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Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis get revenge on their former team as the Wizards blitz the Bulls

Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis get revenge on their former team as the Wizards blitz the Bulls

The Washington Wizards beat the Chicago Bulls 134-125 on Saturday night. Here are five observations from the game...

1. So, the new-look Wizards might be kind of fun.

For the second straight night, they blasted an opponent with a balanced scoring effort, lots of dunks and Bobby Portis screams into the crowd.

Things, of course, won’t always be this easy. They just beat up on the Bulls one night after smashing the Cavs. Those two teams place among the four-worst records in all the NBA.

The road will get a bit tougher on Monday against the Pistons and then extremely difficult on Wednesday in Toronto in their final game before the All-Star break. 

But the early returns on the Wizards after their pair of trades on Wednesday are good. They play hard, they can score and they at least have enough to win against the bad teams.

The two straight wins follow a stretch of five losses in six games. The Wizards are 10th in the conference with a shot at the 9th-place team, Detroit, up next. At 24-32, Washington is two and a half games behind the 8th-place Miami Heat, who play the Warriors on Sunday.

2. Friday was Portis’ time to shine. On Saturday, it was all about Jabari Parker.

The new Wizards forward had a classic revenge game, tormenting his former team to the tune of 20 points on 9-for-15 shooting. He also added six assists, five rebounds, two blocks and a steal.

Parker clearly had an ax to grind coming into this game based on his comments the day before about his frustration with the Bulls coaching staff. And his quest for vengeance seemed to translate in a variety of powerful dunks. He wasn’t just there to score. He was there to punish the rim.

Parker led a huge effort from the Wizards bench. They scored 64 points compared to 38 for the Bulls reserves. Chasson Randle pitched in with a career-high 20 points.

The Wizards gave up a good player in Otto Porter Jr., but already it’s clear how they improved their depth in this week’s trades. They basically got three players for one in their rotation since Markieff Morris hadn’t played in weeks due to injury.

3. As expected, it was strange to see Porter in a Bulls jersey going up against his former Wizards teammates.  What was unexpected was some of the plays he made.

Porter came out with some extra zip in the first quarter. He was more aggressive than we are used to seeing him, attacking the rim and finishing through traffic. 

Porter ended up with 17 points and two steals. As much as there is to like about the Wizards’ side of the trade – they got two nice players and some much-needed financial flexibility – the Bulls did well for themselves. He is a nice fit with what they are building.

Porter is a good veteran complement to Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. Add in whomever they get with their 2019 first round pick, which should be a top selection, and they will have a solid group to build around. 

Porter’s contract was a problem in Washington, but they can manage it in Chicago with young players who have yet to break the bank.

4. The Wizards had their best offensive first half in over a decade. They dropped 76 points against the Bulls, their most in a first half since 2006, back when Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison were lighting it up in the good old days.

The Wizards shot 57.1 percent overall in the first half and 10-for-18 from three. Their bench outdid that of the Bulls, 35-15. They blitzed them in the second quarter with 42 points.

It has helped the Wizards played Cleveland on Friday and then the Bulls, but their new-look roster has already shown some serious offensive potential. Everyone knows Parker can score and both Portis and Wes Johnson can stretch the floor.

5. There is a new Wizards injury to monitor as Jeff Green did not return after halftime with tightness in his left hip. He was replaced by Parker in the lineup to begin the third quarter.

Green can be added to the Wizards’ list of injuries that includes Troy Brown Jr., who is not expected to return until after the All-Star break due to his left ankle sprain. Then, of course, there is John Wall who is out for the year and Dwight Howard, who does not appear close to returning.

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The Wizards are keeping a very close eye on John Wall in his recovery, and he prefers it that way

The Wizards are keeping a very close eye on John Wall in his recovery, and he prefers it that way

This week is Wall Week at NBC Sports Washington. We are rolling out content each day centering around the Wizards' five-time All-Star point guard. Today, we examine how the Wizards are closely monitoring his rehab from a ruptured left Achilles...

