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Where there's a John Wall, there's a way for Wizards to be victorious vs. Celtics

Where there's a John Wall, there's a way for Wizards to be victorious vs. Celtics

The final offensive play run by the Wizards actually was for Bradley Beal on the inbound pass, but when John Wall noticed it was breaking down he went to Plan B in Game 6 vs. the Boston Celtics. 

He was in the slot, not the corner or top of the three-point arc but at the 45-degree angle, which happens to be his favorite spot to launch three-pointers. With Avery Bradley sizing him up, Wall did the unthinkable to extend their season one more game.

"I didn't want to get a five-second violation so I came and got the ball from (Otto) Porter and looked the defender in the eye and took a shot I work on and it went in," said Wall, who began 1-for-12 but finished 8-for-13 in a 92-91 victory.

After Isaiah Thomas' heave at the end went awry, it marked the third time the Wizards won at Verizon Center this series. They're 6-0 here during the playoffs, but to advance to the conference finals they'll have to win at TD Garden. They haven't done that since the regular-season finale in 2014 vs. that was a 25-win team. 

[RELATED: Morris, Wall get laughs out of Celtics' funeral game attempt]

It's a shot that Celtics coach Brad Stevens could live with after all. Wall's only other game-winner this late in a game came vs. the Chicago Bulls in a 101-99 victory. Up until that point, he'd failed to do it in the final five seconds of a game in his seventh NBA season.

"We had our best on-ball defender on their All-Star," Stevens said of Wall, who shot just 32.7% from three in his seventh NBA season. "We're going to guard it as hard as we can and shake his hand and move on."

Whether or not actual handshakes will take place between teams that dislike one another so much following Monday's Game 7 will be an interesting footnote to a series that has been hostile. They've played a total of 10 times, including the regular season, and the home team has won each time (5-5). 

"I wasn't a great shooter coming in," said Wall, who made his first go-ahead three-pointer in the final 10 seconds of the regular season or playoffs. "That's something I had to work on. Nobody is going to come in as a perfect point guard, a perfect guy."

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Wall didn't have to be perfect. He had to just be better than Thomas who had 27 points but it took 24 shots. 

"Beal hits a three. That was his first three all game. Then the next play Wall gets to the foul line," said Thomas, who'd given Boston a 87-82 lead with a five-point burst with 94 seconds left in regulation. "You got to tip your hat to those guys. They kept fighting, but we played a hell of a game as well, too. At the end of the day, you'll live with a John Wall contested three-pointer from deep."

To win Game 7, the Wizards would prefer it doesn't come down to such a finish on the road. But coach Scott Brooks sounds confident in Wall if he has the ball at the end in a similar circumstance. 

"Not too many guys can do that," Brooks said of Wall's confidence to take the big shot despite his struggles shooting. "When I played, if I missed two shots I didn't think I was going to make the next shot. But he's a winner and he plays to win. He's not worried about his stats. He's worried about winning the game."

Wall hopped onto the scorer's table afterards to celeberate. When made aware of it, Beal, who had a game-high 33 points, did a double-take as Wall explained his actions.

"It was for how much love I have for this city, how much love I have for my teammates, how much fight we have," Wall said. "Never quitting. A lot of people doubted us in this series after going down 2-0. A lot of guys doubt us winning this game at home. The last two years we were in the playoffs we lost Game 6 here and we just had a lot of heart. I just wanted this city to know that we love them for all the support they gave us and they're amazing fans."

Can he give them a Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in four decades? The Wizards fell one win short of their goal of 50 for the regular season, but that would certainly make up for it.

[RELATED: Thomas thinks it's ridiculous Wizards were motivated by all-black stunt]

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Five observations from Wizards' 117-109 win over the Orlando Magic, including Jeff Green's takeover

Five observations from Wizards' 117-109 win over the Orlando Magic, including Jeff Green's takeover

The Washington Wizards beat the Orlando Magic 117-109 on Monday night. Here are five observations from the game...

Two in a row: The Wizards did something on Monday night they had yet to do this season. They won their second game in a row.

Now 4-9 on the season, the Wizards have some work remaining to regain respectability. But there were some encouraging signs. For instance, they won the rebounding margin for just the second time this season. They also made 13 threes.

This win, however, would have been a lot easier if they could lock down the three-point line. The Magic shot 15-for-30 from three. Perimeter defense continues to be a major blindspot for Washington.

Green dominated: Bradley Beal's comparison of Jeff Green to LeBron James all of a sudden doesn't sound so crazy.

Against the Magic, Green wasn't just good, he put the Wizards on his back and took over the game in the fourth quarter with a series of shots and defensive plays to keep Orlando at bay.

Green, who finished with 18 points in just 21 minutes, erupted for 10 points in the fourth quarter. He hit two threes in the frame and went 4-for-5 for the night. One of them bailed out Austin Rivers to beat the shot clock.

Green also had 19 points against the Heat on Friday. The veteran is playing well beyond expectations for the one-year contract he signed this summer. In the Wizards' past several games, he's given them starter production off the bench. 

