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Wall loses ground to Irving in 2nd round of All-Star voting


Wall loses ground to Irving in 2nd round of All-Star voting

The gulf between Kyrie Irving and John Wall widens when it comes to NBA All-Star fan voting, according to the second returns released by the league on Thursday.

Irving, who only has played seven games but electrified Verizon Center with 32 points in a dominant fourth quarter for the Cleveland Cavaliers to beat the Wizards on Wednesday, has gone from an edge of 35,000 above Wall in the first tallies Dec. 25 (138,191 to 103,094) to almost 64,000 votes ahead (271,094 to 207,274).

Wall was the starter last season for the East while Irving was the backup on the team.

The next ballot totals will be unveiled next Thursday and the voting closes Jan. 18. The top two backcourt players and two three frontcourt players in each conference will be the starters. The reserves, which seems a more likely route for Wall, will be chosen by NBA coaches on Jan. 28.

The All-Star Game will be played at Toronto's Air Canada Centre on Feb. 14.

If balloting ended today, these would be the East starters: LeBron James (Cavs), Paul George (Pacers) and Andre Drummond (Pistons); Dwyane Wade (Heat) and Irving (Cavs). 

West starters: Kobe Bryant (Lakers), Kevin Durant (Thunder) and Draymond Green (Warriors); Stephen Curry (Warriors) and Russell Westbrook (Thunder).

Carmelo Anthony (Knicks) is in range of Drummond, who is less than 6,000 votes ahead of him for the third and final frontcourt spot in the East. Wade appears to be a lock among the East guards with almost double Irving's vote totals (562,558). Kyle Lowry (Raptors) is less than 30,000 behind Irving for the starting point guard spot.

The closest race is in the West where Kawhi Leonard (Spurs) is less than 1,300 from unseating Green for the final frontcourt spot. Now No. 3, Green was fifth in the first round of voting, behind then-No. 3 Blake Griffin (Clippers) by about 22,000 votes and 4,000 behind Leonard. Griffin has plummeted to fifth, trailing Green by 34,000 in a major turnabout in voting.


