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Revenge was on the mind for LeBron James against Wizards


Revenge was on the mind for LeBron James against Wizards

LeBron James didn't bother playing it cool when talk of revenge came up following the Cleveland Cavaliers' 121-115 win over the Washington Wizards Wednesday night. The Wizards thumped his side last month in Cleveland. There would be a reckoning in the rematch.

"It was in the front of our mind," James said shortly after scoring a game-high 34 points. "We know what they did to us. We just wanted to try to get some give back."

The 97-85 loss on Dec. 1 wasn't filled with offensive flair by anyone other than Wizards guard John Wall. Seemingly every player found a rhythm at times during the high-scoring meeting at Verizon Center. James certainly did in the third quarter with four 3-pointers in the opening three minutes. That barrage helped turn a 62-50 halftime lead into a 73-55 blowout in the making. 

Except the blowout never happened. The small-ball Wizards ripped one 3-pointer after another, finishing 8 of 11 in the quarter and 14 of 24 overall. When Ramon Sessions' dunk ties the game 95-95 with 10:53 remaining, all the momentum was with Washington.

Except nobody told the Cavaliers. Kyrie Irving hit consecutive highlight worthy layups en route to scoring the game's next 10 points and 32 overall. Washington went scoreless for the next 4:07. This time, the Eastern Conference leading Cavaliers stayed firm.

“We had to get some timely stops," said James, who also had 10 rebounds and four assists. "They were shooting the heck out of the ball tonight. They had it moving all over the floor tonight. They’ve been playing small-ball a lot and they put us in a lot of tough situations defensively. But it was just our composure, we’re a team that’s finally getting into our groove, where we have guys on the floor who have been together for long periods of time.”

Having their primary players back helped against Wall, who scored 35 points in the win at Cleveland against the Irving-less Cavaliers. That version didn't show in the first half. Wall went 1 of 9 from the field with six of his seven turnovers. Though he scored 18 points - 20 overall - and made all four of his 3-point attempts in the second half, the Cavaliers kept the speedster from dominating the game in the open court.

"You’ve got to get back in transition. You have to build a wall against Wall," James said. "You let him play in an open court, one-on-one, he’s too fast and too strong, and he’s gonna put your defense at bay and he did that all night long and our first game up in Cleveland. He was hitting his outside shots tonight, but we just had to try and keep him out of transition, and we were able to do that to John just enough.”

Except with James, Irving and J.R. Smith each scoring at least 25 points, the Cavaliers also had plenty of offense. In this game, revenge wasn't served cold, but instead with a hot shooting touch. 

"LeBron got on a little three-point tear," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "You kinda like to see him standing out there instead of doing what he can do going to the basket and posting up, but he goes 4-for-9."

Cleveland ran its winning streak to five games. Washington has dropped four of five. We'll see who is hot or cold when the teams meet next Feb. 28 in Chinatown.

[RELATED: Redskins players turn out for Wizards-Cavaliers]

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Wizards working out Kentucky's Hamidou Diallo another sign the two sides might be a good fit

Wizards working out Kentucky's Hamidou Diallo another sign the two sides might be a good fit

The University of Kentucky was well-represented at the Wizards' first pre-draft workout on Tuesday at Capital One Arena, as All-Star point guard John Wall sat courtside to watch a young player who could join him next season in Washington.

The Wizards hosted Kentucky guard Hamidou Diallo just days after interviewing him at the NBA Combine in Chicago, Ill., another sign the 19-year-old is a legitimate option for their second round pick, set for 44th overall in next month's draft.

Diallo, who is originally from Queens, NY., said he is friends with Wall, as the two have crossed paths due to the Kentucky connection. 

"I feel like he knows what I'm capable of," Diallo said.

He now hopes the Wizards front office understands what he can do. Diallo is a defensive-minded wing who measured 6-foot-6 (with shoes) at the combine and with a 7-foot wingspan. He had the fifth-best max vertical leap at the combine, coming in at 40.5 inches. He was also the 12th-ranked player in the class of 2017 out of high school.

