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Morning tip: Wall looks forward to first meeting with Kyrie

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Morning tip: Wall looks forward to first meeting with Kyrie

The first meeting between John Wall and Kyrie Irving always has been worth circling on any NBA calendar. But ever since Wall told CSNmidatlantic.com that he thought it was "a joke" that he trailed him in All-Star fan voting, their matchup took on heightened importance.

"It’s always a special battle between us two. Ever since he came in the league it’s always going back and forth. Sometimes I’ll be injured, he won’t play," Wall said after Tuesday's practice. "He’ll give you a lot of tough matchup problems. He can shoot the ball very well, has handles, finishes at the basket. He does a lot of different things. That’s what you get up for. You try not to force it into a one-on-one battle and just play the right way."

When the Wizards (15-17) handed the Cavs (23-9) what is still their only home loss, Irving had yet to play because of a knee injury he'd sustained in last season's playoffs.

Still, the Wizards were short-handed, too, in the 97-85 victory on Dec. 1. They had to play without Nene, Gary Neal and Drew Gooden so coach Randy Wittman went to a lineup of Wall, Bradley Beal, Garrett Temple,  Otto Porter and Jared Dudley. They went on a 9-0 run, Wall had his season high of 35 points and LeBron James had nine turnovers.

With Irving and Iman Shumpert back from injury, however, the Cavs won't be the same. In six games, Irving is averaging 15 points and 4.2 assists. Shumpert has played 10 games (6.5 points) but gives them another body to throw at Wall.

Beal (leg) has been out almost a month and is probably a few more weeks from returning at the earliest. If Porter and Temple aren't able to drain their open looks, it'll be easier to bottle up Wall. Neal (thigh) and Nene (calf) could return.

"They’re a totally different team offensively. With Kyrie coming back and being aggressive, you got Kevin Love and those guys. We had opportunities. LeBron did have a lot of turnovers, Kevin Love wasn’t making shots and J.R. (Smith) wasn’t making shots," said Wall, who ran circles around Matthew Dellavedova and eventually became the East's Player of the Month for December. "They got a flow to the offense and guys are making shots.  We’ll probably see different adjustments defensively towards me but that game we moved the ball very well and played team defense the way we wanted to and that’s the reason why we won."

Two seasons ago when Wall first was selected as an All-Star, he was Irving's backup though he had a better season. Last year, Wall was voted a starter for the first time but was overshadowed by Irving when he was selected by media to All-NBA third team. It's slights like these that he uses as motivation to play better, particularly on the defensive end, where Wall can be a much more effective player than Irving.

"They going to come with the same kind of mindset, upset that they lost to us at home," Wall said. "Now that they’re full-force, they’re going to be a tough team. We know what we’re going up against. We know what we have to do."

MORE WIZARDS: NENE TO RETURN?

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Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Kentucky's Diallo, UMBC's upset hero

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Kentucky's Diallo, UMBC's upset hero

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, defeating the No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. 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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