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Wizards top Timberwolves 114-101 in 1st Wall start

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Wizards top Timberwolves 114-101 in 1st Wall start

WASHINGTON (AP) John Wall had 14 points and five assists in his first start of the season, and the no-longer-last Washington Wizards finally hit double digits in wins Friday night with a 114-101 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Wall, who came off the bench for the first seven games after his return from a knee injury, had assists on the Wizards' first two baskets in a game in which Washington never trailed. He wowed the crowd with a nice spin move for a layup late in the first half and went 6 for 10 from the field in 21 minutes, his playing time still limited after missing 33 games with a stress injury to his left knee cap.

The Wizards are 5-3 since Wall's return after going 5-28 without him. They've won four straight at home and no longer sit at the bottom of the NBA, their 10-31 record a half-game better than the Charlotte Bobcats' 10-32.

Jordan Crawford added 19 points, and Bradley Beal had 16 points and a career-high four blocks for the Wizards, who shot a season-high 58 percent. Beal had the best sequence for anyone not named Wall: The rookie chased down Luke Ridnour to block a fast-break layup, crashed into the front row, got up and hit a jumper at the other end to make the score 70-51 in the third.

Derrick Williams had 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Andrei Kirilenko scored 17 points for the Timberwolves, who have lost six straight on the road and eight of nine overall. Ricky Rubio, who, like Wall, has been playing limited minutes after returning from a knee injury, had four points, six assists, five rebounds and five turnovers, a day after apologizing to acting coach Terry Porter for an outburst over the team's loss earlier this week to the Brooklyn Nets.

Rubio was upset that he sat out the final minutes of the Timberwolves' 91-83 loss Wednesday night. With head coach Rick Adelman away tending to his sick wife, Porter and Rubio met Thursday to clear the air.

``I don't think it ever was really an issue,'' Porter said. ``He was frustrated like any player would be who wants to be playing the fourth quarter.''

Rubio had been on a strict limit of 28 minutes per game since returning last month from reconstructive left knee surgery, but he played 31 minutes Friday night for the depleted Timberwolves, who are missing Kevin Love, Brandon Roy, Malcolm Lee, Chase Budinger, Nikola Pekovic and Alexey Shved - all with injuries.

The Wolves never made anything resembling a run to get back in the game after the first quarter. The Wizards led by four after the first, by 18 at halftime and by 18 after three.

Notes: Washington's 60 first-half points tied a season-high. ... The Wolves got to the free-throw line without much problem, but they converted only 20 of 33. ... With Wall's return to the starting five, the Wizards used their 15th starting lineup of the season. ... Wolves C Greg Stiemsma committed two fouls in 9 seconds in the first quarter, then picked up another quick one in the second quarter. He played only 18 minutes - but he finished with a career-high six assists.

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Follow Joseph White on Twitter:http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

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Derrius Guice understands why Redskins fans are frustrated, but he's looking ahead

Derrius Guice understands why Redskins fans are frustrated, but he's looking ahead

Derrius Guice is a very positive person. Unfortunately, he's playing for a team right now that's shrouded in negativity.

The Redskins have played 10 games this season, and they've walked off the field as losers in nine of those contests. They've gotten rid of their head coach, and many are wondering how many other major changes will come.

And when it comes to the fans, many — if not most — are furious with the direction of the franchise. Guice is noticing that, too.

"It just sucks when I score, or someone else scores, and our team posts a picture to Instagram or Twitter and everything under it is just, 'Fire this, fire that, we suck," Guice told JP Finlay in a 1-on-1 interview on the Redskins Talk podcast. "That doesn't help anything."

The running back understands that frustration. However, he wants those who are angry to know one thing: While this current roster is obviously responsible for the 2019 issues, they aren't responsible for the two-decade-long slump that's affected the organization.

"I'm new here," Guice said. "I understand some of these fans have been here 20-30 years, but like, there's a lot of guys on this team that are new. Y'all can't bring all that negativity to us like we've been here 20 years. I don't think that's fair to us players."

That's what makes this situation so difficult for those on the field and those who watch those on the field. Fans have been on this unsatisfying ride for far too long, yet most of the players hopped on a stop or two ago. 

So people who post those hateful comments or send those angry DMs are doing so because they've seen a handful of free agency and draft classes bust, and because they've seen numerous coaches come in and fail, and they've been lied to repeatedly about how "close" the Redskins are. They aren't necessarily trying to take it out on Guice or Dwayne Haskins or Landon Collins, it just appears that way.

Guice, for one, is trying his best to improve how he handles that side of being an athlete. He's also choosing to focus on those who've stayed on his side through what's been a trying first couple of seasons in the league.

For all the negativity he encounters, he's grateful for those who remain positive like him.

"A guy that's been there two years and has only played two real games, there's a lot of fans that have still never left my side since I got drafted," Guice said. "That's something I always have to cherish."

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Report: Phillies sign another National, bring on assistant hitting coach Joe Dillion

Report: Phillies sign another National, bring on assistant hitting coach Joe Dillion

When you win a championship the way the Nationals did, other teams are going to try and capture that magic in any way they can. 

Of course, Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg are at risk of leaving town and free agency, but now the Davey Martinez will have to make changes to his coaching staff as well. 

According to Jim Salisbury, the Phillies hired Washington's assistant hitting coach Joe Dillon as their new hitting coach under manager Joe Girardi. 

Working with hitting coach Kevin Long, Dillon helped the Nationals lead the national league in on-base percentage while ranking second in batting average and OPS. 

The Phillies struggled at the plate in 2019, ranking 22nd in batting average, 19th in on-base percentage and 17th in OPS. Despite acquiring Bryce Harper, Jean Segura and JT Realmuto last offseason, Philadelphia boasted an anemic offense under former hitting coach John Mallee. 

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