The measurables and pedigree are impressive, but Diallo's potential has yet to be realized. He didn't play a game despite attending Kentucky in the 2016-17 academic year. He tested the NBA Draft waters last summer before returning to Kentucky to average a modest 10.0 points and 3.6 rebounds.

Diallo has already worked out for the Chicago Bulls and will meet with plenty more teams, but is currently projected by most mock drafts to be a second round pick. This time he hired an agent and will definitely be making the leap.

"It feels good this year going through it with both feet in. It's been a great process," he said.

The Wizards like Diallo's defensive ability, his speed and awareness in the open floor and his potential to improve as a shooter. Diallo shot 33.8 percent from three on 2.1 attempts per game in the 2017-18 season.

"I hope to show my athleticism and how that plays a big part on the defensive end," Diallo said of his goals in pre-draft workouts.

"[The Wizards] are a team that wants to play fast and they have a fast point guard that needs players to keep up with him. That's what I tried to show in this workout, to show how fast I can play and show how composed I can play."

If the Wizards deem Diallo worth taking a chance on, he would provide a nice fit positionally. Though their second round pick could spend much of next season in the G-League, Diallo plays shooting guard and they have a need behind starter Bradley Beal. 

The Wizards see Tomas Satoransky as a possibility at backup shooting guard and Jodie Meeks is expected to return next season on a player option. But those guys were on the roster in 2017-18 and couldn't fill the void behind Beal, who logged more minutes than all but three players in the league. Meeks is also set to begin the 2018-19 season serving a suspension.

Diallo played at a big-time program and has the athleticism to compete at the NBA level early on. He could help a team improve long-term at guarding the perimeter, an area the Wizards have made strides in but still have a ways to go. That was seen in their playoff series against the Raptors when Toronto averaged 11.0 threes made per game and shot 41 percent.

Though it's early in the draft workout process, the Wizards have made it clear they are interested in Diallo.

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Wizards' second pre-draft workout to feature possible first-round pick, NCAA star

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Wizards' second pre-draft workout to feature possible first-round pick, NCAA star

The Wizards will have some recognizable names at their second pre-draft workout on Wednesday including potential first round pick Aaron Holiday of UCLA, NBC Sports Washington has learned.

Here is the list with some notes on each player...

Aaron Holiday, guard, UCLA (6-1, 185)

The brother of two NBA players (Jrue and Justin), Holiday played three years at UCLA and averaged 20.3 points, 5.8 assists and 1.3 steals as a junior. He also shot 42.9 percent from three on 6.2 attempts per game. He registered a 6-8 wingspan at the NBA Combine.

Potential fit with Wizards: possible first round pick, likely won't be there in second round; would solidify backup point guard position

Devonte' Graham, guard, Kansas (6-2, 175)

The Big 12 player of the year, Graham averaged 17.3 points and 7.2 assists as a senior. He posted a 6-6 wingspan at the combine. His uncle played for the Cincinnati Reds in the 1990s.

Potential fit with Wizards: second round pick; would provide backup point guard depth

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, forward, Kansas (6-8, 195)

A big-time three-point shooter, Mykhailiuk shot 44.4 percent from three on 6.6 attempts per game as a senior. He averaged 14.6 points and 3.9 rebounds.

Potential fit with Wizards: second round pick; could be a three-point threat off the bench

Moritz Wagner, center, Michigan (6-11, 241)

Originally from Germany, Wagner was a standout in the NCAA Tournament as the Wolverines went all the way to the final. He averaged 14.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.0 steals as a junior. He also shot 39.4 percent from three and measured at nearly 7-feet in shoes at the NBA Combine.

Potential fit with Wizards: second round pick; could develop into a capable stretch-five

Johnathan Williams, forward, Gonzaga (6-9, 225)

Williams began his career at Missouri before transferring. He averaged 13.4 points and 8.5 rebounds as a senior. 

Potential fit with Wizards: undrafted free agent; possible G-League forward

Zach Thomas, SF, Bucknell (6-7, 228)

Thomas was the Patriot League player of the year with averages of 20.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game as a senior. He shot 40 percent from three for his college career.

Potential fit with Wizards: undrafted free agent; possible G-League forward

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