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With Dwight Howard's rehab taking wrong turn, loss to Pelicans shows how Wizards need him

With Dwight Howard's rehab taking wrong turn, loss to Pelicans shows how Wizards need him

On the same day they disclosed ominous news about Dwight Howard's injury, the Wizards were served a direct reminder of his absence in their 125-104 loss to the Pelicans on Wednesday night

That's not to say the Wizards were a juggernaut in the nine games Howard played. But they sure could have used him as they went up against Anthony Davis, Nikola Mirotic, Julius Randle and the Pelicans' fortified frontcourt. 

New Orleans out-rebounded the Wizards 64-38. They had 62 points in the paint compared to the Wizards' 38 and Washington only managed 16 free throw attempts. Also, with John Wall and Bradley Beal having off shooting nights, they could have used a big center to set screens to free them up. Those are all things Howard usually helps with.

Though the Wizards weren't perfect in those nine games with Howard, some splits suggest they have been markedly better with him than without him.

With Howard, the Wizards have allowed their opponents to score 112.6 points and grab 43.7 rebounds per game. In their 12 games without him, Wizards opponents have scored 122.5 points and averaged 51.8 rebounds per game. 

That means the Wizards are giving up nearly 10 more points per game without Howard than they are with him. That is a huge margin. 

With Howard, they have been a mediocre defense and without him they have been historically bad. Their 118.2 points allowed average per game this season is highest in the NBA and already on pace to be the worst since the 1990-91 Denver Nuggets.

So far, the Wizards are only 4-5 with Howard. But they are 4-8 when he's out of the lineup and they were out-rebounded in all eight of those losses.

Head coach Scott Brooks told reporters in New Orleans on Wednesday that Howard is off to see a nerve specialist in Los Angeles. He has apparently been shut down from basketball activities to seek another opinion after another setback.

Even when Howard was playing for the Wizards, he wasn't 100 percent. He couldn't spring above the rim like he's used to. That was exhibited by his four blocks in nine games. Last year alone, Howard had 11 games with four blocks or more. The guy blocks shots in his sleep.

But despite playing through pain, Howard still gave the Wizards a boost defensively and especially on the glass. That is extra-apparent in games against star big men like Davis, and up next is Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers.

As intriguing as Thomas Bryant is, and as versatile as Markieff Morris and Jeff Green have proven to be, there is a good chance the longer Howard stays out, the more the Wizards will want him back.

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John Wall nails seated trick shot, sits back and sips his coffee

John Wall nails seated trick shot, sits back and sips his coffee

John Wall hasn't played in an NBA game since December of 2018, but that hasn't stopped him from doing ridiculous things with a basketball. 

Ath the Wizards' shootaround Tuesday ahead of a big matchup with the 40-6 Bucks, Wall launched a baseline three while sitting on a chair and drilled it. 

Sure the shot was cool, but the best part was when he leaned back with his coffee in hand like he'd done it a thousand times before. 

Wall has been sidelined all season recovering from Achilles surgery, and while the team has yet to completely rule him out for the rest of the year, there isn't an expectation he returns before next season. 

Meanwhile, Wall's been showing promising signs in his recovery process, most notably his time at practice driving past defenders and trash-talking with a trainer

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Giannis Antetokounmpo out against Wizards with shoulder injury

Giannis Antetokounmpo out against Wizards with shoulder injury

Giannis Antetokounmpo won’t play against the Wizards on Tuesday night after the Bucks announced that he’s dealing with shoulder soreness.

There was no indication from Antetokounmpo before the announcement that he was dealing with any sort of injury. He played in Milwaukee’s previous game, a 116-103 win over the Hornets on Friday, in which he scored 30 points and recorded 16 rebounds after playing 32 minutes.

Tuesday’s contest represents the Bucks’ first game since the death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant.

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