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Thomas Robinson embraces return to D.C.


Thomas Robinson embraces return to D.C.

Thomas Wolfe once wrote the novel whose title has become part of the American lexicon: You cant go home again. Thomas Robinson clearly disagrees with Mr. Wolfe.On the verge of fulfilling his dream by playing in the NBA, the D.C. native and Kansas All-American power forward visited with the hometown Wizards on Wednesday. He would be fine if the Verizon Center became his professional home.Robinsons first individual team workout for before the June 28 NBA Draft had a pinch me quality.Growing up here, Ive always been a Wizards fan, said a grinning Robinson to a crowd of reporters huddled around the chiseled prospect outside the team's practice court. "This is a dream. This is big to me to be right here right now.It might also be the Wizards dream to select the double-double machine with the third overall pick.

Though the current mix of interior options has intriguing potential, the same can be said of the broad shouldered Robinson, who led the nation as a junior with 27 double-doubles and Kansas to the national championship game. The Wizards are likely to choose between Robinson, Florida guard Bradley Beal, Kentucky forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and North Carolina swingman Harrison Barnes. TheCharlotte Bobcats, owners of theNo. 2 pick, are also said to be interested in Robinson.The nearly 6-foot-9, 244 pounder grew up as a wannabe guard in the Southeast section of the city, rooting for his favorite Wizard, Gilbert Arenas and that Michael Jordan fella for that little bit of time. His high school playing days began at Eastern before starring at Riverdale Baptist and then matriculating to Brewster Academy in New Hampshire.Some athletes choose to follow Mr. Wolfes dictum, desiring a career away from the hometown diversions of home. Those considerations, Robinson said, factored into his decision to leave town for college. Now, ready to begin his professional career, Robinson embraces the opportunity. I feel much more mature than I was going into college, Robinson said. Its part of that challenge that I want to take on. There are distractions here, but thats just something I have to deal with. If I focus on basketball, I shouldnt have to worry about that."Robinsons nine-year-old sister remained in D.C. after his mother and both grandparents passed away during his sophomore season at Kansas.The following season Robinson entered the starting lineup after coming off the bench behind future NBA first round picks Marcus and Markieff Morris. He then powered his way into national spotlight, averaging 17.7 points and 11. 9 rebounds. Robinson'sprowess on the glass is an attractive trait for a Wizards team that ranked 26th in defensive rebounding last year. The test of helping his favorite team rebound and rejoin the league's best also plays into whythe 21-year-oldis excited about a potential return to the 202.Its a challenge I want to take on, Robinson said. I think if I want to get to the top of this league, to take on the challenge to come to this team and help them get over the hump, then I definitely would be considered one of those players.Seeing as the Wizards have not won the NBA title since the 1977-78 season, taking the local team to the Promised Land would indeed make the hometown kid one of those elite players. We'rejust over about two weeks from finding if Robinson will get that chance.

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How one half of assertive basketball may turn around the Wizards' season

How one half of assertive basketball may turn around the Wizards' season

The fat lady wasn’t warming up to sing an operatic number, not with 66 games left in the regular season. Then the flailing Washington Wizards, coming off consecutive double-digit losses, came out flat yet again. They trailed the Los Angeles Clippers by 19 points at halftime some 36 hours after the general public heard about their private quarrels and following weeks of basketball nightmares. 

So, she might have at least begun some mental prep for an upcoming performance. Then came the comeback within the comeback. The Wizards rallied for a 125-118 win when all the world was ready to say sayonara. 

Did Washington indeed save its season by outscoring Los Angeles 71-45 in the second half?

Answering 'yes' presumes all is right with the gang that has struggled to defend throughout the season and possibly has chemistry issues even a family therapist couldn’t fix with thrice-weekly sessions. 

The day began with coach Scott Brooks and the team’s stars addressing leaks of intense arguments among players and a scolding by All-Star John Wall directed to the head coach. There was no spark initially, just a dismal first half that saw them down 24 points and 73-54 at halftime.

The first half served as a season-long microcosm. It’s why rumors of breaking up the team seemed plausible. 

