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Takeaways from Wizards' narrow win over Bulls behind John Wall's career-best for assists

Takeaways from Wizards' narrow win over Bulls behind John Wall's career-best for assists

That John Wall found his way on the court despite a sore left foot Friday wasn’t much of a surprise as the Wizards’ point guard doesn’t like to miss games.

He set a career-high with 20 assists in what was a closer-than-expected 112-107 win against the Chicago Bulls at Verizon Center to end a two-game losing streak and win the season series 3-1. Wall’s 14 points also game him his 45th double-double which is tops among East guards.

The Wizards (42-26) led by as many as 19 points in the first half but Denzel Valentine cut it to 87-81 in the fourth quarter with 10:06 left.

But there was too much firepower for Washington. Bradley Beal (24 points) knocked down a three-pointer and had three drives for buckets and Wall had a key basket and assist to kept it a two-possession game or better until Nikola Mirotic (15 points) buried a three to get to 104-102 in the waning minutes.

Ian Mahinmi (season-high 16 points) and Bojan Bogdanovic (12 points) led the bench for Washington.

The Bulls (32-37), who didn’t have Dwyane Wade who is out for the season with an elbow injury, were led by Robin Lopez (25 points, 12 rebounds) and Jimmy Butler (28 points).

They had a chance to tie it late but Butler missed a three.

[RELATED: John Wall forecasts early playoff exit, unless defense improves]

--The Bulls were held to 40 points at the half which was a significant improvement for the defense.  It was 13 fewer than the Mavericks scored, 28 fewer than the Sacramento Kings, 24 fewer than vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves and 30 fewer than the Portland Trail Blazers, etc. The Bulls, who are not good from long range, only made 1 of 8 threes and committed 12 turnovers in the first 24 minutes. The Bulls, however, scored 67 points in the first half. 

--Smith made his first start with Markieff Morris (flu) out. He was just two points shy of his season-high (17) at halftime.  Smith made 3 of 4 threes, a part of his game that hadn’t evolved when the season started. Smith shot 25% from three last season with the Orlando Magic but only attempted 16. He’s now 16 of 30 with Washington, or 53.3%. The most he has attempted in a season was two years ago with the N.Y. Knicks (42).

--Mahinmi had his best game of the season offensively. He was 8-for-11 from the field. He was able to finish shots at the rim off good set ups from Wall who was more focused on creating than scoring. He had consecutive buckets midway through the fourth on feeds from Brandon Jennings (three points, eight assists). The first was on a pick-and-roll and the next was a lob in secondary transition. It gave them breathing room for a 91-83 lead.

--Kelly Oubre (four points) had his best game in a while. He had some hustle plays, including a block of Valentine (11 points) in transition at the rim in the first half, that inspired better defensive play. When Jennings found Mahinmi on the pick-and-roll play mentioned previously, that extra possession was created because Oubre battled for the rebound off a miss by Bogdanovic. Oubre defended Butler on his attempt to tie the score at 110 but forced him to miss the three. Just as important, he didn't bite the pump fake to send him to the foul line. In his previous two games, Oubre played a total of 39 seconds. 

--At the end of the third quarter, Wall picked up his 13th technical foul of the season. He’ll be fined $4,000 and is three more from an automatic one-game suspension. It resets when the playoffs begin. Wall’s 20th assist came on a lob to Marcin Gortat (eight points, eight rebounds) late in the fourth.

[RELATED: Has NBA gotten 'softer'? John Wall says yes]

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Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Keita Bates-Diop

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Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Keita Bates-Diop

The Washington Wizards hold the 15th and 44th overall picks in the 2018 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects projected to be picked around where the Wizards will select...

2018 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Keita Bates-Diop

School: Ohio State
Position: Small forward/power forward
Age: 22
Height: 6-9
Weight: 224
Wingspan: 7-3
Max vertical: 35

2017/18 stats: 19.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.6 apg, 0.9 spg, 1.6 bpg, 48.0 FG%, 35.9 3PT% (1.9 3PT/5.4 3PA), 79.4 FT%
Player comparison: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 26th, NBADraft.net 41st, Bleacher Report 21st, Sports Illustrated 31st

5 things to know:

*Bates-Diop is a uniquely versatile player who could fit in very well with positionless basketball. He is the size of a small forward, but has the wingspan to play bigger and the athleticism to guard multiple positions. Defense could be the way he makes his name early on in his NBA career. He has proven uniquely adept at blocking shots for his size, averaging 1.6 per game as a redshirt junior. Whether that will translate to the NBA level, however, is a question. He will be guarding bigger, smarter and more athletic players.

*He is a very good rebounder, especially for his size. Bates-Diop grabbed rebounds consistently throughout his career and as a redshirt junior pulled in 8.7 per game. He had 20 games of double-digit rebounds in college and three times had 14 in a game. He had seven offensive rebounds against Robert Morris in a game last November.

*Bates-Diop was the Big 10 player of the year for the 2017-18 season. Some recent winners of the award include Denzel Valentine, Frank Kaminsky, Draymond Green, Trey Burke and Evan Turner.

