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Morning tip: All-Star recognition in Bradley Beal's grasp, and it gives him 'goosebumps'

Morning tip: All-Star recognition in Bradley Beal's grasp, and it gives him 'goosebumps'

The only way Bradley Beal can be held back from being a first-time All-Star, it would seem, is if he's not healthy. He's going into tonight's game as day-to-day for the Wizards after spraining his right ankle.

Along with point guard John Wall, who had a game-high 36 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in Wednesday's win vs. the Indiana Pacers, Beal is having his best season and has played a big part in why the Wizards have won seven of their last 10. A win over the Brooklyn Nets at Verizon Center tonight and they'll be at .500 which seemed almost impossible just a month ago. 

Wall has been an All-Star three times. Beal, in his fifth season, is coming off a career-low 55 games played. He's not only a possible All-Star, but he has to be in the conversation for the NBA's Most Improved Player, too. 

"I get goosebumps just thinking about it. That would be awesome for this city," said Beal, who is averaging 21.8 points, 3.6 assists, 45 percent shooting and 39 percent from three. "For how long me and John have been together, finally getting to be All-Stars together that would be great. I've lost count with how many he's made it. It'll be awesome. It'll be great for our team. Great camaraderie." 

Before Beal rolled his right ankle, he was headed for a big night vs. Indiana. He shot 4 of 6 in the first quarter and his stepback jumper was working. He didn't have a good shooting night in the previous game vs. the Milwaukee Bucks but was 9-for-10 from the foul line to manufacture many of his 22 points. When defenses overload coverages on him to take away his looks, Beal is making the pocket passes to get easy buckets for others which happened when he posted a career-high nine assists in a win over the Charlotte Hornets. His game is becoming more complete.

"He didn’t have a great shooting start of this season," said Wizards coach Scott Brooks, who lost Beal for three games to a right hamstring strain before he got on a hot streak. "At times he would get down on himself.  You want to be known as a jump shooter or you want to be known as a player that’s going to be special?  If you want to rely on being a jump shooter you're going to have a rollercoaster career because you're going to have games that you make shots and games that you don't. His ability to be a complete player is what we want out of him every night."

Beal isn't just catching and shooting while Wall does all of the work to set up teammates. They're sharing more of that workload. Beal's hesitation dribble has freed him repeatedly to finish at the rim. He's getting to the free-throw line a career-high 5.2 times per game and the frequency is rising.

"I feel like my playmaking, whether it's for myself or my teammates, I've been putting the ball on the floor," Beal said of where he has made the most progress. "I'm more confident shooting my three off the dribble, my passing is a lot better. In my previous years, my passing wasn't that good and my pick-and-roll offense wasn't in the right percentages where it needed to be."

He'd often hit Marcin Gortat in the shins with those bounces passes when he was trapped. Beal is accepting the pressure on and off the court. He signed a $128 million max contract in the offseason and is living up to it a little more each step of the way.

All-Star voting has opened and he has until Jan. 16, when it closes, to make his case that he belongs in New Orleans for the Feb. 19 showcase. If the popular vote doesn't get him in, the league's coaches vote for reserves.

"Those are my goals," Beal said. " I don't focus on it. I don't pay attention to it. It's not my say so. I just go out and play and just control what I can control."

MORE WIZARDS: John Wall reacts to game being bumped from national TV

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John Wall had the worst game of his career against the Cavs

John Wall had the worst game of his career against the Cavs

The problem with John Wall on Saturday night in the Wizards' blowout loss to the Cavs depended somewhat on whom was asked. Either that, or it was all of the above.

Head coach Scott Brooks indicated to reporters in Cleveland that Wall was sick. Bradley Beal referenced personal issues the team would prefer to keep in-house. Wall suggested he was hampered by a nagging left heel injury. 

Wall's explanation certainly passed the eye test. He clearly didn't have his trademark burst up and down the floor. Plus, he has been icing his left foot after recent games.

Add it all up and it was enough to produce the worst stat line of Wall's nine-year NBA career. Never before had he been held without a field goal and not once had he scored just one point in a game.

Wall runs the Wizards' offense, so naturally, his lethargic play set a sleepy tone. The Wizards dragged their feet, got shoved around by Tristan Thompson and went down by as many as 29. A reminder that this was against the Cavs, a 6-20 team with the worst defensive rating in the league.

Wall went on to tell the Washington Post that the pain in his heel is bad enough that he can't yet commit to playing on Monday in the Wizards' next game. 

When Wall is playing through injuries, he will often go out of his way to downplay them. His admission of the heel injury and how much it has hurt him is unusual and indicates the severity.

Wall has been dealing with several minor leg injuries this season. On top of the heel issue, he played through a thigh bruise earlier this year. But it had yet to be this bad and there may be a reason for that.

Wall returned for this game after being away for a few days to deal with a personal matter. Perhaps that time off made it tough for him to get loose or manage the injury like he usually does when under the watch of team doctors. 

That would make sense, given the last time he played, he played well. Wall had 18 points and 15 assists against the Knicks on Monday.

Many factors may have been at play. The result was a hobbled version of Wall, one who couldn't force enough separation to even get his shots off. Wall attempted only five field goals, the second-fewest of his career. Usually, even on his worst shooting nights, Wall can at least put up shots.

The pain and how it affected his game was clearly wearing on Wall. With just under two minutes to go in the first half, he drove into contact in the lane. After missing the layup, and not getting a foul call, he slapped the stanchion under the hoop before slowly turning to head back on defense.

When Wall is at peak powers, he plays with an unrelenting chip on his shoulder, flying to the rim like he's drawn by a magnetic force. He glides down the court, finishing with left-handed dunks and darts to open teammates on the perimeter. 

On Saturday, the swagger wasn't there. He hung his head, trotted timidly up and down the court and watched helplessly as rookie Collin Sexton and others drove past him.

Wall was far removed from his usual self against the Cavs. It would be hard to envision a scenario in which the Wizards could win with how he played.

At this point, it wouldn't be surprising if he missed Monday's game against the Pacers. The Wizards need him at or near 100 percent and he wasn't close enough against the Cavs.


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Details emerge regarding the lingering injury which led to John Wall's career-worst night

Details emerge regarding the lingering injury which led to John Wall's career-worst night

On a night that Washington found itself trailing the Cleveland Cavaliers for the majority of the game, details are now surfacing regarding what may have contributed to John Wall's career-low in scoring. 

The five-time All-Star spent significant time postgame nursing a bone spur, he told reporters. 

He said he 'probably shouldn't have played' in a game where a victory would have made it four consecutive for Washington (11-15). 

It certainly didn't help that Wall had Cavs rookie Collin Sexton's never-ending motor running by him all game long. The 19-year-old lit it up in Cleveland for 29 points (13-23 FG), three rebounds and six assists. 

In 26 minutes of work, Wall scored one point and was 0-5 from the floor. Luckily for the 28-year-old, Washington has Sunday off before Monday's matchup with the Pacers in Indiana.