With $170 million committed to John Wall over the next four years, the Washington Wizards will do everything they can to make sure they get his rehab from a ruptured Achilles right. The future of their franchise depends on it.

So, in order to certify that things are going well, there is a team of people at work. Jesse Phillips, the Wizards' director of player performance and rehabilitation, has spent much of his summer in Miami, FL where Wall makes his offseason home. Steve Smith, the team's senior director of health wellness and performance, flies in to be with Wall Monday through Thursday.

Wizards assistant coach Alex McLean leads Wall through his on-court workouts, which at this point feature only light basketball activities. General manager Tommy Sheppard and head coach Scott Brooks have also made the trek to South Florida to check on Wall. And Dr. Daniel Medina, the Wizards' new chief of athlete care and performance, has been involved, making sure all of those playing a role in Wall's recovery are on the same page. 

Wall also has his own people who are Miami-based. He has a physical trainer, Dr. Brett Fox, who counts many professional athletes as his clients including Wall's former teammate Jeff Green and NFL wide receiver Allen Hurns. And Wall has a personal trainer, Andy Luaces at Core Fitness, who has worked with Green, Hornets point guard Terry Rozier and many college and pro football players who reside in the Miami area.

There are a lot of people working with Wall and monitoring his progress. His rehab is being so closely managed that he joked at a recent charity event: "I feel like I'm in solitary [confinement]."

Keeping tabs on Wall's recovery goes beyond simply having people there to see it. Phillips and Smith prepare reports on Wall's daily progress. Those notes, sometimes paired with video, are sent to top executives in the organization including managing partner Ted Leonsis. 

Leonsis doesn't just skim past them in his email inbox, either.

"I used to start my day reading the Washington Post. Now I start my day reading [and watching] my daily John Wall exercise video," Leonsis said.

Part of the reports include Wall's weight. He weighs in towards the beginning and end of each month to track his progress. 

All of it makes for a painstakingly detailed process. But despite being the subject of all that attention, Wall doesn't mind being micromanaged.

"It’s great for me, to understand that the organization I give my all to and the city I give me all to has my full support and believes I can come back to be the player I am," Wall told NBC Sports Washington. 

"That’s the best-case scenario. I’ve seen guys who have been with organizations that didn’t really stand by those guys. To have Ted and Tommy and all those guys, Coach Brooks, the whole D.C. community or DMV, has my support, it means a lot to me."

"John knows that. We text and talk all the time," Leonsis said. "I think great athletes think that’s fantastic. We care about him."

Wall, who turns 29 next month, is entering his 10th NBA season. He has been around long enough to have undergone several significant injury rehabs. He has made plenty of friends in the league and has heard how other organizations have treated their injured players.

Wall believes the Wizards are doing things right and in part by expressing almost extreme patience. Everyone from Leonsis on down has said that Wall has no defined timeline to return. They will be understanding even if he has to miss all of the 2019-20 season to make a full recovery.

Wall says that patience isn't there in other situations.

"To know they have my back and that I don’t have to rush back, it’s the best [situation] ever," Wall said. "A lot of guys have been in this position and they have to rush back from injuries. I don’t have to do that. I can take my time."

How much time Wall will end up taking seems to be very much up in the air. Leonsis said at a press conference last month said that Wall "probably won't play at all next year." But in order for that to happen, Wall's rehab would stretch to an unusually long amount of time.

The return timeline for a ruptured Achilles is generally 11 to 15 months. The 11-month mark is in January when three months of the season will still remain. He could even take 13 months, one month longer than most players have had in the past, and still return to play 15-20 games.

Missing all of next season would mean Wall waits 20 months following his surgery to return to NBA game action. That is a long time, especially considering Wall is in a precious window of his athletic prime.

But Wall, at least at this point, insists he is in no rush.

"I’m enjoying it. It’s a fun process," he said. "It’s not boring like a lot of people told me it would be. I love the challenge."

