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While Wizards hum, Heat out of sync


While Wizards hum, Heat out of sync

When it comes to NBA injuries, don't expect a sympathy card from the Washington Wizards. Yet in Wednesday's matchup with the Heat, the Wizards were actually the healthier team. Thanks to their start-to-finish 106-87 victory, they ensured Miami was the squad still searching for answers.

The Heat pounded the Wizards 97-75 on Jan. 3, a loss that put Washington down a losing path at home. Yet the South Florida team's fortunes turned south soon after. The injuries piled up. So did the losses.  Wednesday's was Miami's third straight and six in seven games. The forecast calls for more uncertainty for the remainder of their five-game home trip.

"Somebody get a violin before you ask a question," Heat forward Chris Bosh joked with reporters following the loss. "Get a nice little medley going in A-minor. A-minor is a sad note, right?"

Teams endure dips throughout an 82-game season. No doubt, Miami is in the midst of one now.

RELATED: Wizards roll back clock with super-size lineup

Dwyane Wade (sore shoulder) hoped to play, but couldn't. Goran Dragic, Miami's other starting guard, missed his fifth straight game with a calf strain. Three others also were unavailable from the start. Center Hassan Whiteside, whose defense fueled the win in Washington earlier in the month, left in the second quarter with a hip injury. Forward Luol Deng was inadvertently poked in the eye in the fourth quarter.

That's why Bosh passed on offering any plan-of-attack thoughts for Friday's matchup against the Raptors.

"I don't even know who is going to play in Toronto," he said after leading the Heat with 18 points.

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra knows his plan for Thursday.

"Our trainers will be busy. We have everybody on staff with us for a reason," he said. "They won't have a day of but the rest of the group will."

While the Heat were off-key, the Wizards were in rhythm from the start. Six players scored in double figures.

When it comes to the games, Spoelstra knows there are no nights off in the NBA, no pats on the heads from opponents.  With the slide, Miami (23-20) fell to seventh in the East. The up-and-down Wizards are two back, tied for 10th.

"This train keeps on going. Nobody is waiting for us. We don't expect anybody to wait for us. We'll be ready Friday night," Spoelstra said.

MORE WIZARDS: Wizards smoke Heat 106-87: Five takeaways

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Texas A&M big man Robert Williams likes potential fit with Wizards, John Wall

Texas A&M big man Robert Williams likes potential fit with Wizards, John Wall

In terms of the needs on their roster and the guys most likely to be available when they are on the clock at No. 15 in the first round, few players in this draft class seem as obvious a fit with the Washington Wizards more than Robert Williams of Texas A&M. So, it was no surprise that he not only visited them in Washington on Monday, but received the only individual public workout they have held during this year's predraft process.

Williams could be the answer to their longstanding quest for an athletic big man. No need to bring in five other guys for the usual six-player workout when Williams deserves a longer and more extensive look than most prospects they are considering.

The 20-year-old was put through a variety of drills Monday afternoon, just days before the 2018 NBA Draft. He likes the fit with Washington, if that's how things end up sorting out.

"I definitely feel like they could use a big like me, a defensive-style athletic big like me. I definitely see myself fitting here," he said.

Williams is one of the best big men in this year's draft. He is 6-foot-9 and 240 pounds with a 7-5 wingspan. He used that length to dominate in the paint at the college level.

Williams averaged a modest 10.4 points for the Aggies in 2017-18, but also 9.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks. That was his sophomore year. He averaged 8.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks as a freshman.

He was a shot-blocking force the day he stepped on campus and believes those skills will translate to the professional ranks. In the NBA, Williams believes he can thrive because his defensive versatility will be even more valuable in a day and age where switching is paramount.

"I feel like I can guard all positions. That’s one of my biggest attributes," he said. "It’s just about embracing it, having fun stopping a guard. Once you’re comfortable with it, you can do it."

Williams may adapt to the NBA quickly on the defensive end and that's where the Wizards need help the most. They haven't had a consistent rim-protector in years. Last season, point guard John Wall led the team in blocks per game.

Offense is where the questions lie with Williams. He wasn't a big scorer in college and does not have much of an outside shot. The fact he shot just 47.1 percent from the free throw line this past season suggests he has a lot of work to do before he can stretch the floor.

Williams will need to find a niche offensively, likely as a rim-runner off pick-and-rolls. He sees a lot of potential in a possible pick-and-roll pairing with Wall.

"He’s an elite passer and an elite guard. Coming off a pick-and-roll, you have to pay attention to him as well as have to pay attention to me as well. It’s a win-win situation," Williams said.

Williams believes his offensive game will open up with more space at the NBA level. The Wizards have Wall surrounded by three-point shooters in Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and Markieff Morris. Toss Williams into the middle and he could go to work in the paint doing the rest.

If Williams were drafted by the Wizards, he could look at Clint Capela of the Houston Rockets as a model to follow. Like Houston, the Wizards have two All-Star guards. An athletic big man who doesn't need plays run for him could be the perfect complement.

No one needs to tell Williams that, he is well-aware. He said that at nearly every stop during the predraft process Capela's name has come up.

"I knew that’s what you were going to say," Williams said to a reporter (raises hand) who asked about the Capela comparison.

Williams continued to say they are different players and it's not entirely fair to compare them. That exchange showed Williams has an edge to him, sort of like Morris. He's clearly not afraid to be honest when some players would not.

Despite downplaying the comparison, Williams can see what makes Capela successful.

"I’ve watched him. He’s a great player," Williams said. "He is around the right people. He just plays his role. He runs off a lot of screens. He gets up there and does what he has to do."

Williams is gearing up for Thursday's draft and trying to decide who he will walk the stage with, as the NBA has introduced a new tradition of each player walking with two people. He said it will likely be his mother and sister. Perhaps by the end of the night he will also walk that stage wearing a Washington Wizards hat.

For more on Williams, check out our extensive draft profile on him.

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Former Wizards forward arrested on armed robbery charges after stealing $100,000

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Former Wizards forward arrested on armed robbery charges after stealing $100,000

Former NBA player J.J. Hickson faces charges of armed robbery after breaking into a home near Atlanta, stealing $100,000 from the house, and physically assaulting a teenager who was inside, authorities said Monday, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Hickson, who played eight seasons in the NBA with four teams before his brief appearance in Washington, is currently being held in Coweta County Jail without bond. 

He is currently affiliated with the Lebanese Basketball League but played 15 games with the Wizards during the 2015-16 season. Hickson averaged 4.6 ppg and scored a season-high 15 points against the Nets in the penultimate game of the regular season. He has not played professionally in the United States since.  Hickson played just one season at North Carolina State before being selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the No. 19 pick of the 2008 NBA Draft.

Jimmy Yarbrough, the sheriff's spokesperson in Coweta, said that while at least two people were involved in the invasion, only Hickson is being held and charged.

According to authorities, Hickson entered through a side door, armed with a knife and his face and head covered. He was initially apprehended by another department and later transferred into the custody of Coweta County law enforcement. 

At this time in the investigation, very little detail is publicly available.

The teenage victim, whose name remains private, received medical treatment for several broken bones and is fortunately in good condition.