East Frontcourt

1.          LeBron James (Cle) 636,388

2.          Paul George (Ind) 457,554

3.          Andre Drummond (Det) 261,158

4.          Carmelo Anthony (NYK) 255,536

5.          Pau Gasol (Chi) 209,006

6.          Chris Bosh (Mia) 194,429

7.          Kevin Love (Cle) 172,517

8.          Hassan Whiteside (Mia) 168,549

9.         Kristaps Porzingis (NYK) 160,170

10.        Giannis Antetokounmpo (Mil) 48,768

11.        Jonas Valanciunas (Tor) 30,023

12.        Marcin Gortat (Was) 27,185

13.        Joakim Noah (Chi) 23,121

14.        DeMarre Carroll (Tor) 22,797

15.        Paul Millsap (Atl) 21,625



1.          Dwyane Wade (Mia) 562,558

2.          Kyrie Irving (Cle) 271,094

3.          Kyle Lowry (Tor) 242,276

4.          Jimmy Butler (Chi) 220,429

5.          John Wall (Was) 207,274

6.          DeMar DeRozan (Tor) 170,539

7.          Derrick Rose (Chi) 159,787

8.          Jeremy Lin (Cha) 122,988

9.          Isaiah Thomas (Bos) 87,452

10.        Reggie Jackson (Det) 44,525


West Frontcourt

1.          Kobe Bryant (LAL) 1,262,118

2.          Kevin Durant (OKC) 616,096

3.          Draymond Green (GS) 332,223

4.          Kawhi Leonard (SA) 330,929

5.          Blake Griffin (LAC) 298,212

6.          Anthony Davis (NO) 261,491

7.          Tim Duncan (SA) 228,995

8.          Zaza Pachulia (Dal) 194,421

9.          DeMarcus Cousins (Sac) 190,060

10.        Enes Kanter (OKC) 183,468

11.        LaMarcus Aldridge (SA) 124,404

12.        Dwight Howard (Hou) 120,424

13.        Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 99,681

14.       DeAndre Jordan (LAC) 91,186

15.        Harrison Barnes (GS) 82,427



1.          Stephen Curry (GS) 925,789

2.          Russell Westbrook (OKC) 479,512

3.          Chris Paul (LAC) 268,672

4.          Klay Thompson (GS) 267,602

5.          James Harden (Hou) 249,877

6.          Rajon Rondo (Sac) 120,767

7.          Andre Iguodala (GS) 111,575

8.          Manu Ginobili (SA) 100,602

9.          Tony Parker (SA) 86,238

10.        Damian Lillard (Por) 81,035

RELATED: Dudley: Not knowing personnel bites Wizards again


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Dwight Howard improving, but status still unknown entering Wizards' season opener


Dwight Howard improving, but status still unknown entering Wizards' season opener

Dwight Howard may play in the Wizards' regular-season opener on Thursday night against the Miami Heat, but the team will not know until the day of the game and likely won't announce the decision either way until head coach Scott Brooks addresses the media about two hours before tipoff.

Howard only has three practices under his belt but has made significant progress throughout this week after missing all five of the team's preseason games due to a strain in his piriformis muscle.

Head coach Scott Brooks said Howard has looked good in those three practices but has a lot of missed time to make up for.

"I think he's definitely winded at times, but that's part of it," Brooks said.

Brooks added that Howard is not getting the same lift when jumping that he's used to. Howard, 32, is used to playing above the rim and his vertical leap is an important part of his game.

The Wizards play their first two games at home, the second on Saturday against the Raptors. They then embark on a Western Conference road trip beginning with the Blazers on Monday.

Brooks said Howard will "definitely" make that trip with the team, which gives a good indication of how close he is to returning to game action. When Howard is ready to play will be left up to the team's medical staff.

If Howard does miss time, the Wizards are expected to rely on his backup Ian Mahinmi as the starting center. Jason Smith would then become the No. 2 center on the depth chart, though they could use forwards like Markieff Morris or Jeff Green at the five-spot.

Howard signed a two-year free-agent deal worth $11 million to join the Wizards in July.


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John Wall and Bradley Beal will depend on each other more than ever in year 7

John Wall and Bradley Beal will depend on each other more than ever in year 7

The Wizards will only go as far as John Wall and Bradley Beal take them. There's just no other way around it.

The chemistry between Wall and Beal has been the dominant topic for years surrounding this team, and the magnifying glass will only be pushed closer this season, despite all of the other additions the Wizards made this offseason.

It's all about the backcourt. 

Luckily, both Wizards All-Stars understand and embrace the pressure. 

"We're opposites, but we're the same in a way," Beal told NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller. "He's more loud and outspoken, I'm more chill and relaxed, but you put us together, it's peanut butter and jelly."

Have you noticed that peanut butter and jelly always seems to be the go-to "good combination" for people? At least Beal didn't say something weird like tuna and bananas, although to each his own if that's what you like.

Anyway, more importantly, Wall understands this sandwich dynamic just as much as Beal does. Especially when the topic of a championship comes up. 

"I couldn't get it without him, and he couldn't do it without me," Wall said.  "I think that's the bond we have built, and it's gotten so much better each year."

One of the biggest reasons for divorce that we see in pro sports is ego. So many players don't understand what Wall alluded to. No matter how good you are, you can't do it alone. You need your wingman.

There were certainly rumblings or worries that Wall and Beal had their issues chemistry-wise earlier in their careers, but we're seeing two young stars grow as each season passes. 

That doesn't mean there still won't be times where they don't click. That's natural.

Keep in mind though, this is the seventh season the two will play together. The NBA is known to chew up and spit out young, inexperienced teams. The grind is part of the journey. Wall and Beal have had playoff success and failures, but they went through it together.

Now comes the time where those learning experiences become something they grow from, and use it to fuel a push to their ultimate goal – a championship.

And maybe a better peanut butter and jelly sandwich.