What may ultimately be tough to balance is that patience coupled with Wall's competitive drive. When the regular season is in full swing and the Wizards are where they are in the standings, will Wall be willing to stay on the sidelines?

Because as much as Wall says the right things about taking the long view and being understanding if doctors say he should sit out all of next year, he can't help but also issue warnings to his critics, the stuff that suggests he has some urgency to get back in due time.

"I love to hear everybody talking about ‘oh he will never be it again, John Wall is done.’ That motivates me more every day," he said. "I wake up and say ‘I’m going to prove somebody wrong.’"

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Washington Mystics set WNBA record for most 3-pointers in a single game without Kristi Toliver

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Washington Mystics set WNBA record for most 3-pointers in a single game without Kristi Toliver

WASHINGTON – Shey Peddy rarely gets to see the floor as a part of the WNBA-leading Washington Mystics. Sunday was only the 10th game of her WNBA career, playing in garbage time of what was going to be another dominant Mystics victory. 

She only managed three points on one made basket, but it was perhaps the biggest basket of the night. As Peddy, 30, caught a pass at the wing in her right hand, she quickly squared up and delivered a 3-point basket for Washington. It was the Mystics’ 18 such basket from range on the day, a new WNBA record. 

This is just the latest in the plethora of record-breaking performances for the Mystics in 2019. A massive 107-68 victory over the Indiana Fever is starting to feel habitual for those in the Entertainment and Sports Arena. More records falling on a daily basis.

Which, by the way, winning by 39 points also gave the Mystics their 11th win of 20 points or more to build on their current WNBA record. There are seven games still left on the schedule.

“When you shoot 39 threes and make 18 of them and you have 30 assists for the game, coach has to be pretty happy,” Mystics head coach Mike Thibault said postgame. “The world looks really good when you’re making shots.”

Even more impressive is that the Mystics accomplished such a feat without one of their star players Kristi Toliver. Entering the contest she had made the second most 3-point baskets on the team and did so at a 36% clip. But had the Mystics had Toliver, Peddy would not have been in the lineup. She recently signed a seven-day player contract with the team to fill Toliver’s roster spot. 

Production was from all corners of the roster to set the 3-point mark. Ariel Atkins and Aerial Powers both had four each from long range as the bench added six.  Emma Meesseman, who came off the bench, led the unit as they combined for 36 points. 

In total, nine of the 11 eligible players on the gameday roster made a 3-pointer, with all 11 scoring a point. The only one who didn’t get one long ball attempt was center LaToya Sanders.

While the team was unaware of the record, they consciously knew that Sanders was the only one who didn’t shoot a 3-point shot.

“We’re going to get [LaToya] to shoot one. I’m going to give it to her real late in the shot clock, watch,” Natasha Cloud said postgame. 

The center has attempted two threes in her entire seven-year career. 

Like all games throughout the season at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Southeast D.C., there was a match lit underneath the Mystics (20-7) in the opening moments of the contest. They jumped out to a 24-4 lead over Indiana and held the Fever without a basket from the floor for the first seven minutes. 

An admirable 13-0 run by the Fever (9-17) momentarily made it a game in the second quarter. However, right after the spark the Fever’s top player Candice Dupree exited the game with a finger injury. She spent the rest of the game courtside sporting a splint. 

Elena Delle Donne contributed to three of the team’s recording-breaking 3-point baskets. She also recorded her 11th game with 20-plus points as she led all scorers with 25. 

In addition to the setting the WNBA’s 3-point record, having nine separate players hit one also set another record. Recording 30 assists put them two shy of another single-game high. 

It all came as the Mystics closed their toughest stretch of 2019: three games in five days. Their next goal? Rest, and they’ve earned it on their six-game winning streak.

“We can’t take our foot off the gas no matter what. Once we clinched a playoff spot, we didn’t come into this game thinking ‘alright let’s relax.’ We came into this game, ‘okay let’s continue to separate ourselves.'” 

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