wall has not forgotten about:

Beal steps up

The Wizards would lose two of the three games they played without Wall, but in his place they saw 21-year-old Bradley Beal take his game to a new level. In those three games he averaged 23.7 points and 7.3 assists. That was capped by a Game 4 performance of 34 points, seven assists, six rebounds, three steals and a block, albeit in a loss. He ended up averaged 25.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists in the series and along the way looked like a future superstar.

[RELATED: What Wizards will need to beat Hawks in playoffs]

'I called game'

This was the best moment of the series for the Wizards. In Game 3 as they continued to play without Wall, future Hall of Famer Paul Pierce sank he Hawks with a buzzer-beater. He put it in off the backboard on a fadeaway long-two over three Hawks defenders. It was an amazing shot and even better was his quote afterwards. When asked by ESPN's Chris Broussard if he called bank, Pierce replied with "I called game" and walked off to add effect.

Pierce hits big shot, Hawks respond

Pierce would hit another clutch shot in Game 5 in Atlanta. With the Wizards down two points, Pierce knocked down a three with 8.3 seconds to go. That gave the Wizards the lead.

The Hawks, though, would respond with this shot from Al Horford to win it:

Heroic shot turns to heartbreak

Okay, this is where the true D.C. sports sadness comes in. Pierce nearly had another buzzer-beater, this one from three and to send the game into overtime. Pierce swished a fadeaway three from near the corner and the Verizon Center went nuts. Super chef Jose Andres famously celebrated with Pierce right after it went in. But a closer look at the replay revealed that Pierce didn't get the shot off in time. The series, the season and Pierce's Wizards' career were all over in epic fashion. And, again, no team had ever lost this way before.

We understand if you don't want to watch this again, but if it's not too soon, here you go:

[RELATED: The Wizards had the Hawks' number during regular season]

Quick Links

Wizards release statement on the passing of John Wall's mother

USA TODAY Sports Images

Wizards release statement on the passing of John Wall's mother

The Washington Wizards announced the passing of John Wall's mother, Frances Pulley on Friday. 

Wall's mother had been battling cancer before her passing. She was 58. 

In a statement on Twitter, the Wizards said, "Sending thoughts and love for John Wall and his family after the passing of his mother, Frances Pulley. She will forever be a part of our #DCFamily."

Zach Leonsis, the senior vice president of strategic initiatives at Monumental Sports & Entertainment, also released a statement

"Thinking of @JohnWall and his family right now. Keeping you guys in our prayers. So terribly sorry for your loss and know that she will be remembered forever. #DCFamily

Wall's Kentucky coach, John Calipari also expressed his condolences for his former star: 


Quick Links

Bradley Beal sees a young John Wall in the Grizzlies rookie sensation Ja Morant

Bradley Beal sees a young John Wall in the Grizzlies rookie sensation Ja Morant

WASHINGTON -- It is not often you see a rookie find initial success in the NBA to the degree Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant has, already with borderline All-Star numbers at the age of 20. And oftentimes, opponents are careful throwing out player comparisons for guys his age, wanting to see more before they anoint anyone.

Morant, though, is a different case and questions from media members at Wizards practice this week as the team gets set to face him for the first time naturally led to parallels to great players. On Thursday, Brooks brought up unprompted how much Morant reminds him of Russell Westbrook, his former player in Oklahoma City.

And on Friday, Bradley Beal invoked a teammate of his when breaking down what makes Morant so good.

"He loves to get up and down. He's really fast with the ball. It reminds you of John [Wall] in a lot of ways. He plays with his pace," Beal said.

Through 19 games this season, Morant is averaging 18.7 points, 6.4 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He is shooting 42.2 percent from three on 2.2 attempts.

The threes have been surprising to most, as he shot a relatively modest 36.3 percent his final year in college at Murray State. But also surprising maybe just how lethal he has been at attacking the rim.

Sure, that was a big part of his game in college. But this is the NBA where athletes are much bigger and stronger. And he isn't the biggest guy either, weighing in at 175 pounds according to Basketball-Reference.

But despite lacking in size, he has shown an ability to finish through contact rarely seen from any player.

"I think he has a no-fear type of mentality. So, you have to respect his aggressiveness," Beal said. "He'll get respect from a lot of players in the league, a lot of refs in the league because of his aggressiveness and... with all the posters he has. So, he's an assassin. You gotta respect his game."

Beal likely won't draw the defensive assignment on Morant. That will probably go to Ish Smith and back-up point guard Chris Chiozza, who is with the team while Isaiah Thomas recovers from a left calf injury.

Beal knows it is going to be tough for the whole Wizards team to contain Morant. He said the trick will be trying to stay in front of him, though he knows that is easier said than done.

Really, Morant is such a unique player that the Wizards can only gameplan and prepare so much until they actually experience facing him for the first time.

"He's gonna be a handful," Beal said.