Over the remaining 24 minutes, the Wizards finally woke up. They flew around the court defensively and passed to the open man. The stars played like a team wanting to play each other, willing to do whatever necessary for a win.

John Wall finished with 30 points. Bradley Beal scored 27. Otto Porter grabbed 14 rebounds to go with 11 points. Six players scored in double figures. Everybody ate. 

“That’s how we need to play,” Bradley Beal told NBC Sports Washington.

“Not going to say everything is fixed because we were still down [24 points], still have a lot of work to do. Got a lot of to change and get better. Our effort was there in the second half. That’s the type of intensity we have to have for the full 48.”

Numerous moments and performances stood out in the second half beyond the main players. Tomas Satoransky’s hustle helped begin the turnaround. Thomas Bryant, who started with Dwight Howard sidelined, provided interior energy. Jeff Green dropped 20 points. Markieff Morris, coming off the bench for the first time since Feb. 29, 2016, showed more than in recent games.

One play deep in the fourth quarter showed the difference between 16 games of defensive slumber and Tuesday’s resolve. 

The clock ticked under five minutes with Los Angeles leading 109-107. Clippers forward Tobias Harris crushed the Wizards early and finished with 29 points. He had the ball near the left corner when Wall and Beal sprung an aggressive trap as the shot clock wound down. Morris hustled for support. The late arrival helped. Shot clock violation. The Wizards then took the lead with a Morris 3-pointer. They soon pulled away with an 11-2 run. Their main players showed the way.

“We have to,” Beal said to NBC Sports Washington. “When it’s coming from the main guys. John and I have to give more, more and more. That’s something we realize and tell each other that. That’s that only way we’re going to get out of it. We just have to give more.”

The Thanksgiving holiday provides a natural break.

Washington resumes game action Friday at Toronto. At 6-11, the Wizards have to do, but at least they can catch their breath after a surreal span. 

“It’s a whirlwind. It’s a whirlwind,” Beal said. “We embrace it. Everything is a challenge. It’s adversity. We’ve been in this situation before. We’ve been in this situation where everybody thinks we have an issue. I think we did a great job of ignoring it as best we could. Doing what we could to get a win. A  much-needed win at that.”

Clippers coach Doc Rivers monitors the Wizards because of his son, Austin, Beal’s primary backup. More film work came leading into the second meeting between the teams. Los Angeles hammered Washington 136-104 on Oct. 28. Things were only getting worse for the Wizards. Then came the second half.

“They just forgot about the stuff they’re going through and got back to playing basketball,” Doc Rivers said of the Wizards.

“I’ve always thought that’s what you have to do. Every guy out there on both teams, they played basketball all their lives. Then you get all the, what I call ‘stuff.’ The clutter starts affecting your game. Tonight you could see the clutter was killing them early. Then when they saw they had a chance to win, they started playing basketball again.”

Assume nothing but sunshine and swishes going forward if you must. Ideally, the Wizards do not. They have work remaining. In the second half against the Clippers, Wall, Beal, and crew rose up. In doing so, the fat lady took a seat.

We’ll see for how long.


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Markieff Morris unhappy with leaks coming out of Wizards' locker room

Markieff Morris unhappy with leaks coming out of Wizards' locker room

The Wizards had just completed a 24-point comeback against the L.A. Clippers, but something wasn't sitting right with power forward Markieff Morris.

When asked by a reporter if it was nice to get the win given their recent losing and the media controversy surrounding the team, Morris couldn't help but wonder who it was who leaked comments made by players behind closed doors at a practice last week.

There were very specific quotes cited by several media outlets and Morris wants to know where they came from. 

"It's f***ed up what's going on," he said.

"The comments that's coming from the locker room, that's f***ed up."

Morris went on to say that anonymous sources leaking information shouldn't "happen in sports." Many professional athletes see the locker room and team-only events like practice as sacred. Anyone who breaks that code is, in their eyes, a traitor.

If Morris knew who the information came from, it sounds like he would do something about it.

"I don't know who it is, so it's hard to address. But it's messed up," he said.

Which player or member of the organization spilled the beans could be a question for this team all season. It doesn't sound like Morris will forget that it happened.