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Wizards G John Wall returns from knee injury

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Wizards G John Wall returns from knee injury

WASHINGTON (AP) A little over midway through the first quarter, John Wall stood up in front of the Washington Wizards' bench and removed his warm-up jacket. Applause rippled around the half-full arena.

When the whistle next blew, with 4:56 to play in the quarter, the team's franchise player walked onto the court to a standing ovation. Wall gave a very quick salute to the crowd, tied his shorts and took his place near the free-throw line.

The former No. 1 overall pick is back, making his season debut in Saturday night's 93-83 win over the Atlanta Hawks.

Playing his first game since being diagnosed with a stress injury to his left kneecap in September, Wall played 21 minutes and scored 14 points, going 5 for 11 from the field and 4 for 5 from the free-throw line.

Wall's first highlight was a fast-break assist to rookie Bradley Beal, the kind of play the Wizards envisioned from a speedy Wall-Beal backcourt when they drafted Beal at No. 3 overall last June.

Wall was expected to miss about two months when his injury was announced Sept. 28. He began increasing his basketball activity last month, but it wasn't until Wednesday that he had his first full-throttle practice with the team. After three consecutive days of pain-free workouts, Wall was given medical clearance Friday to suit up.

Wall still needs to work on his conditioning and is having his minutes carefully monitored by coach Randy Wittman.

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Ravens kicker Justin Tucker named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week

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Ravens kicker Justin Tucker named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week

It's just Justin Tucker doing Justin Tucker things.

The Ravens' kicker has been named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week, the team announced Wednesday. This is the eighth time in his career he's been awarded the honor.

During the team's Week 3 27-14 win against the Denver Broncos, Tucker nailed not one, but two field goals from 52-yards out. He's made eight straight from beyond the 50.

Besides being the most accurate kicker in the history of the NFL, the 28-year-old has made 100 percent of the Ravens' extra point attempts. 

In 2016, JT became the ninth kicker in NFL history to kick three 50+ field goals in a single game and is the first kicker in NFL history to kick a field goal from 20-, 30-, 40-, 50- and 60-yards in a single game. 

On top of being a two-time Pro Bowler, he is the fastest kicker in NFL history to make 100 field goals and to reach the 500-point milestone. His longest field goal is 61-yards.

With the way things have been going for kickers in the NFL of late, Ravens fans can truly appreciate Tucker and his insane leg. 

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Bradley Beal and Otto Porter, Jr. offer advice for Kelly Oubre, Jr.

Bradley Beal and Otto Porter, Jr. offer advice for Kelly Oubre, Jr.

Wizards forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. doesn't need to look far to find a blueprint for success this season, the final year of his rookie scale contract. Both Bradley Beal and Otto Porter, Jr. were in the exact same situation, and while they were teammates with Oubre. Each of them knocked the test of a contract year out of the park.

Both Beal and Porter earned max deals from the Wizards after breakout seasons in contract years. Oubre, of course, would like to make a lot of money for himself. When asked to share advice for Oubre, Beal and Porter spoke their piece in different ways, but the message ultimately was much the same. 

Beal spoke in-depth and with his trademark even-keel approach. Porter was characteristically brief.

"Don't worry about it. It will take care of itself," Beal told NBC Sports Washington. "I'm not gonna sit here and say that it's easy to do because it's your brand, it's your life, it's your money... but I always say that with your money you are going to get rewarded and taken care of at the end of the day."

"Just continue to work hard and everything else will take care of itself," Porter said.

Beal sees some similarities in Oubre and Porter and not just because they play the same position as small forwards. Oubre, like Porter in the 2016-17 season, has to operate in a secondary role. Beal was a central focus of the offense in 2015-16, his contract year.

"It will be tough to do because you've gotta think [Oubre] is coming off the bench," Beal explained.

"I always use Otto as an example. Otto did everything he was supposed to do, everything coach asked him to, everything the organization asked him to and he got rewarded for it. It's plain and simple. His game is simple, honestly. I feel like Kelly can be the exact same way... It's just a matter of him staying level-headed and just not worrying about it too much."

If Oubre has any questions, Beal seems like the guy to go to. It's clear in talking about Oubre that Beal genuinely cares for him and his future.

Beal also cares for the future of the Wizards and would like Oubre to remain in Washington.

"Kelly is super-athletic. The sky is the ultimate limit for him," Beal said. "He is somebody who has star potential, somebody who we are crazy to think that other teams aren't going to try to go after him. We've gotta realize that."

Beal said he will do his part to help Oubre, if the fourth-year forward needs it. Having been there before, he feels like he can be a resource.

"He's like my little brother, so as much as I can I will try to keep him level-headed and try to not keep him focused on it. It's definitely easier said than done," Beal said.

Technically, Oubre could sign a new deal with the Wizards before the Oct. 15 deadline for rookie scale contract extensions, but those types of deals are relatively rare. Only a handful of players sign them each year. And for the Wizards, their salary situation beyond this season is bloated with $116.4 million committed to six players. That includes the raise John Wall will receive in the first year of his max contract extension.

Oubre also may be better served by waiting it out. Beal and Porter bet on themselves and won out. As long as Oubre can stay healthy and continue to develop this season, he should follow suit.

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