Though Mike Scott was very good last season, Green is showing how he can do more because of how he can affect games defensively. It's no wonder why head coach Scott Brooks has relied on him in the fourth quarters of the last three games instead of starters.

Beal woke up late: With under five minutes remaining in the third quarter, Beal was ice cold. He had nine points on 3-for-13 shooting from the field and 0-for-6 from three.

But out of a timeout, Beal woke up and, like a button was pushed, took over the game. He began by sinking a tough layup off the glass. Moments later, he got his first three to fall. 

After that, he fed Dwight Howard for an and-1 on a drive set up by a slick behind-the-back move. And seconds later, he stole an errant pass and finished with a rim-bending slam on the other end.

Beal scored seven points in a stretch of about three minutes and almost singlehandedly erased what was a 10-point deficit to take the lead. He did what we saw him do so often last year. Despite struggling for more than half the game, he never wavered and found a way to get the ball in the rim.

Beal made something of his uneven night to post 21 points, eight rebounds and four assists. He proved once again that opposing teams can only keep him in check for so long.

Wall is heating up: Though John Wall has long been criticized for his outside shot, many forget he set a career-high last season by shooting 37.1 percent from three on 4.1 attempts per game. That wasn't bad at all and it looks like Wall may be finding that stroke once again.

After a slow start out of the gate, Wall has been on fire from three recently. He went 2-for-3 against the Magic and is now 16-for-37 in his last seven games. That's good for 43.2 percent.

Wall may never be a lights-out marksman from long range. But he is becoming more than respectable as a perimeter threat.

Mahinmi played again: It appears that Ian Mahinmi has earned his job back. He was benched for three straight games, but has now played in each of the past two. 

Similar to the win over the Heat on Friday, Mahinmi did his part with a minimal, but noticeable impact on the game. He had a nice weakside block in the first quarter. Jarell Martin drove left and got by his man and Mahinmi helped by stepping across the lane to swat it out of bounds.

That's what they need Mahinmi to do, play defense and not get in the way on offense. When he's not affecting games on the defensive end, his other shortcomings become magnified. Through two games, he's done enough to probably stay in the rotation for the time being.

While Mahinmi is back in the rotation, Otto Porter Jr. appears to be in the relative doghouse. This was the third straight game he has sat out the fourth quarter. Markieff Morris was in the same boat for two games, but got the nod against Orlando.

Some of it is simply Brooks rolling with the hot hand. But Brooks must not like something Porter has been doing lately. The best guess is his defense, as Jonathan Simmons, among others, was getting past Porter with regularity in this one.


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Wizards releasing Chasson Randle opens roster spot, possibilities

Wizards releasing Chasson Randle opens roster spot, possibilities

The Washington Wizards released guard Chasson Randle Monday. The additional space – the Wizards had one vacant roster slot even with Randle – brings up the question of what the team may do next. For now, don’t expect a blockbuster move.

Head coach Scott Brooks briefly addressed the move ahead of Monday’s game against the Orlando Magic.

“He’s a terrific young man, a very good player,” Brooks said of Randle. “Just gives us more flexibility. Who knows what we might do with it. He’s definitely an NBA player.”

Randle, who Washington signed to the active roster on Oct. 30, likely clears waivers, and then would rejoin the Capital City Go-Go, Brooks said. It’s been a back-and-forth scenario for Randle between the Wizards and their G-League squad this season. The 6-foot-2 guard was on the Go-Go roster when Washington’s season tipped off and assigned to the G-League squad at the time of Monday’s release. Randle scored 37 points in the Go-Go’s inaugural game. He did not enter a game for Washington.

The Wizards were forced to add a player by Oct. 30, a date that marked two weeks from the time Washington traded Jodie Meeks to Milwaukee. League rules require a minimum of 14 players on the roster.

That two week timeline applies to the current scenario. For now, the Wizards save a bit on the luxury tax payment by waiving Randle, who was signed to a $1.24 million non-guaranteed contract. Considering he'll likely be back in the building, Randle returning to the Wizards roster is a consideration.

According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, adding Randle cost the Wizards approximately $239,000 in luxury tax payments. Washington saved approximately $8 million by dealing Meeks.

As Brooks acknowledged, the open spots create greater flexibility.  In wake of the Timberwolves trading disgruntled All-Star Jimmy Butler to the 76ers, multiple reports at least tangentially mentioned the Wizards’ as part of the mix.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Washington balked at including Bradley Beal. SI.com’s Chris Mannix reported teams are keeping tabs on the 3-9 Wizards in case role players like Jeff Green, Markieff Morris or Kelly Oubre Jr. become available should the slow start continue.

Randle’s release limits Washington’s backcourt depth, but the top four options are healthy entering its five-game home-stand. In theory two-way contract player Jordan McRae could be recalled from Capital City, but the wing guard is dealing with a groin injury, according to a source. McRae should be available later in the week.