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John Wall says Russell Westbrook is most like Kobe Bryant in today's game in one way

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John Wall says Russell Westbrook is most like Kobe Bryant in today's game in one way

The most common answers from Wizards players and coaches this week when asked to recall Kobe Bryant's career in light of his double jersey retirement dealt with two things: wonderment over Bryant having two jersey numbers raised to the rafters and admiration of his effort and attitude on the court.

Head coach Scott Brooks played and coached against Bryant. The one game he opposed him on the court was in 1998 when Brooks was on the Cavs and Bryant was a 19-year-old bench player for the Lakers.

"Playing against him, I didn't think he was going to be a very good player," Brooks joked. "You knew he had special talent. He had the physical characteristics and the desire to be great. His competitives is unmatched."

As a coach, Brooks was amazed when trying to develop defensive strategies to stop Bryant. Through experience and studying film, Bryant had seen everything before.


Brooks coached against Bryant when he was No. 24 and by then he was the most astute player in the game.

"To be able to do what he did, for 20 years and it was almost identical from No. 8 to No. 24 is just incredible to me," Brooks said. "Somebody said he could be a Hall of Famer in each one, which is pretty cool."

Indeed, the statistical split between jersey No. 8 and No. 24 is almost dead-on. He played 10 seasons with each number. In No. 8, he won three titles and scored 16,866 points. In No. 24, he won two championships and scored 16,777 points.

Wizards star John Wall has done plenty to separate his No. 2 jersey from others in Wizards/Bullets franchise history as a four-time All-Star with several team records. But he can't imagine being able to recreate what Bryant did in his two uniforms.

"Once in a lifetime," Wall said.


Would Wall be interested in giving it a shot, changing his number to emulate Bryant and go for a double jersey retirement someday?

"That's if I can win two championships. I have to try to win one in this one first, then try the other one," he said.

Wall played against Bryant more times than Brooks and what stands out to him most is how fierce a competitor he was. Bryant was cordial off the court, before and after games. But once the ball tipped, he was ruthless.

"Every time he stepped on the court, he was dominant every day. He didn't care who it was against, whether it was practice or a game, or shootaround or 1-on-1. He just had that killer mindset. I haven't seen anybody with that type of killer instinct," Wall said.

No one compares to Bryant in that category, but there is one guy who stands out as the closest in today's game.

"The person that plays that type of dog I probably would say Russell [Westbrook]. He just goes all out. He doesn't care, it doesn't matter. No friends, no nothing. That's the closest guy I would say to having that Kobe mentality," Wall said.

Wall can be included in that mix of contemporary players who have the old school mindset of their opponents as enemies. But, as he said himself, no one quite compares to Kobe.


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WATCH: Rui Hachimura throws down a vicious dunk and lets the Heat know it

WATCH: Rui Hachimura throws down a vicious dunk and lets the Heat know it

Rui Hachimura is one of the more soft-spoken players on the Wizards, but you wouldn't be able to collect that from his highlight dunk Friday night in Miami. 

Early in the second quarter while the Wizards were riding the momentum from their win over Philadelphia the night before, Hachimura threw down a loud one-handed slam to give them a 12-point lead. 

Then he let out a scream to let the entire arena know what they just witnessed. 

Hachimura has struggled most of the year with finishing through contact inside. Over the last two weeks, he's had the two best games of his career against the Clippers (30 points) and Sixers (27) due in large part to the rookie playing with more physicality offensively. 

The Wizards have to like what they've seen out of Hachimura already this season, and these kinds of incremental growths are all you can really ask for from a first-round pick. 

Hachimura seemed to hit a wall two weeks ago, but he adjusted tried playing with more physicality and it's paying off for him. 


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Jimmy Butler dominates as Wizards' valiant effort in Miami falls short

Jimmy Butler dominates as Wizards' valiant effort in Miami falls short

It would've been easy for the Wizards to rest on the excitement of Thursday night's win over the Sixers and phone it in against the Heat before a Friday night in Miami. 

But they didn't, and while they didn't come up with the win, the Wizards showed resolve and grit against one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. 

Here are the top takeaways from the 112-103 loss. 

Wizards forced to use their depth

Coming into the game the Wizards were already down CJ Miles, Jordan McRae and Thomas Bryant with long-term injuries, but then Ian Mahinmi was scratched so he didn't have to play a back-to-back and Isaiah Thomas was ruled out with the same calf injury that kept him on the sidelines against Philly. 

So Scott Brooks reached deep down his bench and deployed some lineup combinations he's rarely had to go with this year. Moe Wagner and Ish Smith got the start alongside Bradley Beal Isaac Bonga and Rui Hachimura while Davis Bertans, Troy Brown and Chris Chiozza were his top reserves. 

At one point, the Wizards fielding a lineup of Chiozza-Brown-Bertans-Bonga-Schofield. Per Cleaning the Glass, those five players have yet to share the court together this season. 

But the Wizards played well. They weren't flat on the second night of a back-to-back, which many would have expected coming off such a great win at home the night before, and they matched the intensity of a consistently hard-playing Heat team for most of the game. 

That's a sign of good culture, which is something the franchise has prioritized in a rebuilding year. I'd be excited to see how they handle the Clippers at home after getting their doors blown off in LA not too long ago. 

Bertans' trade value keeps growing

Davis Bertans showed out on the big stage against the Sixers Thursday and continued his hot streak from deep in Miami. He finished with 19 points, going 5-13 from three, and it's clear defenses are insanely worried about him coming off screens. 

With an expiring $7 million deal, Bertans is a prime trade target for contenders who need bench scoring and floor spacing. 

Before the year it would have been blasphemous for the Wizards to get a first-round pick for Bertans, but now? I'd be surprised if they don't get at least one for him if they wish to deal him. 

An elite uniform night

It's "City Edition" season in the NBA and the Wizards and Heat brought it Friday night. 

The Wizards went with the "Stars and Stripes" for the second night in a row, while the Heat sported another iteration of their famous "Miami Vice" jerseys. 

I move for both uniform combinations to be made permanent additions for years to come. 

Rui Hachimura vs Herro and Nunn

This game featured three of the best rookies the game has had to offer in Rui Hachimura, Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn. Herro turned in the best game by a healthy margin with 22 points, but Hachimura proved he's at a similar level as those two standouts. 

The ninth overall pick turned in another solid line with 14 points, six rebounds and a loud dunk

Hachimura seemed to hit a wall two weeks ago but is now back to showing key improvements in every game. 

The Wizards have to be thrilled with what they've seen so far out of the rookie and it's exciting to think about his upside on both ends of the floor running alongside Beal and John Wall. 

No answers for Bam Adebayo

Bam Adebayo may be one of the most versatile centers in NBA history. 

He has unreal foot speed and instincts on defense that allows him to guard just about everyone on the floor, and his ball-handling on offense is unprecedented for such a young big man. 

On Friday, the Wizards' shaky paint defense had next to no answers for Adebayo, who ended up with 24 points and 13 rebounds on 10-16 shooting. 

The good news for the Wizards is there aren't many players like Adebayo in the league today, but at some point, they're going to have to figure out how to defend the paint.