*He was able to redshirt because he missed most of his junior season with a stress fracture in his left leg.

*Bates-Diop wasn't an elite three-point shooter in college, but he did make strides throughout his career. As a redshirt junior, he shot a modest percentage of 35.9, though the volume he made them was noteworthy. Outside shooting is always important for NBA wings and Bates-Diop would benefit from developing a consistent three-point shot. He will probably need to simplify his motion because his release is a bit slow.

Fit with Wizards: Bates-Diop would give the Wizards depth at two positions where they need it. He could slide into Mike Scott's role as the backup forward, spending much of his time behind Markieff Morris as a smaller four while giving them insurance at the three position behind Kelly Oubre, Jr.

Bates-Diop would add length and athleticism to the second unit and he and Oubre could make a dynamic combination defending the perimeter. They would have over 14 feet of wingspan between them.

Bates-Diop would have to prove himself at power forward at the NBA level before he can be projected as a starter in the long-term. Right now they have small forward solidified with Otto Porter.

Best highlight video:

More draft prospect profiles:

Kevin Knox, PF, Kentucky

Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech

Landry Shamet, PG/SG, Wichita State

Gary Trent, Jr., SG, Duke

Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami

Anfernee Simons, PG/SG, IMG Academy

Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton

Chandler Hutchison, SG/SF, Boise State

Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland

Mitchell Robinson, C, Western Kentucky

Troy Brown, SG/SF, Oregon

Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova

Moritz Wagner, PF/C, Michigan

Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

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Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Aaron Holiday

Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Aaron Holiday

The Washington Wizards hold the 15th and 44th overall picks in the 2018 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects projected to be picked around where the Wizards will select...

2018 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Aaron Holiday

School: UCLA
Position: Point guard
Age: 21 (turns 22 in Sept.)
Height: 6-1
Weight: 187
Wingspan: 6-8
Max vertical: 33

2017/18 stats: 20.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 5.8 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.2 bpg, 46.1 FG%, 42.9 3PT% (2.7 3PT/6.2 3PA), 82.8 FT%
Player comparison: Darren Collison
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 19th, NBADraft.net 24th, Bleacher Report 23rd, Sports Illustrated 23rd

5 things to know:

*Holiday played big minutes in all three seasons for the Bruins. As a junior, he broke out as an elite scorer, averaging 20.3 points while also dishing 5.8 assists per game. Holiday scored in a variety of ways, including at the free throw line where he averaged 5.8 attempts per game and knocked them down at 82.8 percent.

*He is a terrific three-point shooter, one of the best in this draft class based on his college numbers. He hit 42.9 percent of his shots and on 6.2 attempts per game. Holiday shot 42.2 percent from long range in his three-year college career and never shot below 41 percent in a season. He had some games where teams just couldn't stop him from long range. He made four threes or more in 13 college games. Twice he went 5-for-5 and he once made six threes against USC.

*Though he has the skillset to play off the ball as a shooting guard, his size will limit him at the NBA level. Holiday is just under 6-foot-1 in shoes and doesn't have the vertical leap to make up for it. He does, however, have a plus wingspan. At this point, Holiday seems to be solely a point guard, though as long as he's good at the position there is nothing wrong with that.

*Holiday worked out for the Wizards at Capital One Arena. He was part of their first week of predraft workouts and by all accounts had an impressive visit. He hit a lot of shots and fared well in the interview process.

*Holiday has two brothers currently in the NBA. Jrue is a former All-Star who starts at point guard for the New Orleans Pelicans. Justin is a shooting guard for the Chicago Bulls. His sister-in-law, Lauren, is a former member of the U.S. women's national soccer team.

Fit with Wizards: The Wizards already have a point guard in John Wall, so Holiday would have no long-term path to starting. That said, he would shore up a need the Wizards have been trying to address for years.

Backup point guard has been a real void for the Wizards for most of Wall's tenure. This past season they tried out all sorts of options between Tomas Satoransky, Tim Frazier, Ramon Sessions and Ty Lawson. Though Satoransky remains on the roster, the Wizards don't appear content with their depth at the position.

Holiday's ability to hit threes is very attractive to the Wizards who could conceivably play him off-the-ball alongside Wall, or even Satoransky. Given Wall (6-4) and Satoransky (6-7) are taller than most point guards, they could theoretically guard shooting guards on the other end.

Holiday would add smarts and shooting to the Wizards' bench in the short-term. In the long-term, he could help lengthen Wall's career by taking some of his workload away and also give the Wizards more options once Wall enters his 30s.

Best highlight video:

More draft prospect profiles:

Kevin Knox, PF, Kentucky

Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech

Landry Shamet, PG/SG, Wichita State

Gary Trent, Jr., SG, Duke

Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami

Anfernee Simons, PG/SG, IMG Academy

Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton

Chandler Hutchison, SG/SF, Boise State

Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland

Mitchell Robinson, C, Western Kentucky

Troy Brown, SG/SF, Oregon

Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova

Moritz Wagner, PF/C, Michigan

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