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Breaking down John Wall's award-winning month of December

Breaking down John Wall's award-winning month of December

John Wall was named the Eastern Conference's player of the month on Tuesday for December, a month in which he helped lead the Wizards to a 10-5 record. They turned their season around after a slow start and Wall's amazing month was a big reason why.

Here is a look back on Wall's month of December. First, some stats. Then, some highlights:

- Wall averaged 24.5 ppg in December (5th in East, 10th in NBA), 10.7 assists (2nd in NBA) and 2.67 steals (1st in NBA)

- 24.5 ppg in December of 2016 is highest ppg average in a single month for Wall

- Wall averages 10.2 apg in December in his career, more than any other month

- Wall is currently averaging 23.4 points, 10.1 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game. Only Russell Westbrook has averaged at least 23 points, 10 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals per game in a full season, a feat he accomplished last year. Wall currently holds a higher FG percentage (46.3) and three-point percentage (32.4) than Westbrook did.

- Wall is one of three players currently averaging a points-assists double-double. Wall has averaged a points-assists double-double in each of his previous two seasons.

- Wall won his first Eastern Conference player of the month award in December of 2015

- Wall’s December 2016 included a 52-point performance on 12/6 against the Orlando Magic. Wall is one of eight players to drop at least 50 points in a game this year, which already ties an NBA record for most such games in one NBA season. 

Now take a look at Wall's five best plays from the month:

Wall throws down big dunk vs. Nets 12/30

Wall hits big shot in final minute vs. Pacers 12/28

Wall sets franchise steals record against Hornets 12/14

Wall beats buzzer to end first quarter against Hornets 12/14

Wall talks trash to Marco Belinelli after layup 12/14

[RELATED: Wizards-Bucks game time changed for Packers playoff]

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Wizards vs. Heat: TV channel, Time, Live stream, how to watch

Wizards vs. Heat: TV channel, Time, Live stream, how to watch

The Wizards snapped a three-game losing streak with a nice win over the Pistons on Martin Luther King Day. 

They won't be able to celebrate for long though as they hit the road to play an extremely good Miami Heat team just a couple of weeks after the Wizards beat them without Bradley Beal. 

Can Washington shock everyone once again and continue to play their best against great teams? Here's what you need to know to watch and find out. 

WIZARDS vs. HEAT HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards vs. Miami, Game 43

Where: American Airlines Arena, Miami FL

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Wizards vs. Heat will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards vs. Heat on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS vs. HEAT TV SCHEDULE

6:30 PM: Wizards Outsiders

7:00 PM: Wizards Pregame Live 

7:30 PM: Wizards vs. Heat

10:00 PM: Wizards Postgame Live 

10:30 PM: D.C. Sports Live 

11:00 PM: Wizards Talk 

WIZARDS vs. HEAT INJURY REPORT:

Wizards: Rui Hachimura (OUT, groin), Garrison Mathews (OUT, ankle), Moe Wagner (OUT, ankle),  John Wall (OUT, Achilles)

Heat: Jimmy Butler (Day-to-day, hip), Justise Winslow (OUT, back)

 

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Why Wizards point guard Ish Smith purposefully never dunks in games

Why Wizards point guard Ish Smith purposefully never dunks in games

WASHINGTON -- Go to a Washington Wizards game these days and you may see point guard Ish Smith do many things. He has a mean crossover, is shooting threes like never before in his career and he's a blur up and down the court.

What you will basically never see Smith do is dunk. He hasn't thrown one down in a game since the 2017-18 season. He dunked twice that year, down from four times the season before and down from his career-high of eight the year before that.

Smith has basically eliminated dunking from his game. It's not that he can't, he just chooses not to. And it's for a good reason.

Now in his 10th NBA season, Smith believes the wear-and-tear that comes with dunking isn't worth it at this point.

"I'm saving my legs," he told NBC Sports Washington. "I was watching something and Steve Nash was talking about how he played when he got older - on the ground, pretty much on land. He was preserving his energy because he moved a lot, cut a lot [with] ball-handling and different things like that. I try to preserve all that."

Smith, 31, has achieved a rare level of longevity in the NBA. He went undrafted in 2010, yet has lasted a decade in the NBA as a 6-foot tall point guard. The Wizards are his 11th team, one off the NBA record.

There is an old adage in the NBA that each dunk takes a game off your career. Many things can happen when players are high up in the air and risking contact, but also the simple act of jumping and landing can take its toll on joints and ligaments.

Smith has carved out the career he has by making sacrifices, and that includes dunking. Even when he is alone on a fastbreak, he will just lay it in.

"Yeah, you get breakout layups and stuff like that," he said. "I guess because I have done it, but it's not as tempting as used to be. It's just like get these two points and get back."

When he was younger, Smith would dunk when he had the opportunity. Now he says he's kind of over it.

"I had some dunk-ons [back in the day]. But as I got older, I realized it ain't all that," he said.

Smith now prides himself on a wide array of release angles on layups around the rim. He can finish with his right and left hand, in traffic and off-balance. He can double-clutch and use the glass.

Smith has a way of sneaking under bigger defensive players and timing layups to avoid blocked shots. It's a big part of his game.

But maybe someday soon we will see Smith dunk again in a game. Perhaps he will do so, just to show everyone he's still got it.

"[I dunked] the other day when we were in Toronto, after practice," he said. "After that, I was like 'oh no, I don't know why I